Here’s what to watch for with this spring’s baby animals in British Columbia

According to the BC SPCA, every spring hundreds of baby wild animals are brought to centers in need of care.

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It’s officially spring and that means pretty pink buds on the trees, warm and inviting patios for margaritas with friends, and of course lots of those adorable baby animals.

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It can also be a time when many of these wild hatchlings may seem abandoned. But before you tie this fawn to a seat belt and bring it home to befriend your dog, you might want to take heed of the experts’ advice.

Photo credit: David Chambers.
Photo credit: David Chambers.

Deer sometimes leave their young alone while they forage for food, and the BC SPCA says sometimes healthy babies are mistakenly brought to the center by concerned citizens.

However, they can also be orphaned if the parents have been hit by a car or attacked by a predator. So how can a concerned citizen make a difference?

Vanessa Isnardy, spokesperson for WildSafeBC, said anyone encountering a newborn animal that appears to have been abandoned should keep their pets, such as cats and dogs, away from the animal.

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She said people should keep their distance, avoid interfering as much as possible and call the Conservation Officer Service (1-877-952-7277) for advice.

When trimming trees and hedges, the BC SPCA advises people to be careful not to disturb any bird nests that may be hidden among the branches. Hummingbird nests, for example, can be as tiny as a dollar with candy-sized eggs inside.

If you accidentally cut a branch with a nest, call the BC SPCA Animal Helpline for advice at 1-855-622-7722. The solution could be as simple as reattaching the branch, but depending on the situation, the entire babies nest may need to undergo a wildlife rehabilitation.

Baby raccoons in a birdbath.  Photo credit: Colleen Daniels.
Baby raccoons in a birdbath. Photo credit: Colleen Daniels.
Baby raccoons.  Photo credit: Hiro Hosono.
Baby raccoons. Photo credit: Hiro Hosono.

The BC SPCA said all branches are preparing for the arrival of babies, but the Wild ARC is busiest in the spring due to hundreds of newborn animals.

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The agency said orphaned hummingbirds are often the first babies to arrive at Wild ARC each spring, and staff were already caring for a young baby bird that fell from the nest. Hummingbirds should be hand-fed every 10 minutes when young, according to the BC SPCA.

Young hummingbird.  Photo credit: BC SPCA.
Young hummingbird. Photo credit: BC SPCA.
Baby hummingbirds.  Photo credit: Judy Mitchell
Baby hummingbirds. Photo credit: Judy Mitchell

They are housed in mini incubators with specially designed soft mesh baskets to keep them at the right temperature and ensure they don’t damage their delicate feathers.

Deer fawns begin arriving at Wild ARC in late spring, often orphaned because their mother was hit by a car or injured by a predator or unruly off-leash dogs. Babies need a special formula mix and again, anyone who finds one should call the provincial RAP line at 1-877-952-7277.

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Bald eagle with eaglets.  Photo credit: Susanne de Montreuil.
Bald eagle with eaglets. Photo credit: Susanne de Montreuil.

And it’s the same with coyotes.

Do you remember last summer when there was an attack in Stanley Park every two weeks, including several children? Well, experts say they might be more aggressive in the spring because they’re making their den.

Dana McDonald, environmental stewardship co-ordinator for the Vancouver Parks Board, said they could be a little bolder and hold their ground to keep people out of their dens.

“If that happens, the ideal is just to keep moving forward. If a coyote is approaching you, then make noise, wave your hands, shake a noisemaker,” she said, adding that puppies will rarely be found alone without a parent.

She said they don’t know how many coyotes remain in Stanley Park, but they’re confident there are still some left and they live in the forested areas. McDonald added that it’s really important that people don’t feed them so they get used to humans.

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“It leads coyotes to become aggressive and when a coyote becomes aggressive it needs to be removed. So it’s a bit like this sentence, fed bears are dead bears. The same is true for coyotes.

A coyote chases squirrels in Stanley Park in Vancouver in December 2012.
A coyote chases squirrels in Stanley Park in Vancouver in December 2012. Photo by Wayne Leidenfrost /PNG files

Staff will take more steps to limit coyotes’ access to food in the park, she said, such as upgrading garbage cans. In Vancouver, it is illegal to feed wildlife in the park.

During coyote whelping season, it’s also very important to keep your dog on a leash, McDonald said.

Those who want to help provide formula and other forms of help for wild animal babies can donate to the BC SPCA.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

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