July 13th
Help Backyard Wildlife Thrive This Summer

As every resident in the Kitchener Waterloo area knows, summer weather can be extremely unpredictable. Not only does this have an impact on our summer plans, but it also impacts the wildlife in our communities looking for food, shelter, and freshwater. As urban animals search for these necessities, they often end up in our backyards, causing damage along the way. Finding ways to coexist with wildlife, while protecting your property from damage and health threats, is a great way to aid local animals through the warmest months of the year. 

There are a variety of ways that Kitchener and Waterloo homeowners and renters can help the wildlife in your community while reducing the risk of injury to the animals or yourselves.

Providing Safe Shelter

The warm summer months that help blossom our gardens and brighten our backyards is an important time for the wildlife. During this time of year, baby wildlife like raccoons, squirrels, skunks, rabbits, and birds are exploring their environment, searching for food, and learning to become independent under the watchful eye of their mother. It is crucial they have a safe and secure den site to come back to after a long day of exploring the neighborhood. Proper, safe den sites allow wildlife to stay safe from predators and the elements and allow for growing young wildlife to stay protected when their mother leaves.

There are a variety of wildlife houses that you can place on your property, and each one is designed to help a specific species of wildlife. A birdhouse is a great way to help a variety of bird species shelter from predators and raise their babies all year long. Although not many people know, squirrel houses are very similar in design to birdhouses and can also be purchased or constructed. Squirrel houses are typically secured to the trunk of a tree, where squirrels can have easy access. 

In the Kitchener Waterloo Region, there are fewer natural caves that bat colonies usually den inside. This means providing local bats with a bat house on your property is a great way to conserve their populations. Bat houses are typically free-standing and should always be placed at the far ends of a property. 

For wildlife that you may find lower to the ground, like rabbits and skunks, providing shaded areas is a great way you can help them thrive this summer. As they look for food and water, shaded areas help wildlife regulate their body temperatures, particularly on those extra hot days. It is important to always remember that these wildlife sanctuary areas should always be at the far end of your property. This will help reduce wildlife conflicts with pets and will keep them further from your home where they may take up permanent residence. 

Caring for Your Yard 

Lawn care is a part of any backyard activity during the summer months, and how you care for your garden and lawn can have a large impact on wildlife. For example, cutting away all long branches, shrubs, and greenery can eliminate all shade sources on a property, which are crucial to wildlife on hot summer days. Using turf on your property will prevent grass from growing and insects from reaching the surface, eliminating food sources for a variety of wildlife like birds and skunks. 

Pollinator lawns are another great way to provide support to local wildlife and insects that keep our communities thriving. Pollinator lawns are comprised of flowers and grass to attract pollinating insects and birds and require less maintenance than traditional grass lawns.

Some pollinator plants include: 

  • Coneflower 
  • Goldenrod 
  • Lavender
  • Sunflower 

Offering Water

On the hottest of summer days, water sources can be few and far between for local animals. The more water you can provide for local wildlife the better. Placing water bowls at different heights is also important. Water bowls on the ground allow for wildlife like skunks, raccoons, and rabbits to drink, while water baths are great for birds and squirrels. Be sure to refresh each water dish on your property throughout the day. This will help prevent wildlife from sharing contaminated water and spreading disease, while also keeping the water fresh and cool. Be sure to use proper protective equipment when cleaning your bird baths and water bowls. The more water sources on your property, the better.

Digging a small pond into your garden can also be a great way to help local insects and wildlife. Frogs, butterflies, and birds alike will all use these ponds as a source of water, food, and a cool place to hide from the sun. Over time, well-kept ponds with a pump installed can help to establish a small ecosystem in your own backyard. 

Proper Trash Removal

Wild animals are often drawn to the trash and recycling bins in our driveways or open garages, which can be dangerous for a variety of reasons. Many of the foods that humans eat are not healthy for wildlife to consume and can lead to illness or injury. Wildlife may also become dependent on these human food sources and lose the ability to forage on their own. 

Trash also carries a lot of sharp or enclosed items that can cut or trap wildlife. Broken glass or open metal cans, and tight packages can quickly injure an animal when they are climbing inside them looking for scraps of food. Purchasing garbage and recycling bins with wildlife-proof lids will prevent their ability to enter and potentially injure themselves. By keeping garbage bins inside the garage with doors closed at all times other than garbage day is another great way to stop them from being attracted to your trash. 

The Importance of Helping Local Wildlife

Every species of local wildlife plays a vital role in making all of our backyards comfortable and beautiful during the summer season. For example, without birds and bats, flying insect populations like mosquitoes would be overwhelming every time you stepped outside of your door. 

It is important to always remember that food, water, and shelter for wildlife should always be kept at the far ends of a property in order to discourage wildlife from taking up permanent residence inside your home. If you happen to find wildlife have built their home inside your property, the professionals at Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control are here to help. Visit www.skedaddlewildlife.com to learn more about our humane practices to wildlife-proof your home, keeping the animals and your family safe.