Douala the lioness now lives at our sanctuary in Texas, Black Beauty Ranch, after being rescued from a roadside zoo in Canada. Meredith Lee/The HSUS
The scorching days of summer, when temperatures soar and people head outdoors, are almost here. It is especially important to keep animals in mind during this active season, not only the companions of our homes, but also the wild animals we may encounter while hiking in a national park or visiting a child-friendly attraction. children. With a little planning, you can ensure that your pets are protected pets, that your outdoor activities don’t adversely affect habitats, and that your vacation fund doesn’t inadvertently sustain operating wildlife attractions.
Here are some tips to help you and our fellows have a safe summer:
Help wild animals by keeping your distance
The opportunity to see wildlife first-hand draws millions of people into the wild each year. But jaw-dropping animal sightings can quickly turn dangerous when people get too close. Last month, a woman was gored by a bison in Yellowstone National Park after coming within 10 feet of the animal.
Human presence also harms wild animals; overcrowding stresses animals and inhibits their ability to engage in natural behaviors such as foraging and rearing their young. Continued exposure to humans, especially humans who feed them or leave trash easily accessible, can cause wild animals to become conditioned to food and/or habituated to us. These animals then learn to approach people, which can lead to human-wildlife conflict. (Just recently we told you about Chip, a horse that came to our Black Beauty Ranch Animal Sanctuary from Assateague Island and had been fed so many times by tourists that he associated humans with food. and became aggressive.) When park managers are unable to deter animals that have become a threat to public safety because people have fed them, they may end up being forced to kill the animals.
When visiting animals in the wild, remember to stay at least 75 feet (about the length of two school buses) from most wildlife, such as moose, bighorn sheep, and deer mule, and at least 300 