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Suburban Wildlife Myths

Sharing suburbia with wildlife: Knowing when to assist, intervene or walk away. Sometimes doing less is more.

If you see a raccoon basking in the shade of a tree on a sunny day, it does not mean it is rabid.

If you see an Eastern Cottontail on your lawn, the size of a fluffy tennis ball, munching on a blade of grass, it is most likely fine.

If you see a baby bird with fluff and some feathers, on the ground by the side of your house, it has probably not been abandoned by its parents.

Living where we do, our paths often cross with those of our wild neighbors.

What you should know, is that a raccoon visible during the day, may simply be a mom looking for respite from her babies.  Baby rabbits are on their own within 21-28 days after birth. And, the baby bird is probably a fledgling that tested its wings and landed on the ground below. The fledglings parents are most likely nearby, and if you watch from a distance, you may even witness them bringing the baby bird food.

What should you do in such instances?

Be sure to keep your distance and keep children and pets away. No one should interact with the animal – instead let nature work its magic.

If you have reason to believe the baby animal is in distress, has been cat caught, or is in danger of being trampled on the field at a soccer match, it may be necessary to take action. In such instances, your best approach is to contact a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. The state certified rehabber can walk you through the necessary steps concerning baby animals, or can visit the scene and take appropriate action on the state's behalf.

If you believe any animal presents a danger to the public, it is best to contact your local animal control.

To find a rehabber in your area, visit The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website for a listing of CT state rehabbers.

In addition, there are a few simple steps that you can take to assist these wild neighbors, when the situation presents itself.

If you find a fledgling baby bird on the ground and you have pets and children around, wearing gloves or with dirt washed hands, simply place the baby bird in a hanging planter, filled with soft dirt and grasses and hang it on the nesting tree above danger. Watch from a distance to see whether the parents visit.  Usually, you can hear them twittering back and forth, communicating with their little one. If the parents do not visit within a five hour window, or before dark, contact a wildlife rehabber in your area.

While working in the  garden, if you should come across a bunny nest, simply place the babies back into the nest using dirt washed hands and leave the babies alone. Mama bunnies have a scent and can attract predators, the babies do not have a scent yet, so the Mamma visits periodically, usually between dusk and dawn, to feed her little ones. Make an “X” over the nest with string or thin twigs and revisit the site the following morning. If the “X” has been disturbed, the Mamma bunny has visited.  If the “X” remains exactly as you left it, contact your wildlife rehabilitator, as soon as possible.

Regarding the adult raccoon in the yard during the day, keep an eye on it and watch its behavior. If it begins to act odd for a raccoon, becoming very friendly or overly aggressive (without baby raccoons nearby), definitely contact animal control…and keep EVERYONE away from the animal.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Pam Georgas May 31, 2012 at 05:33 PM
If anyone is interested in learning more about local wildlife, join Trumbull Nature & Arts Center for a fun, casual 2-3 mile Nature & Wildlife Walk this weekend, led by hike co-leader Allison Matula, CT State Wildlife Rehabilitator, and licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. There will also be 2 DEEP Master Wildlife Conservationist on the hike as well! Sunday June 3, 1pm-3pm Old Mine Park/Pequannock Valley Greenway. Meet at Old Mine Park parking lot, off rte 111. Sponsored by Trumbull Nature & Arts Center. Moderate level hike.
Pam Georgas May 31, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Deborah, would you like to join us on the hike this weekend?
Deborah Galle May 31, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I would love to join you, but I have house guests this weekend. If they leave early or wish to join the hike, I will be there. Otherwise, perhaps I can make it the next time.
Joe Pankowski May 31, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Super blog and very helpful. Thanks!
Glenn Wolff, LCSW June 04, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Thank you Deborah for sharing this helpful information.

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