SEAFORTH, NS – It’s not only birds struggling to find food in Nova Scotia, but also wildlife.
Nova Scotia had a record snowfall in February and March making it difficult for wildlife to move and find food in the woods.
“Most predators that we have tend to feed on the surface, on the top of the ground,” says Andrew Hebda, the Curator of Zoology at the Nova Scotia Museum.
“The heavier the snow, the less easy it is to catch them – specifically things like mice, moles, shrews, those types of things,” he says, “They’re under the snow.”
“In 20 years of doing wildlife rehab work, I’ve never seen so much starvation,” says Hope Swinemir, the founder of ‘Hope for Wildlife’.
Animals like a bobcats, foxes and even owls are have difficulty getting access to a food supply. ‘Hope for Wildlife’ has cared for eight bobcats this Winter, all due to starvation.
“Usually they are hanging out on people’s front steps or they’re showing signs of starvation and not being able to move around very well,” says Swinimer.
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Once recovered the bobcats will be let loose in the wild. People should not feed wild animals says Swinimer.
“It encourages these animals to come closer to humans and that’s never a successful thing,” she says. “A lot of people don’t know what feed to put out,” says Swinimer, “If you feed a deer hay or a lot of apples and carrots, it’s really hard on them. It’s not the appropriate food, hay can actually kill a deer.”
This year Hope for Wildlife is seeing animals they have never seen before.
“We’ve got muskrats in for the first time ever,” says Swinimer.
“We’ve had minks throughout, we get a lot of owls. We’re getting the saw-whet owls because they’re so tiny they have such a hard time getting at the mice and rats.”
Hebda says the food crisis could continue to have an impact on animal populations in the months to come.
“Bobcats, or lynxes, or even deer – they’ll be giving birth in the next month, month and a half,” says Hebda.
“So essentially there’s a strain on those animals just prior to giving birth, so that may reflect on the off-spring both how many there are, and in what condition they come out.”