One of the facts of suburban living is sharing our neighborhoods with local wildlife. As North Reading has become more built out, the natural habitats of the local wildlife has diminished which has lead to increased contact between humans and animals.
With this in mind, we would like to share some tips from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game on how to live with wildlife.
Do not feed wildlife: Direct feeding can alter an animal’s normal behavior. Problems occur when animals become habituated (used to people) through a prolonged period of direct and/or indirect feeding.
Keep trash and garbage around your yard contained and picked up: Do not put your trash out for pick up the next day unless it is in a sealed container that wildlife cannot get into as many wildlife species are most active at night.
Keep compost in a container that allows the material to vent but keeps wildlife from getting into it.
Do not feed pets outdoors: The pet food attracts wildlife right to your door.
Restrain or secure your pets: Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, there are wildlife predators like coyotes, foxes or fishers that view cats as potential prey and dogs as competition for mates and food resources. For the safety of your pets, keep them restrained at all times.
Remove bird feeders especially if wildlife is seen around the feeders: The seed in bird feeders can attract many small and medium sized mammals (squirrels, chipmunks, mice) these, in turn attract animals that prey on squirrels, chipmunks, and mice. If possible, try to find a bird feeder that does not allow seed to spill.
Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks and sheds: Wildlife will use these areas as dens for resting and raising their young.
Do protect livestock and produce: Wildlife predators will prey upon livestock. There are techniques for protecting livestock from predation. Fencing can be useful in keeping wildlife out of certain areas. It is a good idea to clear fallen fruit from around fruit trees in the fall.
Do not approach or try to touch wildlife: Wildlife which becomes habituated may approach other humans expecting food or attention. This is not safe for the animals or for people. Don’t provoke an encounter by moving too close to a wild animal or by restricting its free movement.
Do educate your neighbors: Share this information with your neighbors since your good efforts could be futile if neighbors are purposely or unintentionally providing food or shelter for wildlife.
More information from the Massachusetts Department of Fish & Game on local wildlife can be viewed at this link