Five things to know about helping animals in extreme heat

Whether it’s the dry spells of the western provinces or the sticky humidity of Ontario, Canada sure is heating up now that we’re in the full swing of summer. And just like our pets, wild animals can end up struggling in extreme heat. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help them.

  1. Put out a bird bath. Not only are bird baths lovely ornaments on any type of property, they’re also a great way to help many species of birds stay cool and healthy.
  2. Leave water out for larger animals. Putting a bowl or container of water beneath trees or behind brush can be very helpful – particularly if you’re an area prone to drought or fires. Make sure this bowl gets replaced regularly and keep it as far from your home (and other peoples’ homes) as possible, so as to not attract animals where they may be in positions to be feared or injured.
  3. Plant native species. If you have a green thumb – or even just want to help out your local ecosystem, talk to naturalists or environmental agencies in your region and find out what native plant life is available for you to add to your property. This can have wide ranging effects, from providing a food source to protection for various animals and insects. Many of these native plants may also help provide a shady spot.
  4. Give them shade, and space. Sometimes we all want a siesta – and so do non-human animals. If you have a shady spot in your yard, some wildlife may seek temporary refuge there. Give them space and privacy if they do, and keep pets on leash temporarily until they move on.
  5. Still don’t feed them. Directly or indirectly feeding animals can lead to significant changes in their behaviour – and though you may not have a problem with that, the next encounter the animals have with a human could be disastrous for everyone. Water is a resource that comes and goes, and likely won’t impact behaviour in the same way.

Remember that providing water in this way should only be a temporary measure in extreme circumstances – but it’s something we can all do to help those who sometimes need a helping hand.


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The Fur-Bearers is a national non-profit based in Vancouver. It was formed in 1953 and advocates on behalf of fur-bearing animals in the wild and in confinement, and promotes co-existence with wildlife. More about our history and campaigns can be found at thefurbearers.com.

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