Most people love wild animals, especially when they visit your yard and let you have a flash of the wild from the comfort of your porch.
Unfortunately, a lot of the things that we do can end up hurting animals, even though we have the very best of intentions. Check out these five ways that you are being cruel when you try to be kind.
Feed Them (and Then Stop)
While feeding wild animals might seem like the best thing you can do to keep them happy and healthy, you need to remember that you are taking on a big responsibility. The animals may come to rely on you as a source of food, meaning that if you stop feeding them, they may have nowhere else to turn. This is especially harmful if the increased food supply has led to them having more babies than normal.
Use a Humane Trap (At the Wrong Time of Year)
Humane traps, such as those used in skunk relocation, are certainly a kind way to deal with nuisance animals, but only if you make sure not to use them during breeding seasons. If you time it wrong you could end up trapping a nursing mother. Even if you release her without moving her, the time that she spent in the trap and away from her babies could be a death sentence if they are very young. If you’re going to try skunk relocation, learn how to trap a skunk humanely first.
‘Rescue’ a Baby (When it Was Perfectly Fine)
Baby birds are piteous little creatures, and the sight of one out of its nest tugs at the heartstrings. The problem is, they often don’t need rescuing.
Baby birds leave the nest when they are learning to fly, and their parents continue to feed them while they are on the ground. When you ‘rescue’ the baby, all you are doing is moving it away from where the parents are coming to feed it. If the area is dangerous it is fine to move the bird onto a wall or under a bush, but otherwise, if the bird has feathers leave it alone. Birds that are obviously young can be put back in the nest if you can find it.
Feed Them (The Wrong Food)
Even if you only feed wild animals a small amount very occasionally, you can cause big problems if you feed them the wrong food. For example, bread and milk is definitely not suitable for hedgehogs and can make them quite sick. If you are going to feed wild animals make sure that you are leaving out something that will agree with their digestion.
Own a Cat (and Let it Outside)
Cats are hunters. It isn’t their fault, but it is in their nature. Cats kill countless birds, rodents and other small animals every day and have been implicated in the decline of songbird populations. At the very least, make sure your cat has a bell on its collar to give the animals the chance to get away.
Now that you know the effects of these practices, you can make sure that the effect that you have on your wild visitors is the one that you intended from the start.
Your next step should probably be learning more about skunk relocation or how to keep rabbits out of the garden humanely and safely, now that you know about wild animals. Post written by guest blogger Mike Ishman.