Spring is in full swing and animal parents will be especially protective of their territories and offspring. Here are five tips for interacting with Mute Swans and other wildlife this season:
- Give animal parents and families space and keep companion animals away and on leash so that wild animals don’t feel threatened.
- Don’t get too close when photographing. Use zoom functions or longer lenses to take close ups.
- Never share the location of nest or den sites, either in a written description or in a photo that makes the site identifiable. Sharing sites can result in unwanted traffic and attention that stresses the animals. It can bring out people who want to harm the animals. Human trampling of the area around a nest site can also create a sight line or pathway for predators.
- Never feed nesting birds. Food near the nest site can attract animals, such as racoons, who could eat the eggs.
- Don’t feed any wild animals or make food, like leftovers or garbage, accessible. Feeding wildlife can change their behaviour and reduce their natural fear of humans. In Burlington, Ontario last year a family of coyotes was killed by wildlife authorities because they were approaching people, likely after being fed or finding food left out. This year, the arrival of Avian Influenza is further reason not to feed waterbirds. Avian Influenza, or Bird Flu, is a highly contagious virus that is fatal for most birds who catch it. Feeding birds causes them to flock and increases the risk of spreading disease.
It is a privilege and a joy to live among wild animals. Let’s all do our part to respect their wildness.