Nuisance Calls

Photo By Sam Hobson

Wildlife is all around us. As human populations increase, we are coming in contact with wildlife more and more. Many animals hope for survival hinges on their ability to adapt and to learn to live with us. Tolerance and understanding can offer the most rewarding learning experiences. Remember, we are all just trying to make a living – animals included.

If you spend many hours turning your yard into a beautiful oasis, do not be surprised if animals find it beautiful and inviting as well. Take it as a compliment!

If you do not want to create a situation, take measures to prevent them from occurring. Do not leave food around. This means keeping pet food indoors and picking up garbage, garden waste and fallen fruit. Fruit on the ground can attract rodents which will then in turn attract foxes and coyotes – which are not opposed to eating fruit themselves.

Cover holes before they become someone’s home. Don’t leave garages and sheds open for long periods – particularly in the spring and fall. Do not leave a lot of cover for them such as lumber, debris or other hiding areas around your yard. Keep trees, shrubs and gardens trimmed up and neat.

For information on various species, read below.

Mammals

Important – Caution should be taken with all rabies vector species. Animals that are exhibiting unusual behaviours such as too tame or friendly, aggressive, dumb – banging into things, wandering around in public or out when they should be sleeping should not be approached. Call the WRSOS Hotline for further information.

Conflicts with Mammals most often arise when mammals are looking for a safe place to raise their young or to hibernate. Prevention is the best option. Repair all holes BEFORE they become someone’s new home. If you are unsure whether there is an animal there already, the ground can be dusted with flour and watched for several days to highlight any tracks entering or exiting the area. The entry can also be filled loosely with debris like straw or crumpled newspaper. If a hole remains blocked for several days then it is likely there is nothing living there. The last thing anyone wants is to have several babies starving to death under the porch. Mammals with young will only stay for several weeks before moving to a new den site. If the area is inhabited already and you cannot wait a few weeks for them to move on their own, the following humane harassment techniques can be used:

Place dog hair in and around the area.
Place a light shining into the den or place a light inside the den and leave on for 48 hours.
Place a radio in the den and leave on for 48 hours. Turn it onto talk radio – John Gormley will be sure to drive them away!
Allow several days for the animal to find a new den and move their young. You can use the flour method to see if they have left and then board up the hole to prevent future problems
Remember, you do not want the animal to be so afraid they won’t return for their young, just annoyed enough that they will move on.

Animal Repellent Recipe

  • 4 cups Castor Oil.
  • 8 cups Murphy’s Oil Soap.
  • 5 cups of the hottest hot sauce you can find.
  • Human urine – as much as you can spare!
  • Mix and spray inside under decks and sheds. Spray to either side of the entry point so they can still leave freely, watch for tracks and board up entry after all signs of habitation are gone.

Skunks

Skunks commonly wander into open garages or sheds. Skunks are very near sighted so, if you move slowly and quietly while making small murmering noises, the skunk will barely notice you. Make a path leading out the door with the smelliest cheese you can find. Flour sprinkled across the floor will show footprints and indicate whether the skunk has left or not. Unless looking for a place to have their young, skunks will seldom stay in one place for more than a day or two. If there is a den with young, the harassment techniques mentioned above can be used to encourage them to move on.

Skunks will often signal their intent to spray by stamping their feet and moving their tail rapidly up and down. Backing away slowly will diffuse the situation. If a dog is being sprayed repeatedly, then it is likely there is a den with young in the area. If a pet has been sprayed directly in the eyes, flush liberally with water. If the irritation persists take the pet to the veterinarian. The following recipe can be used to wash clothes and pets. Keep out of eyes. It may cause some highlighting of pets fur.

Skunk Spray Neutralizer

4 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup of baking soda
1 tsp. of liquid soap
Apply it to the sprayed areas. Wash off with tap water. The solution must be mixed as needed. It can’t be contained in a bottle.

Bats from Roosting

If you have bats roosting in your house in Saskatchewan, it is most likely the Big Brown Bat – which is actually quite small! Big Brown Bats are great insect control and eat about 50% of their body weight per night. This number is substantially higher for reproductive females.

