Wildlife and our garbage

With the summer heat setting in we are all looking for a cool treat or drink. Iced coffee’s/caps, flurries, blizzard treats and such are favored by many, and all these have one thing in common…That little plastic lid with the big hole in it.

Those lids are turning out to be a huge challenge for our scavenging wildlife. Their heads will go in the cups, but when they pull out their heads they find these plastic lids stuck around their neck.

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Me holding a skunk with a lid stuck around his neck   

I am not exaggerating. It is a common occurrence and it can cause some serious issues. I have on many occasions been busy live trapping animals in such a predicament. The variety of wildlife that find themselves adorned with an ice cap necklace is surprising. It ranges from raccoons, skunks to opossums and even a squirrel who had one wrapped around his belly. Those lids are right up there with balloons, 6 pack plastic rings, fishing line and fishing lures for causing harm to wildlife.

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Fish line wrapped tightly around the leg of a goose
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another goose leg with fish line wrapped around it in this case so tight for so long the leg was lost.
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Someone missing a fishing lure? Hooked not ones but twice in this goose foot/leg.

As people we often do things such as release balloons to celebrate something. The balloons will return to the earth eventually and many cause harm to wildlife when they are ingested.

slightly of topic, but another issue I have is with the releasing of doves to celebrate weddings and such. I often get calls about sad looking white doves that are not doing well. That is what happens with those doves. They are domestic birds, raised in a domestic environment and they have no idea how to survive in the wild and they don’t belong in the wild. They are not a native species.

Those things are bad enough, but worse yet are the occurrences when someone does something seemingly innocuous like dumping some left over diesel/gasoline fuel down a catch basin. The dumped fuel proceeds to travel into a nearby creek and eventually ends up in one of our Great Lakes.

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Swan who was covered in diesel fuel.

At Hobbitstee we have an oil rescue team on standby at all times and we have seen first hand the devastation these types of easily prevented spills causes in waterfowl and semi-aquatic mammals. It is heartbreaking to watch majestic swans succumb to respiratory issues as a result from inhaling fuel fumes or struggle to clean oiled geese or ducks.

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geese covered in oil

I respectfully ask that as we enjoy the great outdoors this summer that we take care with our garbage. Garbage belongs in garbage cans. Garbage cans that need to be wildlife proof. Let’s dispose of dangerous goods the right way and not by polluting our creeks and lakes. And those balloons released at weddings or to send messages to loved ones in heaven can cause wildlife to suffer or die upon returning to the earth, so let’s come up with some better less polluting ways of conveying our joy or sadness.

I suggest and encourage the planting of native species of trees and/or plants to commemorate events and to remember loved ones who have passed.

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Our Turtle Project needs your help

Every year we have done more and better with our turtle project. Last year we worked with several agencies and where successful in getting turtle crossing signs erected in a sensitive wetland area. We are continuing to work on getting more of these signs erected.
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We successfully assisted a variety of injured turtles and we also hatched turtle eggs we recovered from a gravid turtle female killed on the road.
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These hatchlings where recently released and in doing so we where able to somewhat reduce the genetic loss of the breeding age female who lost her life on her way to lay her eggs.

With some of the funding we received from Imperial Oil we where able to purchase a new incubator. Turtles mostly lay their eggs during the month of June, so we ask that if you see a recently deceased turtle during the month of June that you collect it for us (please wear gloves) and get it to us asap. We need the whole turtle and the exact location where the turtle was found. The dead turtle needs to be kept at what ever the temp is and should not be refrigerated.  We are hoping to recover and hatch as many eggs as possible to help our ailing turtle population.

I know this is asking a lot, but we really need your help with this as we lack the funding, resources and man-power to drive all over to pick up dead turtles.

Keep in mind that we can not and will not touch (and neither should you) actual active nest sites no matter how inconvenient the location of those nests may be. Doing this would be a violation of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act as well as the Endangered Species Act. 7 out of the 8 species of turtles we have in ON are on the Endangered Species List.

As always we also ask you to be on the look out for turtles on the road. They need help crossing, but please don’t risk human lives in doing this. Make sure it is safe for you to pull over and get out of the car. Please cross turtles in the direction they are going and don’t move them to a different location or turn them around. They are purposely going somewhere and disrupting them is not helpful.

If you find an injured turtle we can help. Thanks to some of the Imperial Oil funding we will be able to rehab more turtles this year as we where able to add some much needed housing for larger turtles like Snapping Turtles. Please do not leave an injured turtle by the side of the road and do nothing. Call us, Call he local humane society, animal control or another wildlife facility. Our turtle population is declining and each specimen counts. Never transport a turtle in water (they might drown).

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Even if the injuries on the turtle look really bad, please don’t just leave it to die a slow painful death. Turtles are able to recover from some really serious injuries, but if they can’t they deserve a humane end.

The turtle in the picture below was dropped off at a vet clinic. The vet in question was going to euthanize her because he thought the injuries where to serious. He opted to give us a call and we where able to help her make a full recovery.

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Another problem turtles have to deal with is fishing hooks/lines. They get tangled in the discarded line and some of the larger turtles have a habit of swallowing baited hooks. Fishermen, please take your discarded line with you and please don’t just cut your line when you snag a turtle. Research has shown that prevalence of swallowed fishhooks increases with size.

This means that often it is Snapping Turtles who get hooked and in rare cases Spiny Softshell Turtles (only because the species it self is rare). Snapping Turtles are listed as special concern and the Spiny Softshell Turtles as threatened on the endangered species list.

Removing a fishhook from a large Turtle is not an easy thing, but I would still urge you not to simply cut your line as that could mean a long and slow death sentence for the turtle.

Luckily the fisherman who caught the Spiny Softshell in the picture knew what to do and she was helped by Dr. Sweetman from the Downtown Vet Clinic in Windsor. He surgically removed the hook and she made a full recovery.

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If the hook is swallowed and you are willing to take a change you can get the Turtle to bite down on a stick and use curved pliers to remove the hook by bending it back the same way it went in, but keep in mind that a Turtle neck can stretch a long way and that a bite can result in a serious injury.

The best way to hold a Snapping turtle is with one hand under its carapace (bottom shell) and using the tail to stabilize the turtle. Never pick a Snapping Turtle up by it’s tail as this can actually cause spinal injuries and causes a great deal of pain to the turtle.

If you need to transport a turtle a good size plastic tote or other type of box will do. Never transport a turtle in water (they may drown), make sure that there is air holes and that the turtle can’t tip the box or push the lid of.

If you can’t get the hook out because it is to deeply embedded or the turtle is uncooperative never hesitate to contact an Authorized Wildlife Custodian near you. We have the skills, tools and resources to deal with cases like this.

And lastly..we need funds to expand our turtle project. $350 buys us another incubator (and yes we need a couple more), $500 buys a Snapping Turtle Enclosure and $100 buys an enclosure for a smaller turtle. These are all things we will use for many years to come. $1000 buys the medication to take care of one injured Snapping Turtle, $45 buys and x-ray, $10 will feed a turtle for a day, so as you can see all donations count. In return for your donations we will send you a tax receipt and you will have the satisfaction in knowing you made a difference.

 

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us. chantal@hobbitstee.com or 519 587 2980