10 Ways You and Your Family Can Help Wildlife
- Do not become the food source for wild animals. Do not encourage wildlife to view your home as a food source by leaving garbage or pet food outside or leaving shed or garage doors open. Most importantly, never encourage wildlife to eat from your hand.
- Do not kidnap baby animals. If you see a young animal by itself, it is most likely not orphaned, but rather the mother is nearby looking for food. If you aren't sure if it should be rescued, leave the animal where it is and call the wildlife hotline.
- Obey speed limits! Watch for animals crossing the road and take responsibility for an animal if you hit it with your car. If you see a dead opossum in the spring, check to see if it is a female with babies clinging to her who need to be rescued.
- Dispose of your garbage properly and pick up garbage you see outside. Waste can be hazardous to wildlife. Some of the worst are can lids, yogurt containers, bottles with sweet and sticky remains inside, and plastic six-pack rings.
- Use non-toxic alternatives to pesticides, rodenticides, and herbicides. Toxic chemicals can affect the whole food chain - insects, mammals, songbirds, and birds of prey - as well as domestic animals and humans.
- Place bird feeders a safe distance from windows and neighborhood cats. Disinfect seed feeders at least once a month and hummingbird feeders every few days (especially when it is hot). Dispose of moldy or contaminated seed. Keep the ground under feeders clean of debris and move your feeders a few feet every year.
- Animal-proof your home before animals move in. Close off openings to attics; seal holes around the basement, screen vents, and gutters; and install chimney caps. Keep branches pruned on any tree near the sides or roof of your home. Check at least once a year for any area needing repairs such as your attic, chimney, exhaust vents, eaves, and overhangs which animals could enter. Check for nests before cutting down trees or cleaning your chimney in the spring or summer. If an animal does enter your house, do not trap it, especially during baby season. Call the hotline for advice.
- Keep domestic pets inside or on a leash. It only takes a second for a cat or dog to injure wildlife - not only can pets harm wildlife, but it may mean that your pet will have to be quarantined.
- Before mowing in the spring and summer, check for grassy mounds or disturbed areas which are the signs of a rabbit nest.
- Fish responsibly. Take fishing gear and fish remains with you when you are done fishing, and watch out for birds when casting.
Call the wildlife hotline at (703) 440-0800