Warm winter weather can wake wildlife

Black bear
A black bear (Ursus americanus) wandering a winter landscape.
Photo by SteveByland / Pond5

Warm winter days can be a pleasant reprieve during the darkest days of the year, but it can also lead to an increase in wildlife activity. With these tips from The Fur-Bearers, you can make sure local wildlife stays safe during mid-season strolls, and get back to their rest as weather returns to colder temperatures:

1 Don’t feed wildlife. Bears, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, and other wild animals learn to associate food with people the same way domestic cats and dogs do. This means that feeding – even indirectly or unintentionally – can encourage animals to stay nearer human places, gather in large volumes, or take additional risks like crossing roads and even approaching people directly. Bird feeders, outdoor pet food, and other attractants should be removed to help prevent negative encounters with people that frequently lead to the deaths of animals.

2 Keep dogs leashed and cats indoors. Off-leash dogs, even when well-trained, may startle or encounter wildlife in their natural habitats. This can lead to negative encounters that are frequently blamed on wild animals.

3 Be mindful of changes to routines. A sudden warm blast may mean more people outdoors, exploring or recreating in natural areas. But that doesn’t mean wildlife who live in natural areas are expecting a sudden increase in non-human animals in their homesteads. Use your voice to let animals know you’re in the area, keep pets leashed, and follow other practical outdoor safety tips like these from BC Adventure Smart.

4 Talk about your sightings! Seeing wildlife is exciting. Being mindful of the language and information we share when posting to social media is also important. Exact locations can lead to issues like photographers swarming a location, gawkers disrupting the habitat, or potentially those who wish to do animals harm finding more details. Get more information on how and when to safely post your photos here.

Do you have tips to share for winter safety around wildlife that you think should be included in this or other articles? Let us know by commenting on our Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube channels, or by emailing us at info@TheFurBearers.com.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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