Warming temperatures and wildlife

NOW: Warming temperatures and wildlife

As temperatures warm and you spend more time outdoors, it makes sense that you'll likely encounter more animals as they become more active too.

It's been a mild month so far. Jessica Merkling, the North Region Urban Biologist for DNR, says temperature doesn't necessarily impact animals.

"For most wildlife, the warm weather doesn't change much because they kind of do their own thing, whether it's a cold or warm beginning of March," she says. "Specifically, for mammals, maybe you'll see them coming out earlier, a little more engagement with bats a little bit earlier."

As those animals with fur come out of the long winter months, they may be a bit hungry. This hunger can be bad for critters who live close to your home.

"If you're having a conflict, no feeding of any kind," Merkling recommends. "Be mindful of things like your garbage cans, your grease traps as we start grilling more, covering up things like compost piles, picking up fallen fruits and vegetables."

To keep outdoor animals in the outdoors, she also recommended to check walls and doors for small holes, and to double check that doors and windows are hanging correctly on your house's exterior.

Critters aren't the only problems. Canada geese can sometimes pick a less than ideal location for their nest, like industrial sites, schools, or assisted living facilities, where it's difficult to move around the nests. It might seem early in the season, but geese have likely already scouted their nest location for the year.

"If they're in a problem area, as long as there are no birds or eggs in the nest, you can remove that nest at any time without a permit. After eggs are laid you actually do need to get a federal permit," Merkling instructed.

If you need more information about the permit for removing nests, you can visit this website.

Even with animals that might look cute and cuddly, it's important to remember to enjoy wildlife from a distance.

"I highly encourage people to let them be, if they're not actually causing a real problem," Merkling said. "Most of the time, wildlife doesn't really need our help. Nature's figured out how to do it without us for a really long time. Most of our species are very well adapted for Indiana conditions."

The one time it may be okay to handle wildlife or get involved is if there are any obvious signs of injury. DNR has plenty of resources for injured animals, including where they can be taken for rehabilitation.

Even the young animals who appear to be abandoned are likely doing okay too, so you can leave them be.

"If a bird is found on the ground, you can definitely put it back in the nest and walk away," suggests Merkling. "If it's got feathers and is hopping around, it's probably supposed to be there, so just give it some space and watch it from a distance."

If you still have a problem animal after following these steps and need help creating a safe solution for the animal, you can contact Merkling or another biologist at the DNR.

Enjoy the mild start to spring, and enjoy watching the wildlife. Just remember to watch safely from a distance!

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