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Wildlife help topics

Wildlife

Research suggests that lobsters (along with other decapod crustaceans such as crabs) have the capacity to feel pain. While some believe the science is inconclusive, others consider the evidence as strong as the evidence for pain in fish.

The BC SPCA believes that it is best to err on the side of caution by avoiding potentially painful practices such as boiling these animals alive. Instead, we recommend that lobsters be humanely killed by trained and competent personnel before purchase. Humanely killing a lobster is typically a two-step process: the animal is first rendered insensible (incapable of feeling pain) before being killed.

Category: Wildlife

As an animal welfare organization, the BC SPCA acknowledges that recreational fishing for food and for sport is an important activity to many Canadians.

We believe that recreational fishing — like hunting — should be carried out in an ethical, humane, responsible and sustainable manner by qualified and experienced anglers, who abide by applicable laws and regulations. The best possible angling practices and handling methods that minimize stress should be employed, together with the use of gear that causes the least amount of injury and pain.

When fish are caught to be eaten, they should be killed humanely. The handling methods and equipment used should ensure that fear and pain are kept to absolutely minimal levels prior to and during killing.

When catching and releasing fish, anglers should take into account how much the fish is likely to suffer, and how likely the fish is to survive. Ultimately, catch-and-harvest may be preferable to catch-and-release, given how poorly fish can fare after they are released. Studies have shown that, depending on the species and method of capture, post-release mortality can range from 0 to 95 per cent.

Sockeye salmon in river
Photo credit: Fernando Fessa
Category: Wildlife

Though some are still skeptical, evidence that fish can feel pain has been growing for decades. It has now reached a point where the sentience of fish (their ability to perceive, experience and feel) is acknowledged by leading scientists and organizations around the world. For instance:

“…there is as much evidence that fish feel pain and suffer as there is for birds and mammals…”

Dr. Victoria Braithwaite, author of Do Fish Feel Pain?

“The evidence of pain and fear system function in fish is so similar to that in humans and other mammals that it is logical to conclude that fish feel fear and pain. Fish are sentient beings.”

Dr. Donald Broom, Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge

“…it would be impossible for fish to survive as the cognitively and behaviourally complex animals they are without a capacity to feel pain.”

Dr. Culum Brown, editor of The Journal of Fish Biology

“…the preponderance of accumulated evidence supports the position that finfish should be accorded the same considerations as terrestrial vertebrates in regard to relief from pain.”

American Veterinary Medical Association

Like other animals, fish respond to painful events with changes in their behaviour and physiology. While the parts of their brain involved in the pain response are not anatomically the same as in mammals, for example, their function is very similar. Pain teaches fish to avoid things that cause them harm, helping them to respond effectively to their environment and, ultimately, to survive.

Category: Wildlife

Yes, some school programs will give you credit for volunteering with the BC SPCA.

Practicums at Wild ARC are available for university and professional training credits.

Practicums at the Vancouver Branch are also available to university students if registered through the University of British Columbia.

High-school work experience may also be available at your local BC SPCA branch. Contact them directly for details.

Veterinary and registered animal health technologist externships may also be available at certain BC SPCA Hospitals and Clinics. Contact them directly for details.

Even small oil spills can harm wildlife. Report all oil spills to the provincial government at 1-800-663-3456. If you do not see a clean-up response within 24 to 48 hours, call again – the frequency of calls increases the likelihood of response.

Don’t try to wash an oiled wild animal yourself, always call a professional wildlife rehabilitator. Call our Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for advice or to find a rehabilitator.

For more information, visit our page on oiled wildlife spill response.

Category: Wildlife

The BC SPCA can’t stop a cull happening in your community, unless the methods are inhumane under the law. If you witness an animal in distress during a cull, call our Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722. Document evidence by taking videos or photographs, but do not trespass on private property.

The BC SPCA is opposed to culling animals when there is no evidence to support it, or it can’t be done humanely. International and BC SPCA experts agree there are many steps that must first be taken to justify ethical wildlife control.

Deer culls

The BC SPCA recommends using non-lethal strategies to solve human-deer conflict. Communities should aim to prevent conflict by educating residents about co-existing with urban deer. Culling is only a temporary solution and should not be a default practice.

Read our position statement on urban deer.

Download our urban deer pamphlet (PDF).

Wild deer on dried grass buck and young deer looking at each other
Photo credit: Karen Guy

Wolf culls

Wolf culls in B.C. and Alberta have drawn significant criticism. Experts criticize the inhumane methods and lack of evidence that killing wolves will save caribou or other species. Culling can break up wolf pack structures and create an imbalance with other species in the area. Even with skilled shooters, shooting wolves from helicopters can cause stress and death may not be quick and painless.

Read our position statement on predator control.

