Spring is here! Birds singing, flowers blooming and trees leafing! Have you noticed how early spring is this year, at least a good month, and wasn’t it wonderful!
Alas, the deviate climate that caused our early spring also caused advance family planning in our neighbouring wildlife and the babies all came early too! That wasn’t good, especially when the cold and snow returned.
One day you hear something in the attic or shed, so you scare or trap that animal out, fix it up and get on with the to do list. But no one looked for babies so a few days later you hear them. What to do? Who to call?
You will quickly learn it is hard to find out who to contact. One option is go to the Ontario Wildlife Rescue website (www.ontariowildliferescue.ca) where you can find rehabber locations and by species (everything from reptiles to bats and more).
As an Authorized Wildlife Custodian (wildlife rehabilitator) for about 40 years, spring means orphan baby season. Usually the orphans come in order by species with a few weeks between them being born. Squirrels, bunnies, raccoons and some birds used to start in mid-April. Skunks are usually born starting the beginning of May, then opossums and assorted other mammals, birds, etc. Fawns are the end of May or June.
Not this year! Everything seems to be at least a month in advance and all came at once! By mid-April rehabbers were full! That means there is no one authorized to take those wee orphans, care for them and release them. With COVID last year, and since we are all volunteers, many rehabbers cannot afford to rehab so we are very shorthanded.
The Ministry of Natural Recourses and Forestry (MNRF) gives you 24 hours to find a rehabber, as it is illegal for you to help the animals. There are reasons for this – you probably do not know what diseases they carry, what they eat, or that cow’s milk can kill them, or that if you try to save one raccoon you will have no time off for four months. When you release the animal, it will probably have morphed into a racoon/human that would die as it doesn’t know how to be a raccoon.
MNRF still advises to put them back where you find them, but starving is a very painful death, so we recommend, if you can afford to, have them put down.
First, don’t make any orphans. Check the shed, attic, tree, bushes before doing anything. If there are babies, what you want is Mom to move them herself. Many animals will move out with the babies if the correct stimulus is used and time is given. Most animals like dark, quiet homes, so add a safe utility light, a deep base boom box and original Pine-Sol. Make her uncomfortable enough to move them. Birds and bunnies grow up fast, give them a few weeks and they will be gone or move out.
We would much rather teach you how to move them out than take the orphans.
If you can look past all the time, costs, poop and sacrifices to help our wildlife and would like to be a rehabber get in touch with me at 519-842-9416.