Wildlife Habitat FAQ


Q: What should I do if I see a baby bird or other animal without its mother?
A: You should leave infant wildlife alone, since they are seldom truly orphaned. Do not move them to another area as their parents will not be able to find them. Leave baby mammals alone where they were found for at least an hour — and as long as possible — to see if the mother will return for them. You should not remain at the site yourself, because the mother will not return as long as you are there. Resist the temptation to feed and handle the young wildlife.

Q: What should I do if I see an injured or distressed animal?
A: You should call a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately to ask whether they are able to accept the animal.

Q: Is it okay to trap and relocate a wild animal?
A: You should never relocate wildlife. Doing so is illegal, inhumane and very stressful for the relocated animal as well as other wildlife in their established territories. Relocating animals can also contribute to the spread of disease. Only authorized organizations, such as wildlife rehabilitators, should relocate wildlife.

Q: What can I do to create a wildlife sanctuary in my own backyard?
A: There are four basic elements needed to create a backyard habitat for wildlife — food, water, cover and places to raise young. Because animals have learned over time how to utilize native plants for feeding, nesting and cover purposes, it is important to maintain native plant species in your yard to protect and provide wildlife habitat. Here are some small steps you can take to enhance your own backyard as a wildlife sanctuary:

  • FOOD: It is important to have a variety of both summer and fall fruit bearing shrubs and trees to create an all seasons menu which includes nectar, pollen, berries, nuts and other seeds. The ultimate goal of the backyard habitat is to supply as much food from vegetation as possible to meet the year-round needs of many species. However, in the cold of winter, a bird feeder or two is always welcome.
  • WATER: All species of wildlife need water for both drinking and bathing. Make water available by adding a birdbath to your yard or, for even better results, build a water garden. Water gardens attract birds, insects and frogs, to name a few. A slow, constant flow keeps water fresh, free of mosquitoes and free of ice in the winter.
  • COVER & PLACES TO RAISE YOUNG: If at all possible, leave an area or two in your yard “wild.” Densely branched shrubs, hollow logs, rock piles, brush piles and stone walls all provide protective cover for wildlife. All creatures appreciate the safety of a natural setting in which to hide and raise their young. Adding birdhouses and nesting shelves attached to posts or trees can enhance the existing housing available to birds.

For more information about making your yard wildlife-friendly, visit the National Wildlife Federation’s web site at www.nwf.org or contact your town’s Conservation Commission office.

Q: What can I do to make my yard a safer place for wildlife?
A: There are several things you can do to ensure the safety of wildlife in your yard:

  • Don’t allow your pets to be outdoors without supervision. Cats should be kept inside at least in the months of May, June and July when the majority of young wildlife is most vulnerable.
  • Before mowing your lawn or rototilling your garden, walk through the area first to be sure no rabbits or ground-nesting birds are in harm’s way.
  • Check trees before cutting them down to make sure there are no nests or wildlife living in cavities. If dead trees pose no hazards, leave them to provide natural homes for wildlife.
  • Before burning brush piles, make sure no wildlife has taken refuge in them.
  • Teach your children to respect all wildlife and their habitats. Children should learn that wild animals are not playthings or pets and to leave them — and their homes — alone.
  • Eliminate the use of chemicals in your yard and use natural fertilizers and other organic gardening methods and products.