Education, another thing we do

In addition to helping sick, injured and orphaned animals, as one of the ONLY organizations dealing with wildlife issues in the area, we get a lot of calls and emails about so-called ‘nuisance’ wildlife.  You have my sympathy if a squirrel gets in your house and you can’t get him out: they can cause loads of damage. But if you call me and say, “There is a large raccoon in my tree! I called the city and they are closed because today is a holiday!” I will say, “Ok, what is your question?” and the person will cough and sputter and exclaim, “WHAT is my question?! I want to know how to get rid of him!”. Then, I have little sympathy. It’s a wild animal. They live outside.  You will encounter them. I can’t stand when people think that merely SEEING a wild animal is a problem requiring a phone call to someone who will ‘take it away’.

My friend Lori had a funny answer to such a potential call: “Is the tree in your living room? If not, the raccoon is where he is supposed to be, doing what he is supposed to be doing!” That made me laugh.

Anyway, when I got the following email, I sighed:

An Opossum appeared in our yard early this morning. We would like to know if you know of anyone who can capture the creature and remove it to a better location than on our lawn.

Where exactly is a better location than your lawn? That’s where wild animals belong: outside. Anyway, I half heartedly wrote the following reply, not thinking it would have any effect. (I suggest a ‘wildlife exterminator’ as a shock tactic only):

Thanks for contacting us. By the time you receive my reply, your opossum may well be gone, but in case he isn’t, I hope you will consider just leaving him alone. Opossums are harmless, non-aggressive (they will run away from you, perhaps growl, but won’t attack unless handled or cornered), are not prone to carrying rabies , and have many benefits, including eating slugs, snails, cockroaches, carrion, etc. Opossms are North America’s only marsupial, and the earth’s oldest mammal.  They are a part of nature’s ‘clean up crew’ . And unless your lawn is in your house, he is exactly where he is supposed to be – outside, where wild animals live, all around us.

Oppossums are nomads, meaning to they don’t stake up a territory and stay there permanently – they are always on the move. The reason they would stay in one place for a long time is if there is a steady food supply. So, if you or your neighbors are feeding cats or dogs outside, that will bring the possums and raccoons closer to you. Remove the food, the animals leave.

We do not advocate trapping and relocating wildlife. It’s unlawful unless done by a licensed person, and it’s cruel: you could be separating a mother from her juveniles at this time of year, or placing the oppossum in an unsuitable place where he could starve before finding food. Also, it’s futile – if your property is attractive to ONE oppossum, other possums will like it too.  Removing him is like putting up a ‘vacancy’ sign. The best way to keep wildlife further from your house is to ensure all trash is secured, and no food is left outside. There are other methods to use for territorial animals.

If you are still concerned and want him removed, you’ll need to contact a wildlife exterminator. You can find one with a google search.

I hope you’ll consider co-existing with the wildlife that is all around us. If you have any questions about any species, you are always most welcome to contact us.

So, I was shocked when I got a reply from her:

Thank you, sincerely, for your prompt and informative response to my email.
I will co-exist with the opossum; the thought of a wildlife exterminator makes me want to cry…I could not consider it.  Having gained additional knowledge about the opossum with the help of BING, and your enlightening words, below, I wish the little guy/gal a happy life!
Thank you so much for caring.
So it is a total win. She learned about oppossums, and decided to co-exist with our wild brethren. Now, if I can only get her to do something about using BING…still, can’t win ’em all.

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