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Wildlife Information

Living With Wildlife

  

Skunks:

Although fairly docile and elusive creatures, skunks can be a nuisance because of their potential to spray.  Fortunately, skunks do not like the odour any more than humans. Healthy
skunks spray only when they feel threatened. If not caught by surprise, skunks will often stamp their front feet, growl, and/or hiss as a warning to potential victims. They may also walk a short distance on their front feet with their tail erect. When skunks exhibit any of these
behaviours, slowly back away.  A skunk can release its scent several times within a short period, reaching between 10-20 feet with the spray.

Skunks naturally den in lumber piles and logs, though they frequently find their way into residential areas where decks, buildings, and porches become home.  They are nocturnal, feeding on insects and small rodents but are increasingly found rummaging through garbage cans, gardens and compost piles.  They can dig holes in lawns and pose a threat to pets.  By following some of the guidelines mentioned below, you can prevent skunks from making a home in your yard.

Eliminate sources of food and shelter:

  • Do not leave pet food or water out overnight.
  • Keep garbage cans tightly closed.
  • Cover compost heaps with a lid.
  • Clean and tidy yards. Trash, brush, car bodies and loosely stacked lumber piled on the ground are some of the settings skunks look for to set up a home.
  • Completely enclose porches and decks with plywood, chicken wire, or lattice to prevent skunks from accessing these spaces.
  • Fully seal off all openings around and under buildings and mobile homes with sheet metal or plywood, buried to a minimum depth of one foot.
  • If you are going to store articles in the yard, keep them off the ground, and mow grass and weeds.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about skunks, contact: The Helen Schuler Nature Centre at 403 320 3064 or email hsnc@lethbridge.ca

Ticks:

Spring has arrived, and while that means spending more time outside to take advantage of warmer weather and longer days, it also means having to be watchful of ticks. 

Ticks are related to spiders, but are specially adapted to attaching themselves to a variety of species with their mouthparts in order to extract blood.  There are several species of ticks, many of which are found all over Alberta. Here in Lethbridge and the surrounding areas, the Rocky Mountain Wood tick is most prevalent.  The adults are most commonly found in the spring when they crawl onto tall grasses and shrubs, waiting to hitch a ride on a passing animal or human.
 
As a rule, wood ticks in Alberta do not pose a risk for humans. While they can transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularaemia, Colorado tick fever, and Lyme disease, it is extremely rare in Alberta.  Anyone who is bitten by a tick and then experiences fever, headaches, abdominal pain, a rash, nausea, or vomiting should consult a physician and make him/her aware of the tick bite.
 
To prevent ticks from attaching to you while out on walks, be sure to wear long sleeves,
close-toed shoes (avoid sandals), and long pants tucked into your socks.  Insect repellents that contain DEET are also effective.  If you or your pet has been walking through tall grass or forested areas, be sure to do a thorough check for ticks.  If a tick is found, use a pair of tweezers to pinch the tick as close to the tick’s head and mouthparts as possible and pull out slowly.  Do NOT remove it by burning, smothering, applying alcohol, or squeezing the body.  Any of these methods could make it release potentially infected fluids into your body, increasing your chance of infection.  Similarly, pulling the tick out too quickly may result in leaving the mouthparts imbedded in the skin, possibly leading to infection.
 
 
 
If you have questions or would like to learn more about ticks, contact:
The Helen Schuler Nature Centre at 403 320 3064 or email hsnc@lethbridge.ca.