All tangled up - is your yard safe for wildlife? - BC SPCA
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All tangled up – is your yard safe for wildlife?

November 7, 2023

Wild animals have a lot to worry about – from food, shelter and staying away from predators, to all kinds of human hazards. It’s not uncommon for wild animals to get stuck in things we throw away, or things that get left in their environment. There are a few common examples that the BC SPCA’s Animal Helpline receives calls about.

Fake spiderwebs or fake snow are fun ways to decorate your house for the holidays, but they’re scary for our wild neighbours! Fake spiderwebs and fake snow are often stretched across bushes, trees and windows outdoors. Unfortunately, birds and other animals getting stuck isn’t uncommon. Keep fake snow and spider webs inside where birds can’t get stuck. Or, get creative with other kinds of decorations!

Black-capped chickadee looking at fake spiderweb on bush
Chickadee photo by Penny Colton

If you do find a trapped bird, don’t pull on the bird because this can cause further injury to their delicate feathers and wings. Instead, cut the webbing around the entangled area to free the bird and then take them to the nearest wildlife rehabilitator. You can always call your local wildlife rehabilitator or our Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722 for advice.

Mid-October to December is the annual mating or ‘rutting’ season for deer. During rutting season, you might see deer rubbing their antlers on trees, scraping the ground with their hooves, or see deer “pushing” each other around. As the deer rub their antlers on trees and bushes, they might get tangled in Christmas lights, garden netting, or other low-hanging strings.

Take a look around your yard to make sure it’s safe for wildlife and free from items that could get tangled. Hang your Christmas lights up high to avoid an antler tangle.

Deer standing in snowy backyard
Photo credit: Shelby Murray

If the material is tangled only in the antlers, the situation will often resolve on its own. When the deer shed the velvet from their antlers at the end of the season, they’ll shed any tangled material too. But, the deer may need help if the material gets caught and slows them down, or if it tightens around their neck.

If you see an adult deer stuck and they can’t move, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277. A Conservation Officer may be able to help sedate and free them. If the deer is still able to move around, this may not be possible with people and traffic in the area. Sedating a deer can be startling, causing them to run off or bolt into traffic, which may cause an accident or further injury before the sedative has time to take effect.

Unfortunately, wildlife rehabilitators can’t often help injured adult deer. They are too high-stress to keep in a captive setting. Even when injured, they can be very dangerous because of their size and strength. Contact the Conservation Officer Service for any issues involving adult deer.

Barred owl with a green cast on their foot
Barred owl admitted to Wild ARC

It’s not uncommon for our Animal Helpline to receive calls about all kinds of entanglements. From animals caught in netting or wire, to birds swallowing fish hooks attached to a line, our wildlife rehabilitators have seen it all! This barred owl had come in for care with their talons badly tangled in loose netting.

Call your local wildlife rehabilitator or our Animal Helpline at 1-855-622-7722 right away if you find an animal:

  • caught in netting or wire
  • caught in plastic drink rings
  • having swallowed fishing line

Don’t try to remove any foreign object or free the animal by yourself – you might actually cause more harm than help. Swallowed or embedded fish hooks may appear removed on the outside, but inside, anything that remains can result in severe injury. If feet or paws get tangled, the loss of blood flow can quickly cause injury. Even an hour is a long time for a little paw! Always get advice from a rehabilitator before trying to cut an animal loose.