Installing a bat house prior to exclusion can help the bats adjust and become familiar with the new home. Check out our Living with Wild Neighbours page for information on building and installing a bat house.

Bats can enter through very tight holes. To locate an entry point, look for stains on the walls or small piles of rice sized bat droppings around the exterior of the house.

Exclusions should only be done in late summer or fall. Bats have their young from June – August. Wait until the young can fly before using any exclusion techniques. You do not want to have a bunch of babies starving to death between your walls or you will have a bigger problem than just bats.

Bat Entry Points

Image courtesy Bat Conservation International

  • Naphthalene flakes (moth crystals) are legally registered as a bat repellent. If the bats are in a confined space such as between walls or in restricted attic areas, the odour of naphthalene flakes may discourage bat roosts.
  • Aerosol dog and cat repellents may discourage bat use of a particular roosting spot for periods of up to several months.
  • Suspending 2 inch wide by 7-10 inch long strips of aluminum foil or helium filled Mylar balloons at a roost will deter bats.
  • Entry sites can be plugged with silicon caulking, steel wool, or temporarily even with tape.
  • All ultrasonic sound generators thus far tested by reliable bat experts have proven ineffective.
  • There are currently no poisons or chemicals licensed for use against bats.
  • Cover chimneys and vents with 1/2 inch hardware cloth screens. Install draft guards below doors. Seal around screen doors, windows and plumbing.
  • Bats do not chew insulation or make new holes.

If you are able to find an entry point you can try a physical barrier of some type.

  • Attach 1/4″ hardware cloth or screen to the house over the top of the entry points.
  • Extend it about 2 feet below the entry
  • This will allow bats to emerge but, not return

Birds

Bird Attacking Me In My Yard
This is a common scenario in the spring and early summer. Usually these birds have a nest in the area they are protecting. Sometimes they go as far as plucking hairs from whatever they are chasing. This could be either you or your pets. This behaviour will only last a couple of weeks until the young have fledged. Unless you have large birds such as hawks, owls or geese you should have nothing to fear. A hat and sunglasses should be more than enough protection from these little bullies. The most common species to exhibit these behaviours are a variety of Black Birds, Swallows, House Wrens and Grackles. To discourage them from re-nesting in the same area, remove the nest as soon as the young fledge and then place temporary deterrents such as Mylar balloons nearby in the spring. We would not recommend this with Barn Swallows as their populations have been plummeting in recent years and we believe they need all the help they can get – even if it is a bit of an inconvenience.

Birds Eating Pond Fish

Physical barriers can deter most fish-eating birds. For small ponds, complete screening with bird netting may be effective. Properly spaced monofilament lines suspended over a pond may exclude gulls (every 4 feet) and herons (every foot). Perimeter fences provide some protection from wading birds.

Scarecrows which are moved on a regular basis can sometimes work as well. Submerging pipes, empty plant pots and cinderblocks in the pond will provide good cover for the fish to hide in as well.

Keeping roosting birds away

  • Try removing flat surfaces, laying down porcupine wire, stretching a “slinky” toy, or stringing rows of monofilament, one or two inches above each other about two feet apart.
  • A sheet of metal or hardware cloth placed at an angle on ledges may also make roosting more difficult.
  • Pruning may eliminate birds roosting in trees. Removing some cover may be enough to make the roost site less attractive
  • Rubber snakes can be used sometimes to deter birds but, as with other decoys, this only works for a brief period.

Keeping waterfowl away from rivers, ponds, lakes, crops, and yards

  • Scarecrows should be of simple construction and move in the wind. Put one in every five acres and move them every two to five days. Old cars, farm machinery, pinwheels, streamers, fluorescent traffic cones, and aluminum pie plates that move in the wind should scare waterfowl.
  • Flags may be the most effective and least expensive control tool. Make 2ft x 3ft black plastic flags on 4ft posts. Put one flag per acre in fields where waterfowl have been feeding, one per five acres in fields with no damage.
  • Balloons, if properly maintained and frequently moved, can be effective. Fill a two-foot diameter balloon with helium and anchor it with a 50 to 75-pound monofilament line. Make sure it is disposed properly so you are not putting plastic into the environment that can further hurt wildlife.
  • A free-ranging dog, trained to chase birds as soon as they land, will discourage waterfowl.

