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Tag Archive | "wildlife"

Protecting your landscape from wildlife damage


DIG-Protect-lawn-from-wildlifeby Melinda Myers

 

They’re cute, they’re furry and they love to eat – your landscape that is.  If you are battling with rabbits, deer, groundhogs or other wildlife, don’t give up.  And if you are lucky enough to be wildlife-free at the moment, be vigilant and prepared to prevent damage before these beautiful creatures move into your landscape to dine.

Anyone who has battled wildlife knows the frustration and difficulty involved in controlling them. Your best defense is a fence. A four-foot-high fence anchored tightly to the ground will keep out rabbits. Five-foot high fences around small garden areas will usually keep out deer. They seem to avoid these small confined spaces. The larger the area the more likely deer will enter. Woodchucks are more difficult. They will dig under or climb over the fence. You must place the fence at least 12 inches below the soil surface with 4 to 5 feet above the ground. Make sure gates are also secured from animals.

Some communities allow electric fences that provide a slight shock to help keep deer out of the landscape. Another option is the wireless deer fence. The system uses plastic posts with wire tips charged by AA batteries. The plastic tip is filled with a deer attractant.  When the deer nuzzles the tip it gets a light shock, encouraging it to move on to other feeding grounds.

Scare tactics have been used for many years. Motion sensitive sprinklers, blow up owls, clanging pans and rubber snakes strategically placed around a garden may help scare away unwanted critters. Unfortunately urban animals are used to noise and may not be alarmed. Move and alternate the various scare tactics for more effective control.  The animals won’t be afraid of an owl that hasn’t moved in two weeks.

Homemade and commercial repellents can also be used. Make sure they are safe to use on food crops if treating fruits and vegetables. You’ll have the best results if applied before the animals start feeding. It is easier to prevent damage than break old feeding patterns. Look for natural products like those found in Messina Wildlife’s Animal Stopper line. They are made of herbs and smell good, so they repel animals without repelling you and your guests.

Live trapping can be inhumane and should be a last option. Babies can be separated from their parents, animals can be released in unfamiliar territory, and trapped animals can suffer from heat and a lack of food and water. Plus, once you catch the animal, you need to find a place to release it. The nearby parks, farms and forests already have too many of their own animals and therefore they don’t want yours.

The key to success is variety, persistence, and adaptability. Watch for animal tracks, droppings and other signs that indicate wildlife have moved into your area. Apply repellents and install scare tactics and fencing before the animals begin feeding. Try a combination of tactics, continually monitor for damage and make changes as needed.  And when you feel discouraged, remember that gardeners have been battling animals in the garden long before us.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers’ web site, www.melindamyers.com, features gardening videos, gardening tips, podcasts, and more.    

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DNR advises leaving wildlife in the wild



Baby birds, like these geese, will usually continue to be fed by their parents, even if it appears they’ve been left alone. The DNR advises that if you find baby animals in the wild, it’s best to leave them there.



Baby birds, like these geese, will usually continue to be fed by their parents, even if it appears they’ve been left alone. The DNR advises that if you find baby animals in the wild, it’s best to leave them there.

