Unexpected wildlife can be exciting for communities. A fox running through a backyard, a coyote crossing the road, or a raccoon scrambling up a roof is a moment of joy for many. It can also be a moment of concern for some, a moment of fear for others, or even a moment of confusion.
All of these were seen in a single article published online this week by CBC, which documented the range of reactions to the appearance of at least one fox in Ottawa neighbourhoods. The Fur-Bearers have prepared a list of three things communities should know about the appearance of wildlife to help ease tension and make sure compassionate co-existence takes place.
- It’s totally normal. While it may be surprising to see new wildlife in a neighbourhood for residents after a lifetime living there, chances are the animals were there all along, and simply had more opportunities to avoid people. It’s also quite common to see unfamiliar animals if development, road works, or other construction is taking place in nearby areas – including unused agricultural land, or properties left untended for a long period of time. This is quite common during the first bouts of construction during spring and summer.
- Don’t feed the wildlife. You’ve heard it before, and we’re going to keep putting it out there: feeding wildlife creates problems. Even if you think the animals really need it, providing food for animals can change their behaviour so they’ll not avoid dangers like roads or people who choose to harm them, you could be inadvertently feeding other wildlife that your neighbours or community aren’t comfortable having around (from rats to raccoons or coyotes), and sometimes the food offered can be exceptionally unhealthy.
- Love your new neighbours! Enjoy the beauty of wildlife in your community. Give them the space they need while they learn how to navigate through your neighbourhood safely. Take pictures, but don’t interrupt or feed their natural processes. Talk with neighbours about common sense safety, particularly with pets (keep them on leash on walks and supervised in yards).
Wild animals want the same things we do: a safe place to raise their families. It’s up to us to make sure that we can all co-exist.
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