Wood Peckers Attacking House

It is better to start control efforts as soon as the problem begins since woodpeckers are not easily driven from their established territories. These measures do not necessarily need to be permanent either and breaking the cycle for a while may be all that is needed.

  • The wood may be infested with insects or they are building nest sites, or if springtime, they are establishing territory and the house has a good ring to it.
  • Treat insect infestations immediately.
  • Repair holes and damaged areas quickly.
  • Cover the pecking site to prevent access (e.g. plastic bird netting, aluminum sheeting painted to match the siding), or use materials to dampen the sound produced (e.g. hardware cloth raised on 1” wood spacers). Padding can also be used to muffle the sound of the drumming to discourage the woodpecker.
  • Hang bright strips of cloth, plastic, or foil to flutter in the wind to frighten the birds.
    Check out bird-x.com or www.birdbarrier.com for a variety of bird deterrent products.

Live trapping and relocating should be considered a last resort

Animals that are trapped in the city have often been living in the city for many generations. They have adapted and learned new survival techniques for city life and would have no idea how to survive in the country. The new territory is usually already inhabited and newcomers will be fought and sometimes even killed. If they are a species that hibernates, they will often already have their food stored up and being removed from their area will mean the loss of their winter stores – making survival even more difficult. Relocation can also help transport diseases and illnesses around the province causing them to spread more rapidly.

Safe Capture and Transport

Always make sure that an animal is actually in need before intervening; please refer back to the Wildlife 911 section for more details.

If a rescue is needed remember that safety should be a priority both for you and the animal. NEVER put your personal safety at risk to rescue an animal. Always approach wild animals with caution, no matter how lifeless and lethargic they appear. It is not uncommon for a weak animal to get a quick dose of adrenaline when it is afraid, leading to a sudden struggle.

Some gear that is important for an animal rescue might be:

  • Leather gloves, non-penetrable if possible.
  • A cardboard box with ventilation holes, padded lining like a clean blanket or towel or lots of shredded paper to form a nest. Pet crates are most effective for small mammals (make sure wire front is covered so animals such as squirrels can’t squeeze out). Ice cream pails with ventilated lids can be used for bats or small songbirds.
  • Safety goggles (especially important for handling herons, bitterns, grebes, and loons – they will pierce with their beaks in a lightening quick motion). NEVER put your face near a wild animal!
  • Hot water bottle to provide warmth for small mammals or baby birds.
  • Fishing or butterfly net.
  • A blanket or towel to throw over the animal during capture.

Here are some guidelines for capture and transport:

  • Have a plan ahead of time.
  • Keep people quiet, and pets out of the area.
  • Move slowly, gently, and stay calm, especially if the animal is panicked.
  • Avoid eye contact (lower eyes), which is threatening to the animal.
  • Use heavy gloves, thick clothing, and protective eyewear as needed.
  • Guide and lure the animal if possible, rather than chase the animal. Some animals will die from the stress of a chase.
  • Cover the animal with a towel or blanket, tucking it under them, keeping paws and claws and wings tucked in. Covering their heads can reduce the visual stimuli and stress.
  • Make sure you are not covering the animal’s mouth or nose. Avoid squeezing an animal’s chest because if it cannot move its chest cavity it cannot breath.
  • If the animal is an infant, or if it feels cold to the touch, provide heat, (a hot water bottle or soda bottle of warm water wrapped in a towel).
  • Do not use your air conditioning in the car or extreme heat in the winter.
  • Keep the vehicle very quiet during transport.
  • Keep the animal/box out of direct sunlight during transport as this can cause them to overheat.
  • Do not attempt to feed or water any animal or bird as this may only make matters worse.
  • Take it IMMEDIATELY to a veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator.

Please call the WRSOS Wildlife Hotline if you have any further questions on safe capture and transport of various animals.

RECOGNIZING CRITICAL PATIENTS DURING TRANSPORTATION

An animal that is in critical condition may show the following signs: open-mouthed breathing (continual gasping for air vs. mouth open in defensive response), closed eyes, extreme lethargy, little resistance or response to handling. These animals require the immediate attention of a veterinarian.

