Spring Wildlife Dos & Don’ts

Spring Wildlife Dos & Don’ts

Photo by Leena Robinson

As the weather warms up and new leaves start to grow on the trees, wild animals become very active. Springtime is a great time to see birds returning from migration, animals searching for mates and nesting sites, and the arrival of young.

A wild animal’s chief concern is survival. They need food, water, space and shelter. Any available area that provides these things is an opportunity for them to create a home. In order to happily co-exist with native wildlife so that we can enjoy watching them without creating problems for them or ourselves, there are a few simple things to keep in mind.

The most important thing to remember is that wildlife need very little from us — we must respect their space and do no harm.

Watching native wildlife can be a treat — even in our own backyards! Here are some suggestions for a wildlife-friendly backyard:

  • Check for nests before cutting down a tree or clearing brush.
  • Place caps on chimneys, vents and window wells to prevent wildlife from falling in or nesting in your home.
  • Keep pets under control so that they don’t injure or eat backyard wildlife.
  • Keep your pet’s food inside, not outside on porches or decks.
  • Keep trash cans locked or inside the garage.
  • Demonstrate respect for wildlife and their homes; teach children not to catch or harass them.
  • Exercise caution when driving and watch the roadside for wild animals, especially at dawn and dusk.

When at home or visiting the parks, remember to keep animals wild and healthy by not feeding them.

Feeding wildlife creates unhealthy conditions. Animals congregate in areas where they are fed, causing several problems. They exceed the carrying capacity of their habitats and become overcrowded. High levels of fecal matter are concentrated in one area, which causes unsanitary conditions for animals and people. Diseases can be passed from one animal to another when areas are overcrowded.

Foods that are not part of their natural diet (bread, popcorn, shelled corn and cereal) are “junk food” to wild animals. They lack many of the nutrients the animals need in order to stay healthy.

Feeding wildlife causes loss of wild instincts. Wild animals that are routinely fed by humans become habituated to humans for food and lose their healthy fear of them. If you want to help out wildlife, plant native plants and wildflowers that provide nutritious berries and seeds.
Injured Wildlife
If you find an injured and/or orphaned animal, the best thing to do is call a wildlife hotline immediately (Lake Metroparks’ is 440-256-1404 ext. 2131). Injured animals can be very defensive even when they are hurt and weak. When you call a wildlife hotline, you will be given the best and safest information on what to do next.

If you find a young animal by itself that is not injured, please remember that wild parents know what’s best for their young. Animals are often left alone, which is part of their development and how they learn survival skills. We don’t need to get involved! Most young animals don’t have a scent. If the parents have hidden them in the grass or elsewhere, predators will not be attracted to them. The parents will come back for them when it is safe.

— By Tammy O’Neil, Wildlife Care Manager for Lake Metroparks

Each year, Lake Metroparks’ Kevin P. Clinton Wildlife Center treats more than 2,000 injured and orphaned wildlife. Many eventually recover from their injuries and resume their lives in the wild. The center is home to permanently injured Animal Ambassadors including reptiles, mammals and birds of prey. These animals assist staff in teaching about wildlife issues and conservation. Visit the Wildlife Yard to get an up-close look at all of the amazing animals! The yard is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Healthy Kids Begin with Involved Parents

According to Buckeye Health Plan, establishing a relationship with a pediatrician is the first step parents can make for the health of their children. The company offers the following facts and tips as part of Every Kid Healthy Week, which takes place April 24-28.

Thousands of Ohio’s children do not receive the preventative care they need to be healthy now and into adulthood. Only one in three children in the United States is physically active every day, and one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) is obese, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Ohio’s children face an uphill battle when it comes to their health. According to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio:

  • Ohio ranks 46th out of 50 states on health value. This means that Ohioans are living less healthy lives and spend more on health care than people in most other states.
  • Ohio’s 2015 infant mortality rate was 7.2 per 1,000, which is 24 percent higher than the national rate and up from 6.8 percent the year before.
  • Ohio’s suicide rate for children ages 10-14 has now surpassed the death rate from traffic accidents among this age group.
  • Infant drug withdrawal has spiked in rural counties — the rate has climbed from about 1 in 1,000 births in 2004 to almost 8 per 1,000 births in 2013.
  • State immunization requirements are not being met — on average, 8.5 percent of new students in Ohio didn’t have complete vaccinations by mid-October of 2015.
  • Ohio ranks sixth in the nation for the highest rate of food insecurity (households facing uncertainty or limited ability to provide food) and ranks highest in the region. Food insecurity impacts educational achievement, health outcomes and productivity.

 

These and other issues point to the need for parents to take an active role in their child’s health.

According to Dr. Brad Lucas, medical director for Buckeye Health Plan, taking an active role doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Developing a strong relationship with your child’s pediatrician is a great start. Buckeye encourages parents to schedule well-child visits and talk to their pediatrician about their child’s health on a regular basis.

“Pediatricians are in the best position to assess and guide a child’s health plan,” says Lucas. “They are not just looking at a child’s physical symptoms, but looking at all aspects that could have an impact on a child’s health.”

Healthy Kids Start with Well-Child Visits

Regularly scheduled well-child visits allow your child to become familiar and comfortable with health care professionals. They also allow your pediatrician to get to know and understand your child, which helps them provide the best care and preventative recommendations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are many benefits of well-child visits:

  • Prevention: Well-child visits include scheduled immunizations, which can protect infants from 14 serious childhood diseases such as whooping cough, measles, mumps, polio, tetanus and chickenpox.
  • Tracking growth and development: Make the most of your child’s check-up. Always bring a list of concerns or topics to discuss with the pediatrician. This list can cover physical, mental, language and social skills and whether your child is reaching developmental milestones on schedule.
  • Team approach: Regular visits create a trusting relationship among the pediatrician, parent and child, which helps develop the best physical, mental and social health of the child.

— Submitted by Buckeye Health Plan, which offers rewards as part of its “Start Smart for Your Baby” and “Be Well!” programs that encourage members to take an active role in their child’s health care. The programs include incentives that reward Buckeye members for their healthy activities (such as $100 for infant well-care visits or up to $100 for adolescent well-care visits for those 12-21 years old. Call 866-246-4358 or visit www.buckeyehealthplan.com for more information.