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One of the great things about living in Brooklyn Center is our access to natural areas and park land, while enjoying the comforts of suburban neighborhoods. However, wildlife sometimes become nuisances. Read on for answers to some common wildlife questions.
Q: A woodpecker in the neighborhood is pecking at my siding. Why is he attacking my house and what can I do about it?
Woodpeckers are an important part of our ecological landscape— they eat large amounts of insects and help to break down rotting wood. However, sometimes our houses serve as replacement habitat for lost trees. The three main reasons a woodpecker might be interested in your house include 1) drumming on siding to declare territory to other birds, 2) roosting and nesting when natural tree alternatives are scarce, and 3) hunting for insects living inside wood siding.
Woodpeckers are protected by state and federal law and cannot be trapped or killed without a permit. However there are several techniques you can try to mitigate annoying woodpecker behavior. Repair any holes or deterioration in the siding or soffit. Visual deterrents such as small mirrors, shiny metallic ribbons or balloons with painted eyes hung from problem areas of a home can all help deter a woodpecker for a while. Exclusion techniques such as hanging bird netting below the eaves or all the way from the eaves to the ground may help keep birds from getting near the house as well. Other mitigation techniques include wood treatments such as caulking, insecticides and sticky anti-roosting coatings.
Q: I recently noticed a shabby looking fox in my neighborhood acting strangely. What should I do?
As with any animal, if it seems ill or is acting strangely, do not approach the animal. Sick and frightened wild animals may be diseased or dangerous, so always use caution. Be sure to keep your pets inside or otherwise away from the wild animal.
Keep an eye on where the animal is and call 911 and ask for animal control. For wildlife, you may also contact the Department of Natural Resources at (651) 296-6157.
Although mange is a debilitating disease for foxes, it cannot spread to humans. Most foxes that contract mange have a healthy enough immune system to eventually fight off the disease. However, in some cases and more frequently in the winter, the disease can weaken the fox to the point of death. In those cases, death is often due to exposure or an inability to hunt or escape predators.
Q: I am worried about several dead squirrels I found in my yard. Who can I call for help?
The DNR is no longer testing birds or squirrels for West Nile virus at this time. Anyone curious about the cause of death of an animal can pay to have the animal tested. The Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota will test certain animals for a fee. Visit www.cvm.umn.edu/vdl or call (612) 625-8787. Fees vary depending on the type of animal and associated tests.
Q: How can I dispose of small dead birds and animals?
If you find a small dead animal in your yard, it may be disposed of in your regular trash collection. Because birds and animals die of many causes, including infectious diseases, it is important to handle dead animals in a safe manner. The following standard safety precautions are recommended:
• Make sure the animal is dead. If necessary, touch it with a long stick or toss a rock near it before you approach it.
• Avoid touching the dead animal with your bare hands. Use heavy-duty, leak-proof rubber gloves and a shovel.?
• Carefully pick up the dead animal with your hand protected by one or more layers of plastic bags. Then, turn the bag(s) inside-out over the animal so it ends up inside the plastic, with your hand on the outside.
• Handle the bird or animal so the beak or claws do not puncture the bag or gloves.
• Tightly close the plastic bag(s) containing the bird or animal. Tie the ends together or use a twist-tie to seal it shut. Place the bag inside another clean plastic bag (if available) and then close it tightly, too.
• Dispose of dead birds or small animals with your usual household trash.
• Wash your hands with soap and warm water right away.
Remember: Don’t feed wild animals!
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6301 Shingle Creek Pkwy. | Brooklyn Center, MN 55430 | Ph: (763) 569-3300