It happens every spring. Someone finds an “abandoned” fawn and takes it upon themselves to “rescue” it. The Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division staff has a word of advice: Don’t.
“When young fawns are born, they’re not very mobile and don’t appear to have much scent to them so their best defense is to just stay still, on their own, apart from their mother,” explained Brent Rudolph, the deer and elk program leader for the DNR. “Predators can’t track them down by following mom around, so she stays away and the fawns stay alone–that’s their best defense during their first few days of life.”
For the most part, does know exactly where their fawns are. “Sometimes what mom sees as a safe place to stash a fawn is a flower bed at the edge of the house or maybe underneath a deck,” Rudolph said. “So people think ‘That’s a weird place for a fawn—it must be an orphan.’ Generally they’re not orphaned. Through those first few weeks, mom will feed them, clean them, check up on them, and then take off again so she’s not drawing attention to them. So we encourage people to let them be.”
There are times—say, you find a dead doe by the side of the road with a nearby fawn—when fawns have been orphaned. Remember it is illegal to take them into your home. Call a licensed rehabilitator if you feel the need. For a list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators, visit www.michigandnr.com/dlr/.
The same advice applies to other animals as well. Though many young animals are adorable as babies, raccoons, for instance, they grow up to be less adorable as adults.
According to DNR wildlife biologist Erin Victory, wild animals do not make good pets and once habituated to humans, they generally do not do well, when returned to the wild. They also pose the possibility of bringing disease or parasites that could affect you or your pets into your home. Raccoons, for example, are not only potentially rabid, but they can carry canine distemper, not to mention round worms, fleas and mange.
“Please resist the urge to try to help seemingly abandoned fawns or other animal babies this spring,” Victory said. “We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but animals are better off left alone than if they are removed from the wild.”
Tari Howard, a licensed rehabilitator in Benton Harbor, said she always tells people who have picked up young animals to check and make sure mom’s not around, especially in the case of fawns. “People say, ‘Well, I’ve already touched it,’ but that generally doesn’t seem to matter. I think it’s a myth.”
Howard said she gets a fair number of baby rabbits and squirrels that come to her “eyes closed and hairless.” It’s a 50-50 proposition as to whether they live, she said.
As for birds, the advice is the same. Remember when you were a kid and someone told you that if you touched a baby bird, its mother would either abandon it or kill it? “Not true,” said Karen Cleveland, the DNR’s all bird biologist. “If it’s completely defenseless and can’t move on its own, the short version is: Stick it back into the nest, if you can. If it’s got little feathers on it and it looks like a bird rather than a ball of fluff, odds are it already tried to fledge from its nest before it was ready to fly. Generally, mom and dad will continue to feed it.” Young birds that appear grounded may be found a good distance from the nest, Cleveland said, because they walk and search for shelter from predators.
“It’s probably not ready to fly but it thinks it is, and then it ends up on the ground, because its feathers can’t get it airborne,” Cleveland said. “Little birds have been coming out of the nest too early since little birds have been around.”
Cleveland said the DNR regularly fields calls from homeowners who have found ducks—mostly mallards—nesting in their shrubs or garden. “The thing to do is enjoy it. Back off. Leave them alone. Keep the dogs and cats and kids away from it,” she said. “They’ll be a very quiet neighbor and if the nest fails on its own—something that happens regularly—just wish her luck on her next attempt. If a nest is unsuccessful she’ll try to find someplace else to nest. And if she’s successful there, she may come back.”
Cleveland reminded folks that it is illegal to take birds, just as it is mammals, into their homes without permits to do so. “There are licensed rehabilitators who can work with them if necessary,” she said. “But it’s better for the bird to be raised by their parents, to learn all they need to know to live in the wild rather than to be raised by a human.”
For more information about specific species or wildlife viewing opportunities, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife.

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Spring weather has bears and other wildlife on the move


Hungry bears emerging from their winter hibernation are often attracted to bird feeders. To avoid problems with nuisance bears, the Department of Natural Resources advises Michigan residents to take bird feeders down temporarily until natural food sources become available.

Hungry bears emerging from their winter hibernation are often attracted to bird feeders. To avoid problems with nuisance bears, the Department of Natural Resources advises Michigan residents to take bird feeders down temporarily until natural food sources become available.

Although it is still quite cold outside, Michigan’s wildlife knows the spring season is here (based on the increase of daylight hours) and is beginning to wake up from its winter hibernation. Bears are one of the animals starting to emerge from their dens. Food and mating are the two drivers behind the increase of wildlife that Michigan residents may be seeing lately. Since bears typically mate in June or July, food is the primary cause for the increase in bear activity during the spring.

“At this time of year, bears are looking for food,” said DNR bear and furbearer specialist Adam Bump. “They are hungry after spending months in their dens, and while we might not think of bird feeders and trash cans as food sources, a hungry bear certainly may.”

Each spring, as bears leave their winter dens and resume daily activity, wildlife officials begin receiving calls about bear sightings and even the occasional bear damaging bird feeders, trash cans and grills. Birdseed is especially attractive to bears because of its high fat content and easy accessibility. Once bird feeders are discovered, bears will keep coming back until the seed is gone or the feeders have been removed.

“The majority of complaints we receive about nuisance bears in the spring involve a food source. The easiest thing people can do to avoid creating a problem is to temporarily take in their bird feeders and store other attractants, like grills, trash cans and pet food, in a garage or storage shed,” Bump said. “Once the woods green up, bears tend to move on to find more natural sources of food, as long as they haven’t become habituated to the birdseed or garbage cans.”

Bears that are rewarded with food each time they visit a yard can become habituated to these food sources unintentionally provided by people. This can create an unsafe situation for the bear and become a nuisance for landowners if a bear continuously visits their yard during the day and repeatedly destroys private property in search of food.

