Small Wild Animals: Coexistence with Humans

Small Wild Animals: Coexistence with Humans

Here we find the ideal environment for a skunk or a raccoon, the trapper told us when we arrived. we have water [une rivière], we probably have neighbors who feed birds. We have gardens, compost too. These beasts will take advantage of it, they feed on it!

Like many city and suburban residents who must live with small wild animals, Élise Bois first thought of the exterminator when she noticed a family of skunks nested under her shed.

“I called an extermination company but said to myself: They are not coming to destroy the animals. »

— A quote from Élise Bois, citizen of Lévis

Élise Bois in a garden.

Élise Bois realized that her backyard was an ideal living environment for the small wildlife around.

Photo: Radio Canada

The extermination company referred the citizen to the local association of professional trappers. Thanks to well-baited cages, Langis Tremblay and fellow trapper Jean-Marc Couture were able to quickly capture the unwanted little ones before relocating them further afield to a more natural and less populated environment.

According to the trappers, such intrusions could easily have been avoided with a few preventive measures. At some point it’s all about securing access, whether it’s the shed, the attic or the air ducts of your home, recalls Jean-Marc Couture, trapper for almost 40 years.

Trappers… in town!

On the same day, our two trappers had to respond to another citizen who had requested their services to expel a family of raccoons that had entered the attic of their home in the Old Lévis sector.

Our work has completely changed, says Langis Tremblay. It has become a work of human relations. Before a catch can be started, citizens must be informed and educated about living with small wild animals.

Portrait of Langis Tremblay.

Langis Tremblay has been catching skinners for 38 years. He must now intervene with the citizens to help them live better with small animals.

Photo: Radio Canada

“For four or five years, requests for intervention have exploded, and there are no more traps (1) like there used to be in nature. Today, for an animal to harm a citizen, it is in the city or in the suburbs. »

— A quote from Langis Tremblay, Capitale-Nationale Regional Association of Trappers

Not so long ago, these trappers were mostly on duty during the statutory fur trapping season; in late autumn and winter in a well-structured framework to encourage catches, particularly for the fur market.

The drop in fur prices has led to a gradual dislike of traditional trapping, which has helped increase populations of small fur-bearers in our cities and suburbs. Species such as skunks, raccoons, and squirrels are particularly found in urban and suburban environments.

A raccoon walks through a tray of food.

Populations of small fur-bearing animals such as raccoons have increased in urban areas in recent years.

Photo: Radio Canada

With raccoons, for example, there are between 60 and 100 per km2(2), depending on the sector. In Mount Royal Park, for example, 75 raccoons per km2 have already been counted, while a normal density is closer to one to two raccoons per km2.

“The more we have green urban environments, the more we create these habitats. As a bonus, we then removed all predators! »

— A quote from Fanie Pelletier, Biologist, Université de Sherbrooke

Animal ecologist Fanie Pelletier is categorical: We have created a new ecosystem for small animals. An environment that favors their survival but also their reproduction.

Portrait of Fanie Pelletier.

According to biologist Fanie Pelletier, humans have created real habitat for small wild animals in urban areas.

Photo: Radio Canada

There are indications in the literature, explains the biologist. In urban areas, these small wild animals produce more babies. They mature faster and become more adept at occupying these environments. So yes, the densities are increasing in some places.

“We do see coyotes sometimes, depending on the sector, but that’s clearly not a source of high mortality for small wildlife like skunks or raccoons. »

— A quote from Fanie Pelletier, Biologist, Université de Sherbrooke

It was to be expected that this abundance of small wild animals in inhabited areas would cause problems in coexistence. Voluntarily or not, citizens will take in or feed these animals, notes trapper Langis Tremblay.

We install a bird feeder, we plant fruit trees. Others have inadequate facilities, free access to improvised dens, and there are also poorly secured household waste bins.

“Some people will say, ‘Well, get rid of it! It’s not enough to get rid of it, you also have to think of the animal! »

— A quote from Jean-Marc Couture, professional trapper

The wild West

If you’re misinformed, there are many possibilities, says Langis Tremblay. We buy a trap at the hardware store, we call an exterminator or a generous neighbor who says they have the solution…

According to the Wildlife Conservation and Wildlife Development Act, a person may not kill or capture an animal that is attacking them or causing damage to their property if they can frighten it or prevent it from causing harm.

In other words, it can be captured, moved, or shot down, but as a very last resort. And the last resort is often a matter of interpretation, says Langis Tremblay.

Several animals are therefore arbitrarily eliminated, the trapper explains, using methods that sometimes do not correspond to professional ethics in terms of good animal care.

Some communities, like the city of Lévis, now use wildlife sanctuaries. We have four biologists here. We welcome wildlife, injured or orphaned, explains Jennifer Tremblay, a wildlife management technician who has run a small wildlife sanctuary for 10 years.

Portrait of Jennifer Tremblay.

Jennifer Tremblay is concerned about the fate of a growing number of small wildlife in urban areas.

Photo: Radio Canada

Some were hit by cars, others trapped, perhaps because the mother was relocated, then the babies were found orphaned.

“There are also people who buy all kinds of traps or get the neighbor’s trap or an old trap from the basement. »

— A quote from Jennifer Tremblay, owner of SOS Miss Dolittle

Jennifer Tremblay in front of a table with traps.

Jennifer Tremblay reveals the traps some of her boarders were found in.

Photo: Radio Canada

In many situations, Jennifer Tremblay regrets, people are afraid and will not tolerate the presence of a wild animal. It’s not malice, it’s really a lack of knowledge!

Trappers require appropriate training

The Federation of Trappers Managers of Quebec is also in discussions with the Department for Wildlife (MELCCFP) to provide specialized training for trappers who work directly with citizens in urban areas.

“It’s the qualification that’s the boo in it. If we want these animals to be treated more ethically, special training is required. »

— A quote from Langis Tremblay, professional trapper

For the usual trapping of fur animals, we have to undergo training in addition to rules and a strict code of ethics, explains trapper Langis Tremblay.

This framework is completely absent when trappers operate in urban areas and outside of the official trapping season. Your association therefore calls for compulsory training for everyone who carries out a pest control activity in an urban environment.

The ministry responsible for wild animals (MELCCFP) refers the affected citizens to the associations of professional trappers and reminds them of the basic measures for a better coexistence with these small wild animals.

“We took all their rooms, but they’re still there. When it comes to wildlife, we still have a lot to do! »

— A quote from Jennifer Tremblay, Wildlife Management Technician

The report by Claude Labbé and Michel Sylvestre will be broadcast this Saturday at 5pm and Sunday at 12.30pm on ICI TÉLÉ’s La Semaine verte program. At ICI RDI it is Sunday at 8 p.m.

  • Trap, trap or trap? Trapdoor is an Old French word. The term “trapping” was used to refer to the activity of capturing animals for their pelts. The English would have picked it up with “to trap” and then “trapping”, from which the Quebec term “trappage” would be derived. Trapping or trapping would be more associated with the use of bows, rifles, rifles and slings in catching skinners, while trapping is… just about traps. Today we mainly use the term “trapping”, this activity that consists in capturing wild animals in their natural habitat with specially designed traps. – Sources: Ministry of Wildlife (New Window) (MELCCFP) and Office québécois de la langue française (New Window).

  • Source: MELCCFP, November 17, 2022