ABOUT CAPTURE MYOPATHY

The immediate reaction that animals have to stress is the “fight or flight” syndrome. Capture myopathy, a disease complex associated with capture or handling of any wild animal, occurs when an animal cannot cool itself; the key feature of capture myopathy is hyperthermia (an increase in body temperature). Stress is the body’s reaction to abnormal states (e.g. infection, extreme temperature, injury, fear) that disturb the normal physiological equilibrium. Capturing and restraining an injured or ill animal is extremely stressful, and the rehabilitator’s primary goal is to reduce stress, by minimizing pain and distress, before it reaches this critical level. The only cure is prevention. Once capture myopathy starts, it cannot be stopped and the animal will die.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Saskatchewan is home to 10 species of snakes, 2 turtles, 1 lizard, 2 Salamanders, 3 frog and 3 toad species. With the exception of the Prairie Rattlesnake in the extreme south of the province, none are dangerous.

LEFT: Plains Gartersnakes removed from a home near Regina.

Calls about injured reptiles and amphibians are quite rare. Most often, calls to our hotline regarding reptiles and amphibians come in the fall or winter. People often find them in heated shops, garages and basements. Garter Snakes, salamanders, and amphibians burrow in along the foundation of homes or under heated concrete pads of garages and shops to hibernate. If the temperature is too warm, they will be unable to hibernate and will find themselves in need of food and water when they run out of stored energy. This is when people will often find them in their living spaces. These animals will die if put outside in the winter and must be overwintered before being released the next spring.

Snakes use the same den to hibernate in year after year. Moving a snake from it’s home turf means it will have a difficult time finding a new den come fall, decreasing it’s chance for survival.

LEFT: One of 15 Boreal Chorus Frogs brought in from a BHP mine site to be overwintered.

If you have found a snake or amphibian in the winter, it can be placed in a secure container such as Tupperware or a Rubbermaid tote along with a shallow bowl of water and something to hide under. The water must be dechlorinated for amphibians. This can be done by leaving it in an open container for a day or just using bottled or well water. Poke holes in the top for air. Never place a wild reptile or amphibian into an aquarium that housed a different reptile or amphibian without first sterilizing the aquarium. This can aid in the transference of diseases. Contact the WRSOS hotline for further advice.

Turtles can occasionally be found out of water in the summer as well. These are most often females that are looking for a safe place to lay her eggs. You can help in this situation by leaving them alone or, helping them cross the road so they are not struck and killed. The northern most population of turtles is at Pike Lake Regional Park near Saskatoon.

Pet store varieties such as Red Eared Sliders should never be released into the wild. These turtles are unable to survive the Prairie winters and can introduce devastating diseases and parasites to local, native species.

Top and bottom view of native Western Painted Turtles.

The Ministry of the Environment is currently developing legislation regarding the movement of reptiles and amphibians, by people, around the province. There will be zones set up similar to that in place for deer and elk. This is to prevent the spread of diseases around the province.

Bats

IMPORTANT – Rabies vector species should never be handled without gloves. A bat flying around in the daytime or banging into things, or unable to fly is a sign something could be wrong. Call the WRSOS hotline for advice regarding rabies vector species.

Bats On The Ground

LEFT: Image courtesy of Kayla Hatzel

There are many circumstances that may cause a bat to wind up on the ground:

  • Illness.
  • Injury.
  • Knocked to ground by a predator such as owls, crows, cats, etc.
    Young bat dropped by mother.
  • Fatigue/lack of nourishment/weakness – common in spring and fall or in seasons where there can be large temperature fluctuations and a lack of food and water.

It is important to know that all species of Saskatchewan bats are unable to take flight from the ground and are also unable to jump. They must be able to drop from something such as a wall or tree in order to fly. Bats that are grounded are completely helpless and can be easily contained with a box or pail. Please keep children and pets away from grounded bats. Bats are gentle animals but, may bite when they are sick or frightened.