DNR Wildlife Division staff members are unable to respond directly to each nuisance bear complaint, and instead ask that landowners do their part to help reduce potential food sources in their yards first before calling for further assistance. The trapping of nuisance bears is only authorized by DNR wildlife officials in cases of significant property damage or threats to human safety when other techniques have failed. Anyone who is experiencing problems with nuisance bears and has taken the appropriate action to remove food sources for a period of two to three weeks, but has not seen results, should contact the nearest DNR office and speak with a wildlife biologist or technician for further assistance.

For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/bear.

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Leave wildlife in the wild


From the DNR

 

Unseasonably warm weather may have Michigan’s black bears and recently born cubs out roaming earlier than usual. Great-horned owl chicks are already hatched and will be out of the nest before long. Spring is the season for wildlife to give birth. The Department of Natural Resources reminds Michigan residents to resist the instinct to try to help baby animals that may appear to be abandoned because in nearly every case a parent is nearby and the baby animal is not abandoned.

“The truth is, the animal doesn’t need help. For example, even if a fawn appears to be abandoned, its mother is almost always nearby,” said DNR wildlife ecologist Sherry MacKinnon. “We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but the animals are better off left alone than removed from the wild.”

MacKinnon said it’s not uncommon for does to leave their young unattended for up to eight hours at a time; an anti-predator strategy that minimizes scent left around the newborn animals. “The same holds true for rabbits, ground-dwelling birds and other wildlife,” she said. “Even avian parents will continue to care for hatchlings that have fallen from a nest.”

The DNR advises that:

*Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.

*Some “rescued” animals that do survive become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild. It is illegal to possess a wild deer or any other wild animals in Michigan, and every day a deer spends with humans makes it that much less likely to be able to survive in the wild.

*Eventually, habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behaviors. Habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they mature, and raccoons are well-known for this, too.

“If you come across a deer or other animal that you are certain has been orphaned early in the year—for example, if a doe is dead nearby—please call your local DNR office. They can refer you to a licensed rehabilitator,” said MacKinnon. “Licensed rehabilitators are trained to handle wild animals and know how to release them so that they can survive in the wild.” Michigan licensed rehabilitators are also listed on the DNR website at http://www.michigandnr.com/dlr/.

 

 

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More wildlife photos


Sue Harrison, of Nelson Township, sent us these photos of wildlife that were taken in her yard. “I saw this ‘hummer,’ the butterfly and the praying mantis all in the same day as I was watering my potted flowers,” noted Sue. “I thought they were each beautiful in their own way.”

According to Sue, the praying mantis was stalking a small spider on the handle of her planter and he was successful!

She said the hummingbird and the butterfly were both after the nectar of the Rose-of-Sharon flowers on the bush next to their house.

Great photos! Thanks, Sue!

If you have wildlife photos you’d like to send, email them to news@cedarspringspost.com with a short summary or explanation.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off on More wildlife photos

Leave wildlife in the wild


As spring brings the season for wildlife to give birth, the Department of Natural Resources reminds Michigan residents to resist the instinct to try to help seemingly abandoned fawns or other baby animals.
“The truth is, the animal doesn’t need help. Even if a fawn appears to be abandoned, its mother is almost always nearby,” said DNR wildlife biologist Sherry MacKinnon. “We appreciate the good intentions of those who want to help, but the animals are better off left alone than removed from the wild.”
MacKinnon said it’s not uncommon for does to leave their young unattended for up to eight hours at a time, an anti-predator mechanism that minimizes scent left around the newborn animals. “The same holds true for rabbits, ground-dwelling birds and other wildlife,” she said. “Even avian parents will continue to care for hatchlings that have fallen from a nest.”
The DNR advises that:
* Many baby animals will die if removed from their natural environment, and some have diseases or parasites that can be passed on to humans or pets.
* Some “rescued” animals that do survive become habituated to people and are unable to revert back to life in the wild. It is illegal to possess a wild deer in Michigan, and every day a deer spends with humans makes it that much less likely to be able to survive in the wild.
* Eventually, habituated animals pose additional problems as they mature and develop adult animal behaviors. Habituated deer, especially bucks, can become aggressive as they mature, and raccoons are well-known for this, too.
“If you know of a deer or other animal that has been orphaned, early in the year—for example, if a doe is dead nearby—please call your local DNR office, they can refer you to a licensed rehabilitator,” said MacKinnon. “Licensed rehabilitators are trained to handle wild animals and know how to release them so that they can survive in the wild.”

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