Ways You and Your Family Can Help Wildlife
Do not become a food source for wild animals.
Animal populations need to be naturally balanced to their environment. Do not encourage nocturnal wildlife by leaving garbage or pet food outside or leaving shed and garage doors open. Do not encourage wildlife to eat from your hand. One exception to this “do not feed” rule is bird feeders in the winter and early spring when the birds’ natural food sources are scarce.
Do not kidnap baby animals.
Most young animals are not orphaned but are being cared for by nearby parents. If you are not sure an animal should be rescued, call the WRL Wildlife Assistance Hotline at 703-440-0800.
Obey speed limits.
Watch for animals crossing the road and take responsibility for an animal if you hit it with your car. If you see a dead opossum in the spring, check to see if it was a female with babies clinging to her who need to be rescued.
Dispose of your garbage properly and pick up garbage you see outside.
Waste can be hazardous to wildlife. Some of the worst are can-lids, yogurt containers, bottles with sweet, sticky residue inside and plastic six-pack rings.
Use nontoxic alternatives to pesticides, rodenticides and herbicides.
Toxic chemicals can affect the whole food chain—insects, mammals, songbirds, and birds of prey—as well as domestic animals and humans.
Animal-proof your home before critters move in.
Close off openings to attics, seal holes around the basement, screen vents and gutters, and install chimney caps. Keep tree branches pruned away from the side or roof of your house so wildlife will not have a ladder onto your property. Check at least once a year for any area needing repairs in your attic, chimney, exhaust vents, eaves and overhangs that could encourage animals to enter. Repair any weak spots immediately. Check carefully for nests before cutting down trees or cleaning the chimney in the spring and summer. If an animal does enter your house, don’t trap it, especially during baby season. Call the WRL Wildlife Assistance Hotline at 703-440-0800 for advice.
Keep domestic pets inside or on a leash.
It only takes seconds for a cat or dog to injure wildlife. Not only is this very bad for the wildlife, but it may mean your pet will have to be quarantined.
Before mowing in the spring and summer, check grassy mounds or disturbed areas, which are the signs of a rabbit nest.
Be careful not to mow over the nest and keep dogs and cats away from baby rabbits. Mother rabbits only feed their babies at dawn and dusk, so do not assume the babies are orphaned just because they are alone.
Take fishing gear and fish remains with you when you are finished and watch out for birds when casting.