4 Ways To Help Urban Animals Thrive

On Animal Rescue Squad, some animals featured need assistance because they’re stressed in areas shared with humans. With population constantly on the rise, more animals face stresses of people unable to understand or cold to their unique needs. 

The stress animals experience in human spaces can be softened by people acting responsible and thoughtful. Where ever you hang your hat, there are ways to help the animals living in your environment. Below are four tips, collected from conservation websites, on assisting the birds and mammals that are native to big city areas. Even if your budget is shoe string, there are inexpensive ways to help the neighborhood fauna.

1) New to The Neighborhood? For The Wildlife, Do Some Homework

Homework.Via Flickr_Creative Commons

Around the world there’s a flow of animals, without the knowledge of city limits, attempting to find the materials to stay alive and raise families. Fortunately, a resident can easily devote some time discovering which animals are expected in any given living area. 

There’s a bounty of information about an animal’s seasonal habits in various U.S. regions. People can also discover what they already have or can obtain, to aid these animals. Websites, we find useful for a beneficial education include:

  • eNature.com
  • TheHumaneSociety.org
  • Audubon.org
  • ASPCA.org 
  • Nature.org

Early into your new living situation, record the local numbers needed for aiding injured city wildlife. File these numbers like any other important household information. 

An example of valuable local animal knowledge appears in episode three of Animal Rescue Squad. The Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay, Wales, treats some very ill seals. The center also aids some seal pups whose mothers left them on the shore while searching for food, perfectly normal animal behavior. Pups need to stay on shore until they grow the right coat for the water. Sometimes, humans mistake their waiting for abandonment. 

Individuals see the pups, and with the best intentions, take them off the beach. Their best intentions, however, leads to a pup stressed by sudden weaning and the loss of important parent time. Leaving the seal pups on the beach, no matter how lost they appear, as long as they’re near the water and secured from predators is, usually, best for their future ability to thrive.  

2) Keep Your Garbage In It’s Place, Help Others Clean Up.

1024px-Lowell_trash_barrels_and_trash_bags;_Lowell,_MA;_2011-12-08

This sounds like common sense. It may be the first step to being an overall good neighbor. Start with your home, then consider going beyond taking care of your own garbage. Once a week or so, walk around your property and neighborhood picking up loose garbage. While cleaning, get to know the area animals and record places and materials these animals are utilizing for shelters.  

Mammals and birds attracted to the garbage can hurt themselves attempting to get a meal. Securing garbage is the easiest step an individual can take to help animals already in the area. Your steps won’t keep all the animals safe (garbage is everywhere; you are one person). With luck, neighbors will follow your lead. You can suggest, also suggest a group clean-up at a future building or neighborhood meeting. 

3) Keep Pets Mostly Indoors/Take Precautions When Outdoors

Don't let the forlorn face fool you. It's for the best.

Don’t let the forlorn face fool you. It’s for the best.

Animal Rescue Squad loves pets. Each episode visits an animal hospital with a story about a pet whose life may be in danger. Along with the pet’s medical story, we learn how the pet enriches the life of its owner. For urban animals, trying to survive outside and sharing our spaces, a pet can cause a lot of problems.

Even when well fed, most cats hunt. It’s their instinct. An indoor cat may still find invaders, but it’s kill amount is greatly reduced, compared to an outside cat. Also, some neighbors may consider your pet cat a nuisance, and not tell you.

Who can forget the 2010 viral video of the woman placing a pet cat in the trash can? The woman pretends she enjoys the cat’s company, until she’s confident no one is near.

The pet tabby, Lola, survived the incident in one piece. Unfortunately, other pets experience abuse much worse than this at the hands of the angry or negligent. 

Certain dog breeds are also apt to kill animals, as part of their instinct. An owner often doesn’t find out until the first animal corpse is delivered.  Learn to protect the small animals, by paying attention to your dog’s hunting cues and providing distractions. 

At night, try flooding the backyard with light for a full minute before letting a hunting pet out. Nocturnal mammals and birds don’t always possess the sense of smell or memory to realize there’s danger. Some animals are also better than others at clearing out. It’s up to you to give them a chance.

Pet doors should too be secured at night and when you’re away. A door that opens into a warm house is impossible for animals to resist. Your pet and the new guest would rarely get along, so why risk any harm? 

4) Bird Feeding vs Planting

Residing in a smallish abode in a big city, you may think a bird feeder would be an easy way to help the birds. There’s a debate over the pros and cons of feeding birds in cities and public spaces around the world. Some speculate feeders disrupt a bird’s natural search for food. Many feel that they’re improving bird life by providing additional calories. 

Deciding to feed the birds in your area? Your first step should involve more of that homework mentioned above. Don’t just toss any old seeds at a a spot where you’d like to see some birds. Doing so can attract resource competing bird species and mammals to the scene if precautions aren’t taken. 

The feeding birds should have a place (a tree or higher elevation) to fly to with ease when they sense a threat near the feeder. Note the location of windows around a feeder that may pose a danger, as you don’t want any unintended collisions.  

Another consideration is does your city host any flying predators ? Some cities are reintroducing native predatory birds to their landscape. Many birds in one spot can attract these hunting birds from above for snacks. So far, the best way to cease their hunt is to take down the feeder for several months. 

The Audubon Society encourages planting  bird positive plants and trees in the neighborhood. Their logic is when humans moved in, centuries ago, landscapers replaced huge areas with decorative, but non-native plants. The transplanted flora usually relies on additional human intervention, such as special soil, water, or fertilizer, to survive in a foreign region. The newer plants also don’t give much to the local animal or insect population.

Native plants and trees tend to require less cost than a year round supply of seed. Plants can be introduced by window container, on a porch, or balcony. With native seeding, you’re helping the bird population be sustained by the region. 

Consider the suggested actions above as small steps to do more for the animals where you live. Feel good doing your part to help the animals in your neighborhood!  Also, watch Vibrant TV’s latest program,  Animal Rescue Squad, and see other groups aiding animals around the globe.