Editor’s note: Shela has several changes in her life making it difficult to continue the column.
First, an apology to readers for the oxymoron-ish statement in last month’s column: “If you don’t have access to a computer, email me ...” So, let’s try that again.
If you need any of the disaster preparedness lists about which I wrote, call me at 951-659-4772. While the timing of the subject matter wasn’t very helpful after the fact of the fire, I hope the information is useful as you prepare for the future.
Speaking of the fire, we might see more wildlife coming into our area in its aftermath. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife and others knowledgeable of animal behavior warn that we should not feed wild animals as they try to establish their new territories.
University of California, Davis, Wildlife Health Center Co-director William Boyce says the best thing for all the animals in burned areas is to leave them alone: “There still are areas that provide food, water and cover, and the wild animals can and will find them.”
What about feeding wild animals? Where do we draw the line? Is it OK to feed birds, squirrels and raccoons but not coyotes?
DFW says feeding birds isn’t really in their best interest. They get a better diet if they forage for food varieties found in their natural environment. Having said that, DFW also offers suggestions for making it a safer experience for the birds since we get so many positive benefits from watching those who visit our feeders. It’s important to carefully consider the location of feeders so the birds don’t slam into windows or provide game for neighborhood cats.
Many mountain residents have learned the hard way about feeding raccoons. They can be demanding in their expectations once you’ve started giving them food and downright destructive to property if their meal isn’t provided when they want it.
I’m leading up to something that has a much greater impact on the safety of our own pets, our small children and other wildlife. A friend told me about a neighbor who feeds coyotes.
The consequences of this irresponsible, illegal behavior has changed the nature of the entire neighborhood. A litter of coyote pups was born on the property.
They have become quite bold, digging into fenced yards and threatening dogs and cats living there. They hang around close to homes during the day. People are afraid to walk their dogs, let alone leave them out in their own yards.
Folk I know who provide salt licks for the deer seem to be aware of the need to locate them well away from traffic danger.
California Code Title 14, Section 251.1 prohibits any act that “disrupts the normal behavior” of animals, including intentionally or unintentionally leaving out food for wildlife such as raccoons, coyotes and deer. This is for their protection as well as ours.
An extensive list of reasons why we should not feed wildlife is available at nativehabitats.org. They say these are absolutely essential to their health and well-being.
So, speaking for the wild animals, let them be wild.