The days are getting longer, the sun is out a bit more often... Spring is definitely on its way!
Along with the rest of your spring cleaning chores, don’t forget to keep an eye out for quick and easy things you can do to help your wild neighbours thrive during one of the most active seasons for wildlife.
As you’re grabbing your pruning shears and garden gloves, think about the local wildlife that might be making use of your yard as you gear up for garden maintenance. Are there still some seedheads left on last season’s plants? By avoiding pulling them out until later in the season, you’ll be leaving a few extra snacks for birds as they wait for all the new shoots and blooms. In making plans for this year’s plantings, consider adding a few wildlife-friendly plants that might add extra berries, nectar, shade, or shelter to your yard.
Use extreme caution when clearing garden beds, mowing the lawn, or weed-whacking, particularly at the start of the season. Cottontail rabbits make their tricky-to-detect nests in shallow depressions in the ground, so keeping a close eye out will help make sure these fragile babies don’t come to any harm.
Use similar caution when clearing vents and chimneys, or trimming trees – check carefully first for signs of nesting material to avoid placing baby birds in jeopardy. As you’re clearing vents and chimneys, make sure caps and covers are in place to prevent wildlife from moving in as baby season progresses.
Finally, if you do choose to hang bird feeders, make sure that these feeders have been given a good cleaning with hot soapy water, followed by bleach, and allowed to dry completely before restocking with seed. Make sure to clear the ground underneath the feeder as well, as rotting seed can attract other animals and promote fungus growth.
Just like when you mow the lawn or clean the chimney, take extra caution when clearing out basements, attics, sheds and garages. Be on the lookout for signs of wildlife – chew marks, holes or other access points, and nesting material are all good indications that you may have an uninvited houseguest. Make a thorough inspection for babies before starting any eviction strategy or repair work and use humane solutions to unexpected wild tenants.
As you’re sorting through and clearing out some of your spaces in preparation for a fresh spring start, consider donating unused items to your local wildlife rehabilitation centre. These facilities often need a wide variety of items to care for the many sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals that come through their doors – typical wildlife centre needs include:
- Heating pads
- Hot water bottles
- Cleaning supplies (soap, bleach)
- Hand/immersion blenders
- Chopping knives
- Bungee cords
- Extension cords
- Wet or dry erase markers
BC SPCA's Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC) has a list of most-needed items, as well as a printable PDF of desired household and other products to help get them ready for the spring season. Please consider making a donation, or contact your local wildlife centre to find out about their specific needs.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.