July 1st
Young Wildlife Growing Up In The Kitchener Waterloo Region

For many Kitchener residents, the first signs of summer mean more visits to local parks and trails, and more time spent in the backyard. As we start spending our days outside in the sun, the young wildlife in our community that were born throughout the spring season are at their most active, enjoying the abundance of food and shelter the summer months provide, and exploring the world around them for the first time. 

Some of the most common young wildlife you may spot curiously exploring this summer are; rabbits, skunks, deer, birds, and raccoons. It is always exciting to spot growing wild animals, however it is not always easy to determine whether they need our help. If you spot young wildlife this summer, this blog will give you the tips on how to determine if they need your help and what you should do when crossing paths with them.

Baby Rabbits

Baby rabbits are some of our favourite and most frequent backyard visitors, and unfortunately their nests are often built in difficult to see places. Mother rabbits like to hide their nests from predators in holes in the ground, covering them with grass and other lawn materials. These nests can appear anywhere in a yard, which is why it is important to take the time and examine your front and backyard for a nest before you fire up the lawn mower. 

If you find a nest during your search, keep your pets indoors and avoid the area until the mother returns to care for them. If you have not seen an adult rabbit in the area, a great way to know if the mother is caring for these babies is to do what is called the “string test”. Place several pieces of light yarn over the nest in a tic-tac-toe pattern and take a photo. If the string pattern has moved the next day, it means their mother has been feeding and caring for them.

Baby Skunks

Although we are accustomed to spotting skunks at night, young skunks love to use the summer daylight to explore the world around them. If a young skunk is alone, their mother is likely close by. Their den sites are often built under structures like decks, sheds and porches, and they will return there to rest and feed.

The best thing you can do for the young skunks is to keep your distance, and keep your pets indoors until the matter is resolved. If the baby skunks are still unattended after a 24 hour period, it’s best to ask a professional for advice before intervening. 

Baby Deer

Spotting a young fawn is much more rare than many of our other local wildlife friends. The deer that live on the outskirts of our communities often make their way into residential areas looking for additional food sources. Tall grass and bushes are a favored location for deer and their fawns to rest, and they can find these areas in backyards and parks across the Kitchener Waterloo region. 

Much like other local young wildlife, lone fawns are often not far from their mothers. A baby fawn may simply be eating, exploring or taking a moment to rest. Keep an eye on the fawn for the next 24 hours, in which time the mother is likely to return to care for them. As you wait it is important to stay away from the fawn and not scare it away. Not only could this create distress for the young deer, this could also cause them to stray even further from their mother. 

Baby Birds

If you don’t see any baby birds this summer, you will almost definitely hear them making their first chirps. Baby birds spend their first few weeks of life growing in their nest while their mother brings them food. With nests high off the ground, the babies are safe from any predators until they can fly and feed on their own. Though it is uncommon, it’s possible for young birds to fall from their nests on rare occasions. 

If you spot a baby bird on the ground this summer, it is best to call a professional at the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society for advice. Since birds can carry diseases and parasites that are transferable to us and our pets, it’s important to take proper steps from an experienced wildlife worker before intervening. It’s also possible that the young bird is a fledgling, meaning it is exploring the area surrounding its nest and learning to fly under the supervision of its parents. Fledglings do not need human assistance as they learn to navigate the world around them.

Baby Raccoons

Baby raccoons, also known as kits, are some of the most adorable local wildlife many of us have the pleasure of seeing during the summer months. Much like baby skunks, baby raccoons are nocturnal creatures that may utilize the daylight of summer to forage food and explore. If you spot a young raccoon alone, its mother is likely closeby.  

Mother raccoons can have up to ten den sites within their one square kilometer territory, and they will move their babies if they feel threatened or are in search of more food or shelter. Since mother raccoons can only carry one baby at a time, this task can sometimes take hours to complete. As you wait for their mother to return, keep your distance from the babies and keep pets and children indoors.

When it comes to helping wildlife, the best thing you can do is keep your distance. Young wildlife are curious and may be found away from their mothers for a variety of reasons, which is why you should always give them space and wait for their mother to retrieve them. If you have followed these steps and still find the young animal alone after 24 hours, or if the animal seems to be in physical distress, the next best step is to call your local wildlife rehabilitation center or the Kitchener Waterloo Humane Society for advice. Only trained professionals will be able to properly care for the baby until they are independent, and can be safely released into their communities. 

This is a guest post from Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control. To learn more about them and their work, please visit their website