Photo by Grayson Pettigrew

The BC SPCA is frequently contacted from people wishing to donate their fur coats to the BC SPCA Wild ARC, and this has been so successful over the last few years that we now have an overabundance of furs!

If you have an old fur coat and your local wildlife rehabilitation centre cannot take it, please consider donating it to be sent up north to communities living in the Arctic.

Fur is considered a necessity in this part of Canada, where temperatures can drop below zero for nine months of the year and can get as cold as -65C with the windchill. Fur and leather are also very expensive in the Arctic, so donating fur coats is a positive way to support northern communities where fur coats are upcycled and created into various types of new garments.

For more information on the furs to the Arctic program, contact: furs2thearctic@shaw.ca.

Category: Wildlife

Crows and ravens can be hard to tell apart, especially from far away. Crows are smaller than ravens – they have a wingspan of about 92 cm, compared to a raven’s 117 cm.

Northwestern Crow perched on branch
Northwestern Crow

Crows
Smaller, straight beak
Fan-shaped tail
Characteristic “caw”
~92 cm wingspan

 

 

Young Common Raven
Young Common Raven

Ravens
Large, thick, rounded beak
Diamond-shaped tail
Deeper “croak”
~117 cm wingspan

Category: Wildlife

When wild animals get into our yards and our homes, we sometimes call them “pests”. Rodents are the most common cause for pest control in our houses, but sometimes animals like raccoons, deer, rabbits and pigeons get into trouble too. Even “pests” deserve to be treated humanely.

The best solution is to prevent the problem before it starts. Make sure you’re not accidentally giving them food (like pet food, bird seed, fruit trees, fish ponds) or shelter. Make sure your garbage and compost is in wildlife-proof containers. Seal gaps or holes in sheds, crawl spaces, attics and porches before they become a comfy nest or den.

Wildlife removal

Trapping and relocating wildlife is not a permanent or humane solution. Trapping in the wrong season can also orphan babies. If you have to remove an animal, call an AnimalKind company that gently removes them instead of trapping/relocating or killing.

If there are no AnimalKind companies in your area, find out how to choose a good pest control company.

Learn more about urban wildlife.

Photo by Liron Gertsman

Glueboards

Glueboards or glue traps are plastic or metal trays coated with glue designed to catch rodents. These traps are legal and can be found in stores, but they cause rodents and other animals to suffer tremendously. Birds, small wildlife and even pets can get caught in this sticky situation. Never use glueboards!

Lola the kitten was found stuck to a glue board in West Kelowna and, luckily, was saved. Photos courtesy of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.
Photos courtesy of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.
Lola the kitten was found stuck to a glue board in West Kelowna and, luckily, was saved. Photos courtesy of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.
Photos courtesy of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.
Lola the kitten was found stuck to a glue board in West Kelowna and, luckily, was saved. Photos courtesy of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.
Photos courtesy of Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rodent poisons and snap traps

Rodent poisons or “rodenticides” are legal and used widely, but they cause a slow and painful death. Rodenticides are also dangerous for owls, eagles and even cats that eat poisoned rodents. Snap traps cause a quick death for mice and rats, but can be dangerous to wildlife and pets unless they are kept in a locked box or wall interior. Call an AnimalKind company if you need help with mice and rats in your home.

black box for rodent poison glue board traps
Poisons and glueboards can be hidden in boxes like this

What is “humane”?

Any company can call themselves “humane” – but like many food-labelling claims, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are using animal-friendly methods. What does humane mean to you? A scientific poll of British Columbians in September 2015 found that the public interprets “humane” in different ways:

Vision Critical poll conducted for the BC SPCA in September 2015. Results have been statistically weighted according to current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire population of British Columbia (n=803, margin of error ±3.4%).
Category: Wildlife

Baby ducks and geese can usually make their own way down from a nest on a roof. But, they may need your help if:

  • The building is more than six meters (two storeys) in height
  • There is a barrier higher than 13 cm preventing them from hopping down
  • The ground below is concrete, cement or other hard material

In any of the above cases, call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 to help you develop a rescue plan.

Wild canada goose with four cute goslings by water on the grass
Photo credit: Heather Marie Toews
Category: Wildlife

Ducks sit on their nest for three to four weeks before the babies hatch. To prevent the babies from hopping into the pool, cover the pool a few days before you expect the babies will hatch. The babies are small and don’t have waterproof feathers, so they can get hypothermia or drown if left in the water.

If a baby duck or goose ends up in your pool:

  1. Toss floating objects, like flutterboards, in the pool immediately to give babies temporary resting places
  2. Make a ramp using foam pool floats, patio chair cushions, or a wooden plank. You can use an empty pop bottle tied to the underside to help it float
  3. Use a pool skimmer to herd babies towards ramps, but don’t chase them. Chasing causes more stress and will exhaust the babies
  4. Open the gates to the pool area so the family can move out and find a better water source

If you need further advice on a nesting duck or goose family, call our Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722.

