Living with Wildlife

Joel Thomas (Appleton, NY), naturalist. Author of Creature Comforts – Wildlife Stories and Solutions (CreateSpace, 2010).

Joel Thomas loved animals as a child and spent time in the outdoors hunting and fishing. He became a veterinary technician and then a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the Buffalo, New York Humane Society.

He has two missions: (1) Treat injured wildlife and (2) educate the public about urban wildlife so they will not get injured. He wrote his book Creature Comfort” in the belief that it will ease many of the problems experienced by wildlife. The book tells you what’s in your yard and why and how to live in harmony with them by changing your behavior. Animals don’t intend to do harm, they are just living out their programming.

Problem: Squirrels in the bird feeder. He suggests you clip branches away from the feeder so it’s harder for squirrels to approach.

Problem: Raccoon in shed or garden. Some types of barriers are effective, some aren’t. This is explained in the book.

Problem: Lyme disease is carried by deer tics. Know when and where tics breed and check yourself after visiting such places. Also check your pets. Other “zoonatic diseases” (animals to humans) include rabies (hard to get but can be fatal), ringworm and intestinal parasites (especially round worms from puppies).

In North America, pets are usually vaccinated and usually not allowed to run wild. In India, certain cultural barriers that make disease control among animals very difficult.

Do not feel wildlife (except for birds). Most human foods are inappropriate for animals. Food set out to attract deer will also attract raccoons, skunks and starlings. Artificial concentrations of animals can spread both disease and increase predation. Do not feed animals white bread.

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