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Wise gardening saves wildlife this spring

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Spring arrives next week and with it comes man-made dangers ranging from chainsaws to pruning shears for newborns on the edge of the wild in Placer County. Gold Country Wildlife Rescue is poised to take in hundreds of baby birds and mammals as the foothills birthing season moves into full bloom in the next few months. As a preventive measure, officials with the non-profit group are putting a warning out to people as they get set to spruce up their yards. Small animals could be out there but off gardeners’ radar as people fire up their weed whackers and oil their pruning shears. That return to serious gardening could be harmful or even fatal for wildlife. The best way to keep them safe is to be aware and take some precautions, said Diane Nicholas, the wildlife rescue group’s vice president. One of the best precautionary measures people can take before starting yard work or brush clearing is to walk the property with an eye out for ground-based and above-ground nests, she said. Nicholas said nylon-string weed whackers can be particularly dangerous to ground nesters like rabbits, while the noise of machinery can startle animals into dangerous reactions. She noted that a fawn recently broke its back after being startled by grass cutting and running off an 8-foot ledge. Kari Freidig, a wildlife rescue volunteer, said rabbits freeze in one spot when they’re frightened and suffer horrible lacerations from string trimmers. “They’re scared to death,” Freidig said. “Just a brief walk around the property would help people avoid them.” It only takes a couple of weeks for babies to grow and leave the nest, she said. “People should be tolerant and give them the time they need,” Freidig said. That could mean trimming around a nesting area or keeping a branch up while nesting season is taking place. If wildlife is discovered, Gold Country Rescue advises people to leave the animals be if possible but seek their help if it is injured and truly in need of help. A parent may be nearby or will return soon. And if young birds are found on the ground, locate the nest and return them, the group says. The group also advises people not to attempt to raise wildlife. It’s not only illegal but wild creatures don’t make good pets, Freidig said. Young wild animals raised without contact with their own species fail to develop survival skills and fear of humans, virtually eliminating their chances of survival in the wild, she said. The rescue organization is also in need of funds to help with its fawn rescue efforts and has organized a Birdies for Bucks & Does golf event May 15 at Morgan Creek Golf and Country Club. Nicholas can be reached at (916) 847-1471 for more information.. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com. ------------- Tips to avoid harming wild critters -- Make things unclear Alert birds to large expanses of glass in your home, such as patio doors or picture windows, by hanging streamers, putting bird silhouettes on the glass surface, or even allowing the glass to stay a little dirty. Reducing the reflection should cut down on the number of birds who collide with the surface. -- Stoop to save Pick up litter that could harm wildlife, including six-pack connectors, fishing line and watch batteries. Plastic line and connectors can entangle and endanger. Batteries can cause mercury poisoning if ingested. - Cap that smokestack Place caps over all chimneys and vents on your roof to prevent birds, ducks and raccoons from taking up residence and becoming a nuisance or getting trapped. -- Go green Use non-toxic products on your lawn and in your garden. -- Stash the slick Motor oil should not be left in oil pans unattended. Birds often fall into the pans and few survive. -- Make the call If you find a wild animal that is injured or truly in need of help, call Gold Country Wildlife Rescue at (530) 885-0862. – Information from Gold Country Wildlife Rescue