“We all make choices about where to live and need to take into account the lives of the animals we’ve affected or are going to bother when we redecorate their homes.” ~Marc Bekoff Ph.D. 

Source: Being “Mad About Wildlife” and Redecorating Nature
Marc Bekoff Ph.D. 

Animal Emotions

Coexistence with animals means living peacefully together.

Posted Jun 05, 2012

I’m constantly being asked about how to survive with the animals into whose homes we’ve wantonly trespassed as we incessantly redecorate nature. More and more people say they want to “return to nature” and live among other animals, but many decide that actual co-existence comes at too much of a cost when the animals become “pests.” So, the human intruders (and we are indeed an invasive species) decide how they’re going to share space and far too often the native residents or those who have moved in and lived in a particular area for years on end – the animals themselves – get the short end of the stick, so to speak, as they’re relocated, trapped, poisoned, or shot.
As the very animals who were at first attractive become annoying they’re treated as disposable things rather than as living beings. The Humane Society of the United States along with many other organizations has long been interested in the “problem” of urban and suburban wildlife and a new publication called “Living with Wild Neighbors in Urban and Suburban Communities” is now available. A snippet from their introduction is very informative:
“In recent decades, our cities and suburbs have grown and taken over rural areas. Many wild species take advantage of conditions they find—the conditions we created.
“We unwittingly created ideal habitat in our cities and suburbs for many wild species. If you could ask a Canada goose what the perfect place to live looked like, she would describe a golf course. While we think of white-tailed deer as forest dwellers, they actually prefer edge habitat—places where woods meets open areas, common in modern suburbs and along our highways.
“City dwellers and suburbanites usually have limited experience with wildlife before an issue comes up. They often don’t understand why a problem occurs and rarely have experience with similar conflicts. They look for an easy “silver bullet” solution which almost never exists.
“A common misconception is that getting rid of the animals will get rid of the problem. The reality is that nature abhors a vacuum: Removing animals simply allows the remaining animals to reproduce more successfully and invites more in to fill the empty space. Effective solutions need to address the conditions that attract animals into conflict with us.”
This particular publication deals mainly with human conflicts with Canada geese who sometimes are poisoned or shot because they poop on golf courses, white-tailed deer, beavers, and coyotes, but there’s no dearth of information available for how to coexist humanely and ethically with many other urban dwellers (see also and and and). 
We all make choices about where to live and need to take into account the lives of the animals we’ve affected or are going to bother when we redecorate their homes. Many neighborhoods show concern for their local fauna. A few weeks ago on a bicycle ride up to the small town of Jamestown outside of Boulder, Colorado, I saw a sign about the local foxes asking drivers and cyclists to slow down so that the foxes would be safe. It’s still there and many people have told me about it as well. And the town of Superior, Colorado has formed a partnership with California-based Project Coyote to promote a project for peaceful coexistence of people with coyotes.
I’ve also had a few close encounters of the lion kind, on three occasions finding myself within touching distance of a cougar. I survived these encounters and frankly don’t need to meet another cougar up close and personal.
I’ve also had black bears try to enter my house and keep me confined inside because they liked hanging out on my outdoor porch. One large male bear had the audacity to leave a huge pile of poop near my front door because I’d asked him to leave so I could get to the airport on time. Another large male casually walked on to my porch as I was eating dinner. He was about 6 feet away so I ran into my house and closed the screen door and he walked over and tried to slide it open. I told him that this was my dinner as I slid the glass door closed and he walked off as if nothing had happened. I didn’t think my vegan fare would be of interest. I got a nice picture of him leaving and sauntering slowly to a house down the road where he immediately went to sleep under a hammock.
That’s the way it is where I and many others choose to live, and I welcome my wild neighbors to come back anytime. I love seeing them and knowing they’re around. Nonetheless, I’ve had to change my habits from time to time but that’s because I’ve chosen to live in their living rooms. As I write this essay there’s a beautiful mama bear and her two cubs living around my house. She’s been around for at least 2 years. Just yesterday 2 other adults joined her and now there are 5 gorgeous bears hanging out on their land. All of the people on my road are incredibly excited to have these magnificent bear beings around and we constantly share photos and videos about their meanderings.
Part of rewilding ourselves and our hearts is to embrace the animals with whom we share space and time and appreciate that when we have to change our ways it’s an indication that we know we are indeed sharing space with other beings who care very much about what happens to them, their family, and their friends. If you’re not willing to make these changes and you choose to ignore nature then perhaps it’s best not to live where magnificent animals roam and try to survive. I’ve often asked realtors to be up front with people when showing them homes or lots where wild animals live. 

But, I’m “mad about wildlife”

People often tell me they’re “mad about wildlife” and I’ve come to see that this phrase has a double meaning. When people say they’re mad about wildlife and love wild animals and then harm them, often causing intense suffering and death, I always say I’m glad they’re not mad about me. Our fickleness causes great harm and it’s an arrogant and anthropocentric double-cross to choose to move into areas where wild animals are known to live and then compromise their lives.
I find it challenging to figure out how to coexist with my wild neighbors so we can all live safely and in peace and I know many others do too. We can learn a lot about other animals and ourselves when we appreciate just who our wild neighbors are. Youngsters can learn valuable lessons about other animals and other nature as well. We can all be Companions in Wonder as we share experiences and explore our wonderful planet. Source

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Featured image by Bill Lea

Some common sense advice for coexisting with wildlife.

Here in Wisconsin north woods springtime, like in Vermont, can bring out the wildlife.  The following article has some common sense advise on living around wildlife habitats.

Carol Smith got an unexpected visitor at her home in the Fox Hill Condos off Cottage Club Road in Stowe recently. A black bear prowled around her yard and even climbed up the railing to her porch before sauntering back into the woods. Smith said she had removed her birdfeeder, as advised by state wildlife officials, but it did not prevent the curious bear from snooping around her property.