A grounded bat can be helped using the following technique:

  1. Get a large piece of Tupperware, shoe box, or similar container and a thin piece of cardboard larger than the container’s opening.
  2. WEARING GLOVES, gently place the container over the bat. Take care not to catch it’s wings, they are delicate!
  3. Slide the thin piece of cardboard under the container and bat. Be slow and gentle, give the bat time to climb on top of the cardboard.
  4. Once the bat is inside the container, keep the piece of cardboard on the box and slowly turn it over. If you cannot release it immediately, tape the lid on.
  5. Place the box as high as possible against a shady, textured surface (tree, brick, stucco, cedar etc.).
  6. Slide the cardboard “lid” out.
  7. Give the bat time to cling to the surface then remove the box.

If the bat remains for a long period of time or is too weak to hang on there could be other issues and it should be brought to a licensed rehabilitator. Contain it in a box or Tupperware, provide a face cloth or rag for it to hide in and contact the Wildlife Hotline for further instructions.

There’s A Bat In My House!


LEFT: Image courtesy of Angela Field Tate

First things first – DON”T PANIC! The bat is more afraid of you! It is common for Big Brown Bats to occasionally blunder into our living spaces, offices, and schools. There are many ways they can gain entry into our homes and they often even hibernate in between the walls of our homes.

 

 

Warm Weather Information:
If you have a bat flying around your house there are several things you can do.

  • If the temperature is above 5 – 10 degrees Celcius, you can open a door or window that leads directly outside.
    Turn the lights off and wait quietly for the bat to leave. If everyone is yelling, screaming and swatting at the bat it will be unable to get it’s bearings and leave safely.
  • They will usually not want to move during the daytime. They often cling to the folds of drapes.
  • If you are unable to directly access the outside from the room the bat is in, you can try the following techniques to capture and remove it.

  1. Get a large piece of Tupperware, shoe box, or similar container and a thin piece of cardboard larger than the container’s opening.
  2. WEARING GLOVES, gently place the container over the bat – take care not to catch it’s wings, they are delicate!
  3. Slide the thin piece of cardboard under the container and bat – be slow and gentle, give the bat time to climb on top of the cardboard.
  4. Once the bat is inside the container, keep the piece of cardboard on the box and slowly turn it over. If you cannot release it immediately, tape the lid on.
  5. Place the box as high as possible against a shady, textured surface (tree, brick, stucco, cedar etc.).
  6. Slide the cardboard ”lid” out.
  7. Give the bat time to cling to the surface then remove the box.

If the bat remains for a long period of time or is too weak to hang on there could be other issues and it should be brought to a licensed rehabilitator. Contact the Wildlife Hotline for further instructions.

Winter Instructions:
If it is during winter, a bat would be unable to survive outside. Bats occasionally turn up inside buildings in winter when they wake up from hibernation to drink water. They follow the cavities around the building looking for condensation to drink and occasionally follow pipes or other openings into our living spaces. In these circumstances, a bat can be captured using the above techniques and then instead of releasing them, call the WRSOS hotline. We have several licensed rehabilitators that can hibernate the bats until spring when they can be released.

Adult Mammals


Porcupine injured in dog attack – photo courtesy Lakelyn Wylie

Adult Mammals

Important – Caution should be taken with all rabies vector species. Animals that are exhibiting unusual behaviours such as too tame or friendly, aggressive, dumb – banging into things, wandering around in public or out when they should be sleeping should not be approached. Call the WRSOS Hotline for further information.

Adult mammals can be difficult to work with. Most are terrified of humans and do not do well in captivity or during capture.

Capture Myopathy is a disease that is not well understood and is associated with the stress of capture and handling of wild animals. Capture Myopathy occurs when an animal cannot cool itself; the key feature of capture myopathy is hyperthermia (overheating). When capture myopathy starts, it cannot be stopped and the animal will die. Adult animals and in particular, prey animals such as deer, are affected by this most often.

Shot deer photo courtesy Sandra Durocher

In many cases it is too difficult or dangerous to attempt to catch an adult mammal unless it is so weak from the injury that it can be easily contained. This means the animals chance of survival is greatly impeded already. Smaller or slower mammals can often be guided or coaxed into a carrier or tote.

