Living in Harmony with Wildlife

Springtime is No Time for Home Improvements

A few weeks ago, my family and I headed out of town for spring break. While we were gone, our landlord informed us that he would be doing some improvements to our home, including painting the outside.

While our house was in desperate needed of a fresh coat of paint, I cautioned him that springtime isn’t the optimal time for home improvements. For one, I knew that there was a mother bird sitting on a nest of eggs right under our eaves. And the side of our house had over-grown bushes that could be housing baby rabbits.

Our landlord assured us that he would take every precaution to not disturb the wildlife around our home. Thankfully, we returned from our trip to find the mother bird was still sitting happily on her nest of eggs. While everything worked out okay in the end, it would have been better had our landlord waited until the fall for any home improvements.

Here are some other tips for living in harmony with our wild animal friends.

Don’t automatically remove the wildlife from your yard. The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network (WCN) stresses that people need to be compassionate and tolerant of our wild neighbors. Experts from the group state that it is perfectly normal to see possums, skunks, and raccoons in our backyards and people shouldn’t automatically want them gone.

The WCN says that people think the solution is to live trap these animals and move them elsewhere, but this is not an answer. They believe that if you move out wild animals from your yard, you are basically putting up a “for rent sign showing that no one is living there and other animals will eventually move in.

The WCN encourages people to be patient. Most wild animals are nomadic and in time they will move on.

Wait until the fall to paint your home. Even though people tend to equate Springtime with cleaning up houses and yards, the WCN urges people to wait until the fall to paint the outside of homes. Mud nests made by swallows get in the way of painting and people think it is okay to move these nests. However, it is illegal to move a swallow nest if it is full of eggs or babies. The WCN states: “If you need to paint the outside of your home, do so in early February before the nests are made, or wait until the end of summer when the nests are empty.”

Don’t drastically trim trees. The WCN takes in many baby birds each year that are orphaned when their nest is cut from a tree. The WCN feels that there is no substitute for being raised by a parent. It is traumatic for animals to be taken away from their families and reared by humans since they can’t be taught by humans the same way they are taught by their parents. If you accidentally knock a nest out of a tree, the Humane Society of the United States suggests that you should retrieve the nest and re-nest them in the same location.

Clean up food.The smell of garbage is a huge attraction to wildlife. To prevent wild animals from being attracted to your yard, keep lids secured or store garbage in the garage, especially overnight. In addition, don’t leave pet food or water bowls outside and be sure to clean below bird feeders, as seed can attract scavengers such as raccoons and skunks. It’s also a good idea to pick up fruit as soon as it has fallen from any fruit trees.

Take care of your lawn and garden with wildlife in mind Always check over your lawn before you mow and search for turtles and rabbit nests. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) advises people to move turtles gently, but rabbit nests should be left alone (and don’t mow near them) so that the mother will return to the nest to feed them. You should also keep your lawn grub-free and you will prevent raccoons, skunks and opossums from tearing up your lawn to feast on them. If you’re trying to keep animals out of your garden, the best way is to erect a chicken wire fence at least 36″ above the ground and 12″ below the ground. You can also place mesh cages over young plants. Motion-activated noisemakers available from garden centers, owl decoys and pinwheels can also be effective deterrents.

Check access points. Check your deck and block or screen off any entry points that allow wildlife access. You should also check your roof eaves, overhangs, vents and even cracks around windows or pipes that lead into the house for bat entryways. They can squeeze through openings 1/2 inch wide. Do not patch holes between May and September or you may trap young bats inside. Additionally, you should verify that your chimney is empty, and then make sure it is capped. Small animals can access buildings through holes as little as one-inch wide, so be sure to seal any holes with heavy-weight material (hardware cloth or heavy-gauge screening) or steel wool. Wire mesh can also be used to plug openings in walls and floors.

Local Resources Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is a nonprofit, volunteer group that rescues and rehabilitates injured wild birds and small mammals in Santa Barbara County. For more information, you can reach them at: 805-681-1080 or visit them on the web at: wildlife

For tips on driving cautiously with wildlife in mind, check out a previous Pet Chat column: driving

As suburban sprawl continues to displace wild animals, encounters with humans are inevitable. Since the drought in Santa Barbara has forced many wild animals to relocate, clashes between humans and animals will most likely increase. However, many of these situations can be avoided with a little effort and planning. The bottom line is that all of us need to do our best to live in harmony with wildlife.


C.A.R.E.4Paws and Old Yeller Ranch Rescue invite you to the 2016 Pups & Purrs FUNdraiser at Fess Parker Winery in Los Olivos, Saturday, May 21, from 4pm to 9pm. We aim to raise FUN and funds to support the work our nonprofits do for animals in our community. You’ll enjoy: food from Full of Life Flatbread, Delicious wine from Fess Parker Winery, Music & dancing with T.Richard Diaz & Friends, Fabulous live and silent auction packages. Our VIP guests also enjoy private wine tasting with Eli Parker and head winemaker Blair Fox in an exclusive outdoor VIP Lounge, a private dining area and reserved Live Auction seating. Space is limited, so reserve your spot ASAP. More details and tickets, visit: CARE4PAWS

ASAP’s annual Basil’s BIG Bash is the place to be on June 4th from 5-9:30 PM at QAD Inc, 100 Innovation Place in Summerland. It is sure to be the best party in town and generates critical funds to save the lives of homeless cats and kittens in Santa Barbara County! Named after our infamous black cat mascot—Basil’s BIG Bash promises to be even more fun and fabulous our third year! One of the most exciting parts of the Bash is the Raffle. Tickets can be purchased online and you do not need to be present to win! So if you are unable to attend to the Bash, you can still have a chance at winning one of our many prizes. For more information on the Bash, please visit: ASAP


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