Archives > June 2016

Happy (almost) Canada Day, Eh!

With Canada day coming up on Friday, we thought we’d take some time to talk about Canada’s national animal, the North American Beaver!

The North American Beaver has been a symbol of Canada since the 17th century, and became Canada’s national animal on March 24th, 1975. At AIWC, we often have beavers in our care, making up part of the over 1,600 wild animals we treat each year. Currently, we have a North American Beaver kit in our care.  He is an orphan and was found at a golf course with a tail laceration and we are hoping he makes a speedy recovery.

Beavers are amazing swimmers and use their large, rear webbed feet and their paddle-shaped tails to steer and glide through the water. They have valves in their nose and ears that close to keep the water out. Beavers also have a clear layer that acts like goggles to cover their eyes when they are swimming to protect them from things floating in the water.

Beavers are among the largest in the rodent family, weighing up to twenty seven kilograms! They eat twigs, bark, leaves, roots and aquatic plants. Gnawing and felling trees with their large teeth and powerful jaws gives beavers the supplies they need to build dams and lodges to live in. Access to their homes can only be reached through underwater entrances, providing them with better protection from predators that can’t swim.

Did you know that beavers can remain underwater for up to fifteen minutes before coming up for air? This is especially helpful when beavers are building their dams, and trying to place sticks underwater!

Beavers are also good house guests. Their dams usually contain two dens, one for drying off after entering the dam from underwater, and a second, dryer den where the family will live and socialize. Beavers have also been known to share their lodges with families of muskrats!

Have a safe and fun Canada Day with friends and family!

How Can You Help?

  • Read our PSAs about what to do if you come across wildlife and spread the word.
  • Donate to AIWC – with the demand for our services increasing, the cost to operate also increases.
  • Donate an item(s) from our wish list.
  • Become a member.
  • Adopt an animal.

It all comes down to this:

“We don’t own the earth. We are the Earth’s caretakers. We take care of it and all the things on it. And when we’re done with it, it should be left better than we found it.”   – Katherine Hannigan, author.

Living Alongside our Wild Neighbour

At AIWC, we are seeing a large increase in the number of baby skunks (kits) being admitted to our centre, and the numbers are worrisome. The cause for the increase? The main reason is that the mothers are being trapped by property owners and removed from the area. Not only is this terrifying for her, but as a result her babies become orphaned. Currently we have 30 skunk kits in care, the majority of them admitted after their mother was trapped.

Skunk kits rely on their mother for food and care for the first few months of their life. Since skunks are mainly nocturnal, if you see skunk kits out during the day without their mother nearby, it’s a good indication something is wrong. Please monitor them and call our Wildlife Hotline 403-946-2361 for advice.

There is no reason to worry if there are skunks living in your area or on your property, as they generally keep to themselves.  Many people are completely unaware that they have skunks in their area. If you do get too close to a skunk they will give you warning signs before resorting to spraying:

  • Stamping their feet
  • Hissing
  • Raising their tail
  • Charging toward you

Since it can take up to ten days for skunks to replenish their scent, they will only spray as a last resort.

Removing skunks from their territory will only make room for more skunks to move in.  Be proactive if you would rather not share your space!  Here are a few simple tips to consider to help prevent skunks from moving onto your property:

  • Keep all dog and cat food, birdseed etc. indoors – especially at night.
  • Use heavy plastic or metal garbage/recycle bins with securely fastened lids to prevent odors from escaping.
  • Keep BBQ grills clean and/ or stored inside.
  • Keep the area well lit.  Motion detectors work best.

Learning how to cohabitate peacefully with local skunks can be accomplished!  For more information on how to get along with skunks give us a call. Don’t forget to pass this information along to your friends and neighbours.

Want to learn more about skunks? Read more on our website here.

It all comes down to this:

“We don’t own the earth. We are the earth’s caretakers. We take care of it and all the things on it. And when we’re done with it, it should be left better than we found it.” ― Katherine Hannigan, author.

Patient numbers soar at AIWC!

As awareness about our organization grows and human-wildlife conflict unfortunately continues to rise, we expect an increase in patients each year. We didn’t expect the increase we are seeing this year though; already in 2016 we have admitted over 700 wild animals. This is an increase of nearly 70% compared to the same time last year.

There are several reasons we attribute to the increase in patient numbers, one being that there is more awareness about our organization. Secondly, the warmer weather has led to wild animals breeding earlier than normal. We admitted our first great horned owl baby (owlet) a month earlier than normal this year.

At AIWC, we experience extreme peak seasons of animal intake and care, despite being open year-round. May through August are our busiest months for animal care, when on any given day we can have 200-300 animals in care. In comparison, from November to February we typically have 20-30 animals in care.

95% of animals are injured or orphaned due to human activities. The most common causes of injury are window strikes, vehicle collision, hitting power lines, barbed wire, fishing line entanglement or ingestion, domestic cat and dog attacks, and exposure to toxins. Often wildlife is orphaned by rescuing of babies who should have been left where they were.

How Can You Help?

It all comes down to this:

“We don’t own the earth. We are the earth’s caretakers. We take care of it and all the things on it. And when we’re done with it, it should be left better than we found it.” ― Katherine Hannigan, author.


AIWC Caring for an Influx of Early Birds

Baby birds require almost constant care, and the number of birds admitted to AIWC has doubled since this time last year! As a result, staff and volunteers are busier than ever, putting in extra hours to take care for the centre’s avian patients.

Volunteers recently got a lesson in caring for orphaned and injured birds when a workshop was held at AIWC. At the workshop, they learned about caring for baby birds, from species identification to mixing specialized formula to feed them – baby birds start out needing to be fed every 15 minutes!

Since the birds are not able to take care of themselves, volunteers also learned to build them artificial nests. Branches and towels are used for larger birds like raptors, while smaller birds can be housed in cozy nests of yarn knitted by AIWC supporters.

The warm winter and early spring has resulted in an increase in all types of wildlife arriving at the centre, and at earlier arrival times. The first bird fledglings arrived almost a month early in 2016 at the end of April. This year, the first great horned owl nestling was admitted on March 16th , while in 2014, the first great horned owl baby wasn’t admitted until April 20th. (To read more: )

Volunteer rescue drivers have also been working around the clock rescuing waterfowl such as Canadian geese, often found stranded at the top of high-rise buildings.

The warmer temperatures mean that birds who have migrated back to the province are able to mate and nest earlier than normal. More birds also chose to over-winter here this year instead of migrating. In addition, more food resources in the environment mean parents are able feed and care for larger numbers of young.

With more people outside enjoying the warm weather, however, it’s important to remember that most of the wildlife into the centre is not, in fact, orphaned. Often would-be rescuers separate animals from their mothers, who may just be off gathering food. That’s why if you see a baby bird on its own but otherwise safe and healthy, you should leave it where it is and call AIWC (403-946-2361) before intervening.

The influx of new patients means greater costs at the centre. Raptors, a family of birds that includes owls and hawks, can cost up to $10 per day per baby just to feed. You can support the work of the centre by making a donation, and additional volunteers are always appreciated.

The earlier admissions and numbers of patients seen by AIWC is consistent with long-term data from around Canada, showing earlier arrival dates for migrating birds correlating with warming trends in the earths climate. “A study of 63 years of data for 96 species of bird migrants in Canada showed that 27 species have altered their arrival dates significantly, with most arriving earlier, in conjunction with warming spring temperatures,” says Nature Canada. In addition, “one large-scale study showed that birds are laying eggs at an average rate of 6.6 days earlier per decade.”

By: J. Edwards, Volunteer Writer