On The Wild Side: Maintain proper boundaries between wild animals and people

Photo above, a fox is fed a hot dog by hand. Inset photos, a groundhog gathers leaves to make a den, and skunk runs through the leaves. Photos by Ann Brokelman.

By ANN BROKELMAN

The other day I almost had a smelly incident.

I was walking and saw hotdogs and dog food behind a couple trees. I wondered what was going on. So, I saw more at another tree and something black. I figured it was a squirrel, so I headed over to the tree. I rounded the corner and went YIKES.

Yes, there was Flower the skunk. He had been brought to the tree by the smell of the food left there. Once he saw me, he took off. This was just off the roadside where the person had left food. It could have ended with the skunk being hit by a car or someone getting sprayed.

The same day I saw a groundhog who was gathering nesting material for his den. Now I have never seen this before so I was watching fascinated by the way he would pick up a pile of leaves and head back into the woods.

This went on for a good 30 minutes while I drank my coffee by my car. Groundhogs are the architects of the underground world. They build tunnels and dens in their burrows. They use their sharp claws to make many burrows with multi chambers for nesting, food, and hibernation and even a bathroom.

Now the only sad part of the wonderful day was I saw him eating a banana in his paws.

I wanted to talk about another incident I saw which involves local foxes which are denning with kits now.

They are amazing hunters and really don’t need our help. We can help them by staying away from the den and watching from a distance. With today’s cameras and lens you can crop close to see them better.

But what shocked me was a woman feeding a fox from her hand. She had a hot dog and was holding it out for the fox. So dangerous for the woman and the fox.

So how can you do your part? Please be a good neighbour and DO contribute to healthy, safe, and appropriate boundaries between people and wildlife.

Here a few suggestions by Coyote Watch Canada:

• Human food is not healthy for wildlife;
• Natural foraging and hunting behaviours are negatively impacted by encouraging fed animals to frequent high human activity areas;
• The reliance on these hotspots causes serious consequences for the wildlife and community by increasing the likelihood of a human/dog-canid (wildlife- skunks) encounter;
• Wildlife is beyond capable and skilled in providing for themselves and their young ones. They do not need a harmful hand-out;
• Countless wildlife is killed annually because they are deemed by others as a ‘danger or nuisance’ – all due to humans feeding them.

For more information, please link to the City of Toronto’s Wildlife in the City page at www.toronto.ca/community-people/animals-pets/wildlife-in-the-city/

Enjoy the spring and all the wonders that come with it.


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5 comments

Well written. Can’t repeat this message often enough. Amazing how many people either don’t know or ignore expert advice.

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