Adult mammals require special consideration when encountered so, please call the WRSOS hotline for advice before attempting to capture an adult mammal.

Baby Mammals

The first thing to do when you think you have found an orphaned baby mammal is to be patient! Keep an eye on it at a safe and unthreatening distance for a few hours for the mother to return. Many animals will leave their young periodically for their own protection or to feed.

Call the WRSOS hotline if you have found a baby animal that has little to no fur and has been alone for an hour. The baby may need to be placed it inside a shallow box close to where it was found with a warm water bottle in order for it to survive. If the mother returns, she will see her baby and be able to retrieve it. If the mother does not return and the baby is showing signs of hunger or distress, such as making noise constantly, call the WRSOS hotline for further direction.

A baby mammal’s best chance for survival is to be raised by its natural parents, so please make sure you make every effort to reunite parents with their babies before considering removing them from the wild.
Here is some species specific information!

SQUIRRELS

Squirrels are born naked with their ears and eyes are closed. In this state they are totally dependant on their mother and stay with her for about 18 weeks. If a baby squirrel has fallen out of a tree, give the mother a chance to retrieve her baby. If the squirrel is still naked, it may need a heat source such as a warm water bottle until its mother has returned. If you think you have found an orphaned squirrel, watch it for a few hours to see if the mother returns, if she has not the baby squirrel may need care and you should call the WRSOS hotline for further advice.

FOX KITS

Fox kits are often left unsupervised by their mothers for long periods of time. If they are acting like puppies and playing around, they are just fine. If you find some fox kits and are concerned about them, watch them for a couple of days to make sure their mother returns. If they appear to be sickly or weak, and their mother has not been seen in days, then they may need help and you can call the WRSOS hotline. Do not attempt to rescue any type of canine yourself for your own safety.

RACCOONS

Raccoons are a tight family unit. If you have observed a baby raccoon on its own for 3 or more hours, it is possible that it is an orphan. Mother raccoons normally don’t let their babies out of their sight. If you think that you have found an orphaned raccoon call the hotline for further advice.

SKUNKS

Skunk families are another unit that generally stick together. Skunks actually have very poor eyesight so if the mother skunk runs off the babies may lose sight of her and become separated. If you see a baby skunk, or a group of them, on their own there is a chance that they have been orphaned. It is best to monitor the situation for a few hours to see if the mother comes back. If you have found baby skunks on their own, call the hotline to seek advice on what you should do next.

Ducklings and Nests

Mallard sitting on a nest at a Home Depot Garden Centre.

It is very common for Mallard Ducks to nest in Saskatchewan’s urban areas and they are frequently found nesting in people’s back yards. A duck’s nests consist of a shallow depression lined with grass, down and twigs.

 

 

 

Normal nesting behaviour is as follows:

  • The female will lay 1 egg/day for 12 – 15 days.
  • She does not incubate the eggs until all are laid. This ensures that they will all hatch within a few hours of each other.
  • Hatching takes approx. 25 – 30 days after she starts to incubate them.
  • During the laying period the duck will only visit the nest for about one hour each day to lay an egg and work on the nest.
  • After incubation starts she will leave the nest a couple of times a day for about 1 hour each time to feed – usually in the morning and afternoon.
  • She knows where the water is and after the ducklings hatch she will lead the them to water.
  • The journey to water can be dangerous, if possible, keep your distance and walk along quietly to keep people and pets from disturbing the family. If it will be too dangerous, call the WRSOS hotline in advance so we can have a plan in place to help when the time comes.
  • It is normal for one or two eggs to not hatch and they can be disposed of in the garbage – carefully, they may be rotten!

The duck can become accustomed to your movements in the yard and, as long as a person moves quietly and calmly, it is often possible to continue working in the yard while she nests. Monitoring her habits will allow you to predict when it would be best to mow. This offers a great opportunity to watch nature progress. Pets and children should be kept away from the nest. It might be possible to fence off the nest area to keep it safe. If you do not want the nest in your yard, the Ministry of the Environment recommends removing it BEFORE she begins incubating the eggs. It is common for Mallards to nest in the same area year after year if the nest is successful. This can be prevented by putting up deterrents early in the spring to keep her away.

