Wildlife Concerns

Learn more about common concerns faced by local wildlife, and the changes you can make.

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Free Roaming Cats

 

It has been well documented that outdoor cats have negative effects on songbird and small mammal populations. Keeping cats indoors is safer for both the cat and for wildlife. 

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The indoor cats of the CWRC

What will your cat miss by staying indoors?

  • Being hit by a car

  • being stolen

  • Getting lost

  • Fights with other cats, dogs, skunks, or raccoons,

  • Fleas, worms, ticks

  • Exposure to disease from other cats

  • Possible neighbour complaints

  • Getting collar caught on something

  • Cruel people mistreating and abusing them

  • Rain, wind, cold temperatures and frostbite

  • Animal traps

  • Accidental or malicious poisoning

  • Fear and loneliness

What effects do free roaming cats have on wildlife?

It is estimated that domestic cats injure and kill billions of birds and small mammals annually in North America. At the CWRC we see these animals regularly, often suffering from painful injuries where the most humane option is euthanasia.

 

 These animals are often a food source for larger animals such as owls, hawks, falcons, and foxes. Cats are generally well fed and their catches go to waste, creating unnecessary competition for resources among native wildlife.

 
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Lead Poisoning

Lead is a heavy metal that is toxic to both wildlife and humans. Though efforts have been made to remove lead from the environment by eliminating its use in everyday items such as gas, paint, pipes, window blinds and waterfowl shot, it is still commonly found in tackle and ammunition used for hunting and pest control.

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Upon impact, lead bullets will fragment into hundreds of tiny pieces, many of which are too small to be seen with the naked eye. These fragments can scatter and penetrate muscles up to 45 cm away from the initial wound channel. Fragments left behind in a carcass or a gut pile are often ingested by eagles and other scavengers as they eat the carrion. The lead is then ground down in the bird's gizzard and absorbed into the blood stream, where it travels to the brain causing seizures, starvation, and ultimately death due to lead poisoning.

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Lead fragments from hunting can also effect humans who eat game. Lead fragmentsare especially harmful to children and pregnant women. In humans, lead poisoning affects the nervous system and can cause aggression, learning disabilities, lowered IQ, high blood pressure, reproductive and sexual dysfunction, and anemia.

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Lead can also still be found in tackle, sinkers, jigs, and lures commonly used by anglers. Birds can ingest this lead if they mistake tackle for prey, eat fish containing tackle from a broken line, or pick it up while foraging on waterway bottoms for grit to aid digestion. Once the lead has been eaten it is typically fatal. 

How can you help?

Hunters and anglers are part of the solution! 

Due to the health risks to wildlife and humans posed by lead contamination, the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters passed a motion to take a leadership role in convincing hunters to voluntarily switch to non-lead ammunition in September 2012.

Non-lead fishing tackle made from metals such as steel, tin, bismuth, and tungsten offer safe alternatives to lead and keep our wildlife safe for us and future generations.

By switching from lead to non-lead (copper) based ammunition, hunters can help to remove a significant source of toxicity from the environment. Non-lead bullets expand on impact and stay in one piece, offering a more humane kill and leaving a cleaner wound which will require no further cleaning once the bullet is removed. Non-lead ammunition, such as solid copper bullets, also have superior muzzle energy and weight retention, accuracy, penetration, and knock-down power.

 

What's good for the hunter is also good for the environment, click here to download our brochure on Non-Lead Hunting and Angling.

For more information on non-lead hunting, click on the links below:

Hunting With Non-Lead

Copper Bullets Gain Support

Bullet Fragments in Deer Remains: Implications for Lead Exposure in Avian Scavengers

X-Rays of Lead in Meat

Feather Lead Concentrations

The Non-Lead Hunter

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Window Strikes

 

Did you know that window strikes kill 16 to 42 million birds each year in Canada? 

When a bird sees glass it does not recognize it as a structure or a barrier, it only registers the reflection. When a window is reflecting trees, sky, and other natural elements the bird will see the reflection as part of the environment and, thinking it can simply fly through, will collide with the glass.  Window strikes can kill the bird on impact, or leave the animal stunned and vulnerable to predators.

The good news is that you can help!

The simplest change you can make to help prevent window strikes in your home is to break up the reflection. By doing so you will make the glass more visible to the bird, and let it know that there is an obstacle in its flight path. Vertical strips of tape, window film, paint and decals placed on your windows and window-railings will help to greatly reduce window strikes, so long as they follow a few rules:​

  • The pattern must be applied across the entire glass surface

  • There are no gaps in the pattern greater than 5 cm

  • The pattern must be applied to the outside of the glass surface 

  • The color of the pattern is easily seen against the reflection

For more information on window strikes and how to prevent them, click here.

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Bird Feeder Care

 

Did you know that improper care or neglect of a feeder can create serious issues for birds and other wildlife? Here are some tips for keeping your feeder fresh, and your birds healthy!

Feeder Selection and Placement

When selecting a feeder it is important to pick one which has been designed for both easy maintenance, and to keep the feed from getting wet. A feeder with good coverage and proper drainage will help to keep your feed dry and discourage the development of dangerous moulds and bacteria.  Look for feeders which also have large bases as they will help to catch fallen feed, which can attract unwanted pests, and they will keep the birds from becoming overcrowded.

Bird feeders should be placed either less than one metre or more than ten meters away from building, this placement generally helps to reduce the chance of window strikes. To help avoid cat grabs, the feeder should be positioned so that the birds have an unobstructed view and an accessible escape route.

Feed

Not all feed is created equal. Purchase high quality seed, and avoid brands containing fillers such as: oats, corn, wheat, milo, red millet, ax and rice. These fillers are low in nutrients, generally not eaten by birds, easily absorb moisture and spoil, and can attract unwanted pests.

 

Always check labels to ensure that there is absolutely no salt or sugar added, and never use spoiled or mouldy feed. Limit your use of suet, peanut butter, and other fats to the cooler months. Fats will quickly turn rancid in warm weather and can be fatal to birds.Salt, sugar, and mould can be fatal to birds.

 

Maintenance

In the maritime provinces it is recommended that bird feeders be brought down once temperatures rise above freezing, and kept down until the temperature returns to below zero. Bird feeders should be cleaned and disinfected monthly while in use over the winter months, and twice per week if in use over the warmer months.

 

To clean your feeder first empty it and wash with hot soapy water and a stiff brush. Take care to remove any debris and bird feces, and make sure to discard any damp seed. After washing, disinfect your feeder by immersing it in a solution of one part liquid chlorine bleach to nine parts warm water for two to three minutes, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry completely. 

If you are experiencing a heat wave extra attention should be paid to your feeder, the trichomonasis parasite can develop quickly in neglected feeders. The Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative advises that feeders be removed in warm weather to eliminate the risk of spreading the fatal parasite.

Bacteria and mould can develop quickly in sugary foods, hummingbird feeders should be cleaned every time they are refilled, 2-3 times per week. When cleaning the feeder, make sure to disassemble and thoroughly clean each component. Any dyes or colourants must be avoided. If you see any sign of bacterial or mould growth in your hummingbird feeder discard the solution immediately and thoroughly clean and disinfect the feeder before refilling.

If you would like to learn more about proper bird feeder care, click here to download the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative's feeder strategy.