Part 2: Urban fox populations illustrate the need to protect Ontario's ecosystems

Part 2: Urban fox populations illustrate the need to protect Ontario’s ecosystems

“They went to the gate.”

There comes a moment when releasing a rescued wild animal feels like it’s disappearing into a ‘gate’. Often dense thickets or tall grass the creature suddenly swallows up and returns to its natural habitat where it returns to its ideal hiding place.

Animals that go to the rescue are often injured and are eager to go home. Once they were healthy, they were back in the wild in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can watch them play or explore for a moment, before they’re gone forever – and hopefully, thrive after the rehabilitation journey.

Procyon Wildlife specializes in saving the life of a wounded or orphan. A licensed and registered charity in Bethune, Ontario that operates solely on donations and local sponsors, it sees raccoons, squirrels, deer, wolf, possums, rabbits, and sometimes birds of prey such as hawks, hawks, owls, small reptiles, and more. Caring for a lot of animals requires a dedicated team of workers and volunteers, but they are We are always looking to expand.

Marlina Berish, a Procyon volunteer for more than six years, says the experience helping wild animals is an educational one like no other.

“Working with wild species has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It is a privilege, it is a spiritual journey, it has taught me many lessons to be humble and to respect Ontario’s amazing biodiversity on a level that I cannot effectively describe in words,” says Berish. “I meet so many wild creatures that most people never interact with or get to know how hilarious, complex, and intelligent individuals are…and how each one has a purpose, woven into a beautiful intricate tapestry or habitat.”

Marlena Berish raises the launch site in search of habitat conditions that will help the rescued animals thrive.

(Alexis Wright/Pointer)

Every day, the eastern gray squirrel feeds the earth for insects, plants, seeds, nuts, and fruits. Once full, the squirrel then packs the rest of the seeds in the vicinity into its cheeks and then buries them in scattered “hiding spots” or special pockets along the forest floor. Bury nearly everything they find, and a survival tactic to ensure reduced competition and constant access to a food source, eastern gray squirrels are estimated to be responsible for at least 30 percent of the natural regeneration of forests each year.

(Marlina Berish photos)

The animals brought in need specialized care, and they have little chance of surviving without assistance. Qualified experts provide medical attention, but more often than not they see wildlife orphaned by human activity such as collisions with vehicles – a worrying upward trend with no plateau in sight. Without rescue operations to take care of and raise them before they are released back where they belong, these orphans will likely not be able to survive and the species’ inhabitants will face an even more dire fate. Many of them are already on edge, or not far from it.

Taking care of wild animals comes with breathtaking and heart-breaking experiences. Attempting to conserve a wild animal “wild” is complicated when inevitable human attachment after months of care prevents adaptation to the harsh conditions that surround the animals in their natural habitat. This is the biggest challenge we face when taking care of imprint animals like deer.

The rescued fox returns to its natural habitat. The red fox is the 12 largest species of true fox in the world. Their small size is deceptive because they are the top predator in their food chain, apart from humans. In 2002, Scotland banned fox hunting, and England and Wales followed two years later. They have been protected for more than 100 years under the Animal Protection Act of 1911. According to the Society of American Masters of Foxhounds, there are still approximately 144 regulated foxhounds hunting clubs in the United States and Canada.

(Alexis Wright/Pointer)

Red tusks are one of the countless species that maintain the balance of the ecosystem. Highly adapted to urban environments as well, they feed on small wild mammals, such as rabbits and mice, which are known to reproduce at very fast rates. These little animals have roles to maintain balance. They eat small insects, dropping food like seeds from other animals and plants that would overwhelm their habitat, but without predators like foxes, they would quickly overrun the city — and with populations rampant comes the perfect recipe for an uncontrollable outbreak of disease.

Foxes have long been described as having no predators, although they do compete with animals such as wolves for space and food within their habitats. However, another animal, never before seen in the field of foxes, is now putting enormous pressure on a range of species, threatening the presence of foxes in much of Ontario. Human activity pushes them out of their homes.

