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July 2, 2008 > Ohlone Humane Society: Change Begins at Home

Ohlone Humane Society: Change Begins at Home

By Angela Hartman, Volunteer Coordinator and Wildlife Care Supervisor Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center - Newark

The beginning of summer brings developing birds and animals; it also brings injured and orphaned wildlife. Many caring Tri-City citizens like you have aided in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of these less fortunate wildlife animals who, because they were found in time, recover in our care at Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. But what about the wildlife that we don't find that are in need of assistance? How are they holding up in these ever-changing times?

Over the past 40 years, Tri-Cities' wildlife has learned to adapt living habits in an ever-growing urban/suburban environment. With loss of habitat comes a loss of wildlife. But even with a loss of habitat our wildlife perseveres and survives in an encroaching human environment. They manage to build nests in our planter boxes, attics, decks, trees and sheds. They help themselves to our fruit trees, vegetable gardens and pet food. And when they are thirsty, they use our swimming pools and garden ponds. Our local wildlife behaves this way because they, just like us all, are trying to survive with what we have.

Wildlife is something that is admired by so many of us. Unfortunately when they end up in our backyards there are times when things may start to become a little too close for comfort. As a result, wildlife can be perceived by some as a nuisance. What many don't realize is that they may contribute to settling the disputed territory while maintaining the privacy of their comfort areas.

When our winged and four legged wildlife friends come into our yards and homes, it means they are looking for the same things we need, the essentials of survival. We all, wildlife included, need food, water and shelter to survive.

Wildlife loves a free and easy meal. Cat or dog food is one of their favorite foods. When left outside, you are attracting wildlife particularly during the nighttime hours. Help our wildlife stick to their own natural diets. Discourage them from getting a free meal. Feed your domestic animals in the house, garage or other area to which they can have access; yet you can close your companion animal's doggy door from those uninvited visitors at night.

Realize also that heat and drought are hazardous to our local wildlife. There are a few simple things that you can do at home to help wildlife in times of need and stress. Set up a birdbath or fountain in your garden and faithfully refill it no less than every three days. A more simple approach is to set up a shallow dish of water under a shady tree. This will help keep them out of swimming pools and garden ponds.

Birds and mammals always prefer a more natural nest setting; however in our urban/suburban setting of today, this means setting up camp in flower boxes, sheds or under garden decks. The best way to discourage unwanted tenants is to set up nesting boxes for your wild neighbors in your yard away from the areas that you do not want them nesting. Simple cedar or pine wood bird houses and mammal nesting boxes are inexpensive and easy to install.

Displaced mammals who have taken up residence in your attic or crawlspace should be handled by a wildlife humane exclusion professional. Never attempt to remove large mammals from your property.

The Bay Area is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife. Many animals live in very close proximity to their human neighbors. This can cause problems that are real, perceived or a combination of both. By simply following some of the humane solutions mentioned, it becomes clear that we can more easily share our community with our winged and four-legged wildlife friends.

The Ohlone Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Newark is admitting more and more birds and mammals to our wildlife hospital each year that are malnourished and dehydrated due to lack of food, water, and shelter. Currently our center has three nurseries full of baby orphaned and injured wildlife ranging from songbirds, water fowl, hawks, owls, opossums, squirrels, and raccoons. Our wildlife center is consistently full of activity, and picks up momentum during the summer and autumn months. We are asking each of our Tri-City residents to help us and our local wildlife by following the simple suggestions mentioned.

For more information on how to live in harmony with local wildlife, nesting boxes or questions about our local wildlife, email us at

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