Co-Existing with Urban Wildlife
The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals (The Fur-Bearers) works to end the commercial fur trade and promotes co-existence with urban wildlife.
At this time of year, Adrian Nelson, Director of Communications/Wildlife Conflict Manager for The Fur Bearers hears more about people with urban wildlife conflicts.
People living in Montreal and Calgary can encounter coyotes in their yard. Here on the west coast, homeowners can discover bears or coyotes or raccoons. All areas can encounter small rodents such as rats and mice.
Greater Vancouver, Adrian said, has a healthy population of about 3,000 coyotes. I know at least one lives at VanDusen Garden and the staff are good about putting up a sign that a coyote has been recently spotted.
The stories Adrian dislikes hearing are when people have unwittingly attracted urban wildlife then over reacted and had it killed. There are basic things people can do to avoid this.
It’s important, Adrian suggested, to address the underlying issue as to why the wildlife is on your property to begin with. Until this is addressed, homeowners can move out one animal only to have another one show up.
Here are some basic things a homeowner can do to try to avoid attracting urban wildlife:
- Birds don’t need to be fed in summer. Bird feeders can become overfilled and spill bird feed onto the ground where mice, rats and other rodents can find it and their presence attracts coyotes and bobcats
- Fruit trees can drop fruit that has ripened. People with fruit trees who don’t pick up fallen fruit can attract bears, coyotes, and cougars.
- Coyotes have been known to climb crab apple trees to get the apples. A good fence can help to keep the coyotes away from the trees.
- Raccoons are territorial and can attack small pets. It’s important to keep pets safe and under control. Use a catio for your cat to be outside. Cats on the loose can catch birds and wildlife, and they can also be hunted by predators even while the cat is hunting.
- BBQs smell good to animals too. Especially in the Spring when bears are just out of hibernation they are seeking food, and grilled meats or veggies smell good. So clean the BBQ after using it and store it away in an enclosed shed or garage.
- Feed a pet outside only if it finishes the food. Outdoor pet feeding of dogs or cats is OK only if the animal finishes all the food in the dish or you take the dish back inside. Food left out can attract a raccoon, and lead to a fight between the raccoon and a cat.
- Human food left outside appeals to wildlife. Most animals keep their distance from humans but once the people go inside food left out from a meal or even from kids throwing it around can attract wildlife.
- Bears like diapers! Garbage being put out the night before or kept outside and not sealed in an animal proof container attracts animals.
Wildlife is in urban environments. While homeowners might get annoyed by wildlife on their property, it’s important to remember that coexistence with them is possible. Adrian commented that a study of coyotes in urban and rural environments found little difference in their diets – domestic animals made up less than 2% of their diet.
Finally, don’t fear wildlife. They can be seen across Canada. Appreciate them but don’t attract them.