Calgary wildlife woes: common questions about hawks, skunks and ducks answered
With summer fast approaching, Calgarians may notice a lot of wildlife starting to emerge throughout the city.
As everything from ducks and geese to hawks and skunks venture into urban areas, residents are likely to have interactions with the animals.
Jenna McFarland with the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society joined Global Calgary with some answers to commonly asked wildlife questions.
I spotted some geese/goslings or ducks/ducklings crossing the road. How can I help?
It’s not uncommon for Calgarians to spot waterfowl walking along city streets or river pathways in the spring.
“We’re just coming to the end of goose and gosling season,” McFarland explained. “Most of the mother geese have walked their babies to water already so we’re not seeing as much aggressive nesting activity on the waterways.”
McFarland said we’re now moving toward the season where ducklings are more visible.
So what do you do if you see ducks crossing the road?
McFarland said it’s best to leave them alone.
“The mother ducks have a plan for these babies. A lot of the time when we are intervening and trying to herd them we just see that the animals scatter and then we have a bigger problem than we started with.”
“Of course we appreciate that it’s horrifying for people to see babies on the roadway and think that they’re going to get hit – I think we just have to have a little bit of faith in the mom’s ability to do her job,” she said.
There are skunks in my backyard. How do I get rid of them?
McFarland said it’s breeding season and baby skunks are starting to be born.
“This is when people start to realize that they have a mom skunk and a bunch of babies under their deck, under their porch, under their shed – anywhere that’s dark and they’re not disturbed often.”
McFarland’s advice for people who find themselves with skunks in their backyard is to just leave them be.
“We ask that people sort of be as patient as possible.”
“I think part of the conflict that we have with skunks is just that people don’t really understand their behaviour and what they’re doing.”
“We know people have dogs and pets that need to roam around outside – and nobody wants to be sprayed – so it can certainly become a pest-removal issue,” she said. “You can get a pest removal company to come in and relocate those animals.”
There’s a hawk in my neighbourhood swooping at passers-by. What do I do?
McFarland said hawks can get territorial when they have babies that have just hatched.
“That’s the time when her chicks are the most vulnerable,” she explained. “And they’re mostly vulnerable to attacks from other birds.”
Recently, residents living in Victoria Park have had to deal with a territorial hawk swooping at them.
Her advice was to be cautious and wait it out.
“Nobody wants to be swooped at,” McFarland said. “We want people to be aware that this is happening but as the babies get bigger her aggression should go down.”
I found a nest in my yard. What do I do?
Don’t move it – just let it be.
McFarland said nests belonging to birds covered by the Migratory Birds Convention Act (which covers most everything except magpies and crows) cannot be moved or disturbed.
“We just hope that you’ll be a little tolerant of those guys,” she said. “Hang in there.”
I found an injured bird. What do I do?
“At the wildlife hospital we’re there for injured or orphan wildlife, so we will absolutely take those animals if they do come into danger,” McFarland said.
The Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is hosting its first-ever Living with Wildlife town hall on June 8 from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The event is free and will be held at the Alberta Wilderness Association Cottage School on 12 Street N.W.
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