A Duck family

Category: Wildlife

After ducklings and goslings hatch, their parents walk the babies (who can’t fly yet) to nearby water sources. Sometimes the families get stuck at road medians if they try to cross a highway or busy street. This creates a tricky situation where both the animals and the rescuers might be in danger. Trying to herd the family can cause them to panic and run into traffic, and rescuers may disrupt traffic or risk their own safety.

The best way to help duck or geese families trying to cross the street is to contact local police for help stopping traffic. Once traffic is stopped, slowly and calmly herd the babies and parents to safety. Only try to capture the family if necessary for their safety. If the parents (or babies) panic and scatter, the rescue and reunion can become complicated.

Call our Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for help with wildlife issues, including advice on how best to help duck or goose families.

Category: Wildlife

Classrooms are an unnatural and stressful setting for wild or exotic animals. Seeing these animals outside of their natural wild habitat does not provide educational benefits and will likely lead to their early death.

Also, wild and exotic animals can carry diseases that may be passed onto children, who are still developing their immune systems.

There are many ways to experience and appreciate wild and exotic animals in nature, online or through documentaries. Compassion starts young, so let’s keep animals in nature.

Read our positions on classroom pets, educational visits using animals, exotic pets and wildlife welfare.

 

Raccoons may establish a toilet or “latrine” site in backyards. Raccoons are not carriers of rabies in B.C., but their poop may contain raccoon roundworm eggs that can be dangerous to people and pets. Try using motion-sensor lights or sprinklers to prevent raccoons from using your backyard as a toilet.

Avoid direct contact with the feces, and wear gloves and a face mask for protection. Scoop the feces up using a plastic bag or shovel, close tightly and place in the garbage. Use boiling water to destroy any roundworm eggs on every surface or item that touched the feces. If you can’t use boiling water on the surface or item, using a 10% bleach solution will dislodge roundworm eggs so they can be rinsed away.

If you need help getting a raccoon out of your house, call an AnimalKind company.

For more information on managing raccoons, read or print our best practices (PDF).

Cute wild raccoon sitting against tree trunk eating seeds
Photo credit: Martin Smart
Category: Wildlife

Bats are the only wild carrier of rabies in B.C. and should never be touched or directly handled. Rabies can spread through just a drop of a bat’s saliva. Vaccinate your pet to protect them from contracting rabies.

If a bat has had any skin contact with a person, the bat must be euthanized and tested for rabies. If a bat has had contact with a pet, the bat may be sent for rabies testing. Contact your doctor, veterinarian or local public health authority immediately in cases of contact with a bat. Learn more about rabies transmission.

Bat populations are in decline, and injured bats can be rehabilitated. Call our Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for advice on safely containing bats and finding a wildlife rehabilitator.

Category: Wildlife

Small deceased wild animals can be buried or put in the garbage. For larger animals on private property, you may need to contact a waste removal company for help.

For dead animals found on public land, contact your local animal control or public works office for removal.

Dead birds

Mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus from birds to people. Although the virus isn’t transmitted from animals to humans, avoid handling dead birds with your bare hands. If you find a dead bird with a leg band, record the letters and numbers and contact the Ministry of Environment at 1-866-431-2473.

For more information on West Nile virus, contact HealthLinkBC or the BC Centre for Disease Control.

Category: Wildlife

Birds and people can both get West Nile virus, but birds don’t give it to humans. Infected mosquitoes transmit the virus to people.

Although the virus isn’t transmitted from animals to humans, it’s best to avoid handling dead animals or birds with your bare hands.

Wild pigeons on wood post cuddling giving a peck kiss
Photo credit: Tracy Riddell
Category: Wildlife

Bats are the only known wild carrier of rabies in B.C. Like cats and dogs, raccoons, squirrels, coyotes and skunks are capable of contracting the rabies virus, but are not considered carriers in B.C.

In other provinces like Ontario, raccoons, coyotes, skunks and foxes are wild carriers of rabies. Learn more about rabies transmission between people, pets, and animals.

Wild fox near water behind long grass looking curious
Photo credit: Jeremy Leete
Category: Wildlife

It is typically illegal to disturb a bird’s nest with eggs or chicks inside. The best solution is to wait a few weeks until the babies grow up. If there is a nest in an area that causes problems (above a building entrance, in a vent) you may need a permit from Environment Canada to move the nest legally.

For species-specific information on managing birds, read our best practices. If you have more questions about a nest of birds, call the BC SPCA Provincial Call Centre at 1-855-622-7722 for advice.

Category: Wildlife

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Photo by Tony Pace