Top Wildlife Myths: How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 13, 2008 | Go to article overview

Top Wildlife Myths: How Well Do You Know Your Neighbors?


With kids spending more time outside, The Humane Society of the United States wants to set the record straight about the most common wildlife myths.

"These popular myths have been around forever, passed on from generation to generation," said Laura Simon, field director of urban wildlife for The HSUS. "We are hoping that education will result in a better coexistence between humans and wildlife."

Myth No. 1: Feeding bread to geese and ducks is OK.

Fact: Bread is bad for all birds because it offers little nutritional value. Severe health problems, including a debilitating condition called "Angel Wing" can be caused by bread diets. Feeding can also lead to dependency in ducklings and goslings who fail to learn how to find native foods on their own. Some birds can even become aggressive about being fed leading to a tragic outcome if humans decide to remove them.

Myth No. 2: If you find a fawn alone, she has been orphaned.

Fact: It is actually very common to see fawns alone because the mother will "park" her babies somewhere and only visit two to three times a day. This helps avoid attracting predators. Until the fawn is four weeks old, you will rarely see her with mother. Instead, she relies on camouflage and lying still for protection during this vulnerable period.

Myth No. 3: If you touch a baby bird, the parents will abandon him.

Fact: Birds have a limited sense of smell, but are strongly bonded to their chicks. Parents will not abandon chicks handled by humans.

The best thing humans can do if a baby bird falls from its nest, and is not well feathered and clearly learning how to fly, is to put him back in it. Watch carefully: The parents will return to feed him.

Myth No. 4: If you see a raccoon during the day, he must be rabid.

Fact: Raccoons are opportunistic and will appear whenever food is around. Although normally nocturnal, it is not uncommon to see them during the day when pet food is outside, especially in spring and summer when mom raccoons need more energy to nurse their cubs. However, if the animal is acting disoriented or sick, such as circling, staggering or screeching in addition to being seen by day contact a local animal control officer.

Myth No. 5: If you get close to a skunk, youll get sprayed.

Fact: It is actually pretty difficult for a person to get sprayed by a skunk. …

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