Source: Brushes with wildlife make people nervous
By Kayla Friedrich | Stowe Reporter

April is one of the best times of year to see and hear wildlife in Vermont, with the waterfowl returning, spring peepers chirping in the ponds at night and animals coming out of hibernation.
Unfortunately, those animals can spur conflicts with humans, as they are frequently out during the day looking for food.
“So we have a coyote problem,” Mary Collins — an Elmore resident — said on Facebook March 13. “Earlier this week, Don was spreading manure and saw a coyote out by our brush pile — far from the house, by the riding ring. This evening, the coyote was standing just beyond the manure pile, just yards from the barn and him. It was not frightened in the least. Does anyone have any ideas about what we should do? I’m concerned.”
The coyote has since left Collins’ property of its own volition, but the incident incited a litany of responses from her friends and neighbors about what she should do. Shoot it? Leave it alone? Does it pose a threat to the animals, and could it be rabid?
A few weeks later, residents of Waterbury posed similar questions about a wandering skunk that was seen on a number of properties during the day.
Wild animals “live around us all the time; we just don’t see them,” said Eric Nuse, a retired game warden in Johnson. “It’s a hard thing, coming off of winter pretty hungry, and because they are hungry, they are often bolder than normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are sick.”
Foxes and skunks are the biggest rabies threats in Lamoille County, and Nuse recommends that people watch wild animals from a distance to determine whether they may be rabid. If they look suspicious, anyone can call the rabies hotline at 800-472-2437 to report the sighting.
The signs of rabies can differ depending on the animal. However, generally an animal with rabies will be unstable on its feet, may have paralysis in some of its limbs or its throat, and nocturnal animals may be more active during the day.
Some daytime activity is normal in nocturnal animals, though, especially when they are feeding their young this time of year.
Unprovoked aggression is usually seen in skunks, foxes, raccoons and dogs that have contracted rabies, while rabid bats usually exhibit unusual friendliness, and may be unable to fly. That can be dangerous for children, who are more apt to touch a wild animal than adults.
If an animal is trapped for suspicion of rabies, the animal has to be killed, because the only way to diagnose rabies is to test the brain tissue in a lab.
“Before picking up the phone to call a trapper, think of ways to cohabitate with wildlife or convince them to move on on their own,” said Brenna Galdenzi, executive director of Protect our Wildlife, a Stowe nonprofit. “There haven’t been many cases of rabies in Lamoille County in the last few years, and there weren’t any reported in 2014 or 2015.”
Over the last five years, Lamoille County has had 14 cases of confirmed rabies, nine of them in 2012. There were no cases reported in either 2014 or 2015, but two cases have been reported in the area so far this year.
A rabid big brown bat was trapped in Stowe just last week, April 14, and a rabid raccoon was picked up in Waterbury back in February. The majority of the rabid animals in Lamoille County have been raccoons and skunks.
“If we get a call that an animal is acting strange,” said Bob Johnson, state public health veterinarian, “the decision is usually made to test the animal if it has been in contact with other animals or humans.”
The Vermont rabies hotline is 1-800-4-RABIES, and information about positive rabies tests can be found at bit.ly/Rabiesdata.
Tips for living with wildlife
Coyotes are one of the most maligned animals in Vermont, according to Galdenzi. There is an open season on coyotes in the state, and it’s not curtailed during breeding season.
Pups are generally born in late April or early May, remain in the den for two months, and follow their parents throughout the fall and winter to learn from them.
Coyotes have adapted to live close to humans, and they sometimes do have conflicts, but people can do things to discourage coyote behavior.
Some people opt for livestock guardian dogs — pastoral dogs bred for the purpose of protecting livestock from predators — or even guard llamas. Llamas are instinctively alert and will walk or run toward an intruder, and chase or kick it. Some llamas may also herd the animals they are guarding into a tight group or lead them away from danger.
Electric fencing can also be a deterrent.
Skunks don’t generally bother livestock, unless they get scared and spray, but there are also ways to curb their behavior.
“Skunks come out in the spring, and they have their babies in April or May,” Galdenzi said. “So, you have to be careful when calling a trapper, because if trapped, the babies will not survive without the mother.”
One way to deal with skunks on your property is to make their den unlivable. If people shine a bright light into the den during the night or play loud music, the skunks will likely move out on their own and find a new place to live.
Galdenzi had a skunk living under her deck, and her husband used those tactics to coax it to leave. After three to four days of lights aimed at the den, and a stereo playing on the deck, it was gone.
“Protect our Wildlife will help people with those types of things,” she said. “A lot of animals are out at dawn or dusk right now — don’t be alarmed; they are foraging for food. People fear what they don’t understand, and a lot of it is embedded in not being knowledgeable.”
Bears and bird feeders
Because animals are foraging for food more right now than any other time of year, Vermont law states that residents must take reasonable measures to protect their property from animals, especially bears, before lethal force can be taken.
Just recently, two bears got into the Dumpsters at Brewster River Pub in Jeffersonville, and strewed garbage everywhere.
“Bears can pose a threat,” Nuse said. “So, people should get food sources under cover, especially bird feeders. If you used to feed the birds, bears have a great memory, and will remember where feeders were in the past. Bears also love chicken food — they are not necessarily after the chickens.”
Bird feeders and Dumpsters are just two of the things that can attract hungry bears. Others are pet food, campsites with food left outside and barbecue grills.
People can protect themselves against bears by keeping chickens and honeybees secured inside electric fencing, storing trash in a secure place, and feeding pets indoors.
“Animals are the least wary of people this time of year, because they are hungry,” Nuse said. “It’s a good time of year to see wildlife; people just need to use common sense.”

Source