April 19, 2016 3:21 pm
Updated: April 19, 2016 6:43 pm

Owls to rabbits: what to do when wildlife is born early in Alberta

WATCH ABOVE: The warm weather is impacting animals across southern Alberta, and clinics are dealing with double the animal patient loads. Gary Bobrovitz reports.

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Warm weather across the province is bringing an early baby season to the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC).

Executive director Holly Duvall said babies have been admitted to the organization earlier, with up to one month’s difference from previous years because of the warm weather.

With the expectation of a busier and longer season, they have already reached record highs. One hundred and fifty patients have come in so far this year, an increase from about 84 last year, said Katie Dundon, a wildlife rehabilitation technician.

“The warmer weather will probably send everyone into baby season earlier,” Dundon said.

When it comes to baby hares, instead of bringing them to AIWC, most should be left alone.

“If you see a baby hare leave it alone, it’s most likely not abandoned,” Dundon said. “Its parents only feed it in the first light and the last light, and people mistakenly think they’re abandoned and take them away during the day. It is the worst thing for them—they have a terrible success rate in captivity.”

The mild winter isn’t just bringing babies, but also causing changes to the rehabilitation process.

“I have three muskrats in care that I want to release, but the ponds are drying up and I’m like, ‘where can I put the muskrats if there is no water?’ So water is an issue,” Dundon said.

The dry, warm weather is considered a negative at AIWC, though Dundon is unsure of the exact consequences of the mild winter at this time.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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