Halloween and other holidays for which people decorate the exteriors of their homes, are particularly dangerous times for wildlife. Anything that dangles, loops or flutters is a potential hazard. Candy wrappers and increased human activity at Halloween also put animals at risk.
How can you help keep wildlife safe this Halloween? WildCare wants to share some easy ways you can help make sure this Halloween isn't a scary one for wildlife!
• Don't use fake spiderwebbing (like the stuff that caught this owl) or other decorations made of entangling fibers. Wild animals can easily get trapped and may not be able to break the material to free themselves.
- Avoid decorations with loops or closed circles. A foraging animal can inadvertently put his head through a loop or circle and choke himself.
- Avoid decorations with small, dangling, edible-looking parts.
- Candy, and the plastic it's wrapped in, can also be a hazard for animals. Don't leave candy out where wildlife may find it, and dispose of all candy wrappers properly.
- Carved pumpkins may be attractive to wildlife as food, so properly dispose of them if you don't want post-holiday trick-or-treaters.
- Be alert for nocturnal wildlife while trick-or-treating. Avoid cutting across lawns and through brushy areas to avoid accidental encounters with your wild neighbors.
- Drivers on Halloween night know to be on the alert for children, but we encourage you to also be aware of wildlife that may be scared out of hiding by all the unusual nighttime activity.
- Strings of lights can become snare traps for adult male deer who get them caught in their antlers. Avoid hanging lights or decorations in areas where deer pass.
Halloween decorations aside, WildCare wants to make everyone aware of the dangers to wildlife of all types of string, twine, netting and line.
So many of the injuries to our wild patients are 100% preventable, and these injuries are no exception.
Please follow these tips to help keep wildlife safe from the risk of entanglement:
- Always properly dispose of string-like objects. This means wrapping them tightly into a ball before throwing them away, and making sure they are contained, even within the garbage can.
- WildCare asks you to not use netting or webbing in your garden. Especially filament-like garden netting is nearly invisible to wildlife, and too many animals get tangled while hunting the very species you're trying to keep out of your garden.
- If you must use netting, always zip-tie it away from ground level to prevent entangling snakes, and check the netting every single day for potential entangled victims.
- Avoid or properly dispose of anything with loops or closed circles. A foraging animal can inadvertently put his head through a loop or circle and choke himself.
- Always properly dispose of fishing line and hooks. With WildCare's help, many popular fishing spots in Marin County have special bins in place for line disposal, but any closed trash container will do. Never leave fishing line on the ground where animals can reach it.
- Don't clean your hairbrush and throw long hair outside. Human hair is surprisingly durable and dangerous to wild birds.
WildCare is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supported almost entirely by private donations and individual memberships. Visit us online at wildcarebayarea.org.