Living with Wildlife: Education is Key!

What to do when this happens?

We recently attended the 2nd Annual “Living with Wildlife” Conference here in Toronto.  Presenters included ecologists, biologists, wildlife control experts, city planners and activists from across Canada, sharing ideas and strategies for living in peace with wildlife in our towns and urban centres.   We learned that as city sprawl eats up more and more natural habitat, people and wildlife conflicts can arise.  While many of us love seeing wildlife wherever they may be, others can get nervous when a bear, coyote or even deer appears in their yard or streets.  Solutions explored at the conference centred around education:  dispelling myths about “ferocious” wildlife and knowing how to interact with them (don’t feed them!), as well as studies of wildlife behaviour and movement patterns so as to better design our cities (as well as garbage bins!)to accomodate our animal neighbours and minimize conflict.  Many cities represented were working with their councils on developing wildlife management plans, to focus on preventing conflict, and have humane and safe policies for dealing with it when it does arise.

Even if you love urban wildlife, conflicts can happen, especially at this time of year, when some animals may be looking for a warm winter den and our roofs, attics and porches can seem especially attractive.  Many people turn to wildlife control experts to remove wildlife from their houses, however, as we learned from Brad Gates, a wildlife removal expert, not all companies are alike.  There is currently no licensing process for wildlife control companies in Toronto, and many are not experienced in humane treatment of animals in removing them from buildings.  If you do have an issue with an unwanted wildlife roommate, do your homework to find a good company.  Here are some guidelines for hiring an ethical and humane wildlife control company.

We also highly recommend the great people at Toronto Wildlife Centre if you find a hurt or sick wild animal, as well as their informative website.  Here at the Nature Centre, we educate students on the value and wonder of urban wildlife, as well as how to be good neighbours, through our “Wild in the City” program for grade 4 and up.  Go out and appreciate some urban wilderness today!

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