The sight of foxes in GTA has become popular; The City of Toronto provides the following information on its website to avoid conflict with the Fox:

  • Make a “protective skirt” to help discourage foxes from making a den.
  • Surround areas under patio roofs, awnings, and other places where foxes might make a den
  • Keep pets indoors or outdoors under supervision.
  • Foxes will eat litter and pet food left outdoors.
  • Take the green trash and trash cans to the curb on the morning of pickup.
  • Do not feed pets outside.
  • Foxes are more likely to visit or search for den sites near the house where people stay indoors most of the time.
  • If you see a fox in your garden, make loud noises directed at the animal. To chase the fox away, spray it with a garden hose. This will not harm the fox.

This is the human response to a man-made problem, one that hurts foxes more than us.

Although there is no immediate danger to children or pets, foxes can be beneficial tenants, not a threat. Coexistence is possible if we take the time to understand the very broad scope of life we ​​encounter every day. Animals like foxes and wolves are more afraid of humans than they are of them, but our reactions are often driven by fear and a lack of education. One way to change these misconceptions and end potentially harmful encounters (often with the animal suffering) is to get involved in or encourage schools and communities to provide outdoor education.

“On the other hand, I experience being at the center of the response to human-wildlife conflict,” Berish says. “Wildlife rehabilitation has also taught me a lot about loss, grief, suffering, intense work, how not every story ends peacefully, how habitat loss due to urban sprawl, roads that cut off travel or migration routes or deny access to integral survival resources such as bodies of water Food and shelter Lack of education for the growing population living near wildlife and [people] A lack of understanding of critical coexistence principles that regard wildlife over selfish human interests means the sad situations we sometimes get and can’t always deal with.”

Habitat fragmentation caused by the development of roads and subdivisions kills foxes by vehicles because speeding drivers are often unaware of the vast wildlife that surrounds all cities and towns in Ontario. Entire habitat loss from sprawling subdivisions and massive highways is the biggest human threat, not just to foxes.

(Alexis Wright/Pointer)

Volunteering to help wildlife has great benefits for both animals and humans. Countless studies have documented the many positives that arise from spending time in nature – improving one’s mental health – helping our natural world survive and thrive can provide an entirely different perspective at a time of increasing chaos.

Spending time helping wild animals can come in handy for another prominent challenge facing humans today: climate anxiety. Giving back to the environment in which our behaviors have directly affected us is a very effective way to restore hope to a seemingly bleak situation.

Raccoons are scavengers of woodland. These opportunistic eaters will eat anything they can get their hands on. Masked omnivores adapt easily to an urban habitat, and thrive anywhere there is access to food and water, although their favorite is lush greenery. A common myth about raccoons is that they like to “wash” their food before eating it; They don’t produce saliva and need fluids to help some dry foods go down smoothly.

(Alexis Wright/Pointer)

It’s hard to find people who care enough to stay committed, says Berish, but making friends with those who do have been rewarding.

“I’ve also experienced community, and what it means when wonderful people come together to do their best to offset human-wildlife conflict to help as many wild creatures small and large as possible who deserve a second chance at life in what could be the way of the world.”

It’s challenging but necessary work – especially as habitats are rapidly being lost not only to development but climate change as well, as a result of our holistic human approach to life on Earth.

Many residents across the GTA and other parts of Ontario have seen more and more foxes strutting along their streets and darting into backyards. While they can coexist with humans, their long-term survival will be threatened if their habitat continues to disappear at the rate our human population is exploding.

(Alexis Wright/Pointer)

Committed to rescue work, Berish and others, in the grand scheme of our ecological crisis, realized that a single animal might seem insignificant. But when you look at our incredibly complex planetary ecosystem, the way it should be – as one huge interconnected realm that keeps all life connected together – removing one major piece in this delicate balance is like Jenga.

Everything will fall apart in the end.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @lextoinfinity

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