Three Easy Ways You Can Help Wildlife This Holiday Season

WildCare's Wildlife Hospital treats nearly 4,000 ill, injured and orphaned wild animal patients from over 200 species every year. In our hospital, we see too many animals injured in avoidable ways, including animals admitted with injuries and issues resulting from the holidays.

Below are three easy ways you can keep the holidays safe for wildlife!

Feeding ducks. WildCare photo by Susan Miller1. Don't Feed Holiday Treats to Wildlife

Although it may be tempting to share your carbohydrate-rich treats with the animals like ducks or other animals that enjoy them so much, you're not helping the animals by feeding them.

Like human children offered candy instead of vegetables, birds that eat bread fill up on calories with no nutritional benefit. This leads to obesity (in birds too!), and poor nutrition that can cause potentially-fatal metabolic health problems.

Deer in the back yard. WildCare photo by Barbara Wong
Deer love corn and other treats, but like ducks, they will fill up on this poor-nutrition food and ignore the nutritious grasses and forbs that make up a healthy deer's diet. Instead of feeding wildlife, WildCare encourages you to enjoy watching animals as they forage for natural and healthful foods!

Inadvertent feeding is also a problem. With so much extra food at the holidays, a lot of edible stuff goes into garbage cans this time of year. Hungry animals are attracted to the bounty, and an overstuffed garbage can is a tempting food source.

Make sure garbage can lids properly close and that they are secured tightly. A bungee cord across the lid can be very effective. Also consider putting your garbage out to the curb in the morning, instead of doing it the night before to further minimize the risk of animals knocking cans over.

2015-12-02-1449098765-4783827-GyurcsikAdrianne_raccoonandgarbage.JPG2. Properly Dispose of Wrapping Paper, Ribbon and Other Indigestible Items

Wrapped presents look pretty, but they can mean trouble for wildlife. WildCare frequently admits patients that have gotten their feet (or other body parts) tangled in ribbon or string. These patients often suffer amputated toes or worse from lack of circulation to the tangled digit. Animals can also eat ribbon and tinsel which leads to dangerous digestive troubles.

Be sure to tightly enclose any non-biodegradable wrapping and ribbons in a sealed bag or container before throwing it into the garbage. If you have a Christmas tree, please make sure all remnants of tinsel or other decorationare removed before placing it at the curb for pick-up.

Many wild animals are curious, and a shiny bit of tinsel or ribbon can be very attractive, especially when it's poking out of a garbage can. Help keep your wild neighbors safe (and your front yard clutter-free!) by properly disposing of holiday detritus.

3. Make Sure Outdoor Decorations are Animal-Friendly

One thing we have learned in WildCare's Wildlife Hospital is that if there's a way to get tangled in something, a wild animal will find it. Anything placed outdoors that is a loop or a ring presents a potential hazard to an animal moving past. Animals will even get tangled in fake Halloween spider webbing!

To keep your yard safe for the wild animals that also call it home, be sure any outdoor decorations are free of loops or dangling bits that may cause entanglement. You should also hang holiday lights tight to buildings, and don't create hard-to-see obstacles by stringing lights or other decorations between bushes or trees.

WildCare is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supported almost entirely by private donations and individual memberships. Visit us online at wildcarebayarea.org.