While we all hunker down for the winter, it can be fun to watch some of the wildlife as they, too, try to stay warm and make it through the storms and temperature changes. If you have wildlife that like to visit your yard, there are some actions that you may want to take to both enjoy watching the critters and keep your lawn and garden safe. Continue reading to find out more about winter wildlife and what they may mean for your yard.
Some common animals that may find your yard appealing during the winter months include deer, coyotes, birds, and animals who may have awoken prematurely from their slumber due to an increase in temperature. These could include skunks, raccoons, gophers, and moles.
As you watch from the window, you may consider helping these creatures by putting out food so they have some sustenance. However, one of the main warnings from the Mass Gov website about feeding these animals is that it does way more harm than good. Environmental and wildlife experts say, “While people have good intentions, supplemental feeding of wildlife typically does more harm than good.”
Here are a few of the reasons why this is not a good practice:
- Feeding wildlife tends to congregate them in one area making the spread of disease more rampant and allows for predators to more easily find their prey.
- Feeding wildlife can attract them to a certain yard or area where grass and plantings can be trampled and eaten as well.
- Competition over food being put out can cause aggression between wildlife.
- Wildlife may need to travel distances to get to your yard, wasting energy and potentially crossing roads that will put them in further danger.
If you find that you have any of these wildlife in your area, watch and enjoy but allow them to do their instinctual thing and survive the way they know how. If the wildlife is destroying your yard, you may want to install barriers to protect your bushes and plantings.
Moles are ground–dwelling carnivores that prefer to eat insects instead of your garden plants. Okay, so if they aren’t eating your plants, then there is no problem right? Wrong! The underground tunnels associated with these animals can ruin your garden and lawn and make for easy access to your plants for other rodents. Since moles are underground so much you probably have not even seen them around your yard. That is why we thought it might be a good idea to discuss how to identify a mole and what to do if they have have found their way into your yard or worse yet, under your garden.
Moles are surprising little mammals with pointed muzzles, tiny eyes, and potato-shaped bodies. They grow to be 6 to 8 inches long and have gray to black velvety fur. Moles’ large front feet have long claws that dig much like a hoe. They are often confused with pocket gophers, ground squirrels, and voles. Moles tend to live underground so spotting them can be hard. In fact, you may never actually see a mole but rather see the destruction in the wake of the digging associated with these pests.
Signs that a mole has made it on to your property include: tunnels with piles of dirt with ridges. Since moles dig fairly deep, the tunnels will look like raised volcano-shaped swellings in your yard. Moles prefer moist areas where the grubs and worms are plentiful. Many times the tunnels follow along a foundation, driveway or lawn boarder. You may find these any time of year as they are active all year round.
Once you (or preferably a professional) have identified that, indeed you do have a mole, you will want to discuss options for excluding it from your yard. Home remedies are less effective than trapping by professionals and poisons can cause all sorts of problems with your health and safety if you don’t know what you are doing. Pro-Tech Lawn Care can evaluate your tunnels and see if they are gophers or moles and take the appropriate action to rid them from your lawn!
Many New Englanders revel in the joy of watching wildlife in their natural surroundings. Even in the cold of the winter, birds and deer can be seen scavenging for food and enjoying nature right in our own backyards! When proper feeding methods are followed this activity can be safe and entertaining for both the humans and the creatures. By having an area of your backyard dedicated to natural wildlife, then you can think of yourself as contributing to your local ecosystem. Here are a few tips to keep it safe and healthy.
- Research – Sure it is lovely to watch nature right in front of you, but do your homework to find out what animals tend to visit your area. If your region has a problem with bears, coyotes or foxes you may want to rethink inviting the wildlife anywhere near your home. If you have a skunk or raccoon problem, then you will want to find out ways you can prevent those critters from eating your feeders or ransacking your garbage. Once you have done your research, you can begin planning your yard accordingly.
- Food – Many people decide that winter is a great time to help out the local bird population that may be having trouble finding food during these cold, harsh winter months. Decide on the right type of food for the birds that you want to attract and put the feeder in a safe place that is away from places where other wildlife, like squirrels, can access it.
- Safety – Bird houses, martin houses, nesting boxes, and many other types of artificial structures provide shelter, cover and nesting habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. These are especially valuable in urban settings. However, when possible, consider natural cover such as thick shrubs and bushes. Creating brush piles and log piles will create habitat for wrens and other small cavity-nesting birds. The same goes for deer. If you feel like the deer may be exposing themselves to eat your food then it may not be a smart idea for their safety. In addition to considering other wildlife when placing feeders also consider windows.
Windows are great for watching birds and other wildlife but the annual mortality to birds in the United States from collision with windows range from 100 million to 1 billion. One study found that bird-window collisions were the second largest human source of bird mortality on earth.
Consider these tips when deciding to feed the birds and other wildlife in your area.