Ducklings

The long walk to water can be a difficult journey for the ducklings. Occasionally the mother can be frightened off but, she will usually return as soon as things quieten down. If you find several ducklings it is possible this has occurred and she will return. Monitor them from a distance.

Ducks cannot count and occasionally lose a couple of slower ducklings in their journey. If you find a single or small number of ducklings, this may have occurred. First quickly check the neighbourhood to see if you can find the rest of the family and possibly reunite the lost ducklings. If no mother and siblings can be found, collect the duckling, put it in a box and contact the WRSOS hotline at 306.242.7177. Do not put the duckling in water. They are not waterproof at this age and rely on the mothers oils to protect them. They get hypothermic and die very quickly from exposure. They should be kept warm and quiet. WRSOS has developed a “Duck Squad” to deal with the high number of duck nest and duckling calls we receive each year. While ducks will not knowingly take fosters, our duck squad has been very successful at introducing ducklings of a similar age into families when the mother is unaware of the introduction

Rabbits and Hares

In Saskatchewan, most “bunnies” are actually Hares. Hares are born fully furred and become mobile shortly after birth.

Normal Behaviour:

    • Spend 3 – 4 weeks moving around to different hiding places.
    • Mothers “don’t keep all their eggs in one basket” and will spread their babies around several nearby areas or yards to ensure a greater chance of survival.
    • Babies are born scentless. The mother stays away so as not to attract predators.
    • The mother is very elusive and will only visit the young to feed them once or twice a day – usually around dawn and dusk.
    • Rescue is not likely needed when babies show no obvious signs of injuries or illness, their eyes are bright and clear, they try to remain hidden.

 

Healthy hares that were returned to the wild.

One defence of rabbits and hares is to remain perfectly still.

Cottontail Rabbits can be found in the southern area of Saskatchewan. Baby rabbits are born blind and hairless and will spend the first two or three weeks in the nest. The nest consists of a shallow depression in the ground lined with grass and fur. Other than returning to feed them around dawn and dusk, the nest is left mostly unattended. If the nest is disturbed but, the babies are uninjured, quickly reform the nest and cover them back up. You can tell if the mother returns by placing two 12 inch long strings in an X formation over the top of the nest. If the strings are displaced in the morning you know the mother has returned and they are okay. If the string has not moved it is likely the mother is not returning and they should be brought to a rehabilitator.

Baby rabbits and hares have special dietary needs and can be very difficult to raise.

Signs of Distress

  • Obvious signs of injury such as broken limbs, bleeding.
  • Picked up/brought home by a pet – cats in particular have dangerous bacteria under their claws and in their mouths.
  • There are dead siblings/parent around.
  • They appear lethargic or unaware of their surroundings.
  • There are maggots or flies around it.

If any of these signs are present the animal should be brought to a vet or rehabilitator. Call the hotline at 306.242.7177.

How Can You Help?

  • Walk before you mow! Babies can often be found hidden in the grass.
    Keep pets inside or leashed during baby season.
  • Teach your children not to pick up baby animals – no matter how cute they are!
  • If you have already removed a baby hare or rabbit from the wild it can be returned if a whole night has not passed.
  • Rub the baby with fresh grass clippings to disguise your scent and put it back where it was found. Monitor it occasionally over the next couple of days to make sure there are no signs of physical distress.

Fawns

Normal Behaviour:

  • Fawns are born without scent. The doe will stay away from her fawn so she does not attract a predator with her scent.
  • A Fawn’s defence strategy is to lie very still for long periods while waiting for the return of their mothers. Their spots offer it great camouflage while hiding in the woods.
  • Does often visit only a few times a day to nurse but, are often watching from a distance.
  • Fawns look healthy with clear eyes.

Healthy fawn photo courtesy Moose Mountain R & R.

Signs of Distress

  • Doe is known to be dead for example: A fawn is found next to a dead doe on the highway.
  • Fawn has obvious signs of injuries – bleeding, broken limbs, flies and maggots.
  • The fawn has been chased or attacked by domestic animals.
  • The fawn has not moved in over 24 hours.
  • The fawn cries for over an hour and no doe responds – make sure you are not standing too close and preventing the doe from returning!

If you see any of these signs, call the WRSOS Hotline 306.242.7177 for advice. Due to Chronic Wasting Disease, fawns are not supposed to be moved out of the zones they are found in. This is to prevent the disease from being transferred around the province.

How Can You Help?

  • Keep pets on a leash during baby season.
  • Unless positive an animal is in distress, always take the time to observe them before removing them from the wild.
  • If a fawn has been removed, a surrogate doe can sometimes be found if an attempt is made within a reasonable amount of time and the fawn has not bonded to people yet. For more information, call the hotline at 306.242.7177.

Birds Unable to Fly

Some reasons a bird may be unable to fly are:

  • Injured or sick
  • Fledgling (see fledgling icon for more information on this)
  • Window strikes
  • Electrocution
  • Hunting “misses”
  • Species of bird – some species are unable to take flight from land

Loon with fishhook embedded in throat.

Signs a bird may be injured or sick:

  • Blood, broken wing/limb, flies and maggots present
  • Shivering, fluffed up
  • Stumbling or unable to stand
  • Gasping or gaped mouth
  • Foreign body embedded or wrapped around bird
  • Injured birds should be caught and brought to a vet or rehabilitator.

Window Strikes
Window strikes are estimated to kill around 25 million birds per year in Canada alone. If a bird hits your window it may just be stunned and simply need time to recuperate.

  • Watch from a distance to see if it recovers or place the stunned bird in a cardboard box where it is protected from predators.
  • If you are uncomfortable picking it up you can simply place a box over top of it and leave it there.
  • Leave the bird in a quiet, stress free area for approximately 2 hours- do not play music for it.
    After 1 – 2 hours has passed, open the box allowing it to fly off – make sure you are outdoors! If it is still unable to fly, the bird has more extensive injuries and should be brought to a vet or rehabilitator.
  • For information on preventing window strikes, please see our living with wild neighbours section.

Electrocutions
Unfortunately, electrocutions are common among large raptors such as owls, hawks, eagles, and falcons. Electrocution does much internal damage to a bird and it can take them many weeks to die. If you see a raptor on the ground in the same location and near a power line several times this could be an indication it has been electrocuted. If you are able to approach the bird and it does not take off contact the WRSOS Hotline for directions and see the Safe Capture and Transport section.

Hunting “Misses”
In Saskatchewan we are lucky to be a major part of the “Duck Factory” of North America. It is estimated that 70% of the ducks born in North America are born right here in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, this also means we are one of the best hunting destinations for many people. “Hunting “misses” are quite common in the fall both during and for approximately 4 to 6 weeks after waterfowl hunting season. These are birds that were shot but, were not initially injured badly enough to be caught. After a period of time they become weaker and often get infections in the wounds. They are often too weak to migrate and can be found:

  • Alone in ponds that are nearly frozen over.
  • Walking instead of flying.
  • In peoples yards.
  • And occasionally falling out of the sky when they become so weak they are unable to go on.

These wounds can be very hard to find even for a trained professional and are often only found after x-rays give an idea of where to look. These birds must have medical attention. Contact WRSOS for further instructions.

Species of Bird

Eared Grebe

There are a number of species of water birds in Saskatchewan that are unable to take flight from land. These birds occasionally mistake roadways or frozen water for open water and land. Once they are on the ground, they are trapped. Some examples of these are Pelicans, Grebes, and Loons. Pelicans are so large they need a fairly big pond to take flight from. Grebes and Loons are classified as diving birds. Diving birds dive for their food. Their legs are placed so far back on their bodies that they are unable to walk on land either. These birds must be helped to water where they will be able to take flight. Caution – diving birds often spear their prey and will go for your eyes. Contact WRSOS and see the Safe Capture and Transport icon.

Birds is Molting
Many species of ducks molt once a year. Molting is when the flight feathers fall out and are replaced by new ones. During this period, females molt slowly and symmetrically so they are still able to fly. Males of some species often gather together and molt quickly which can leave them flightless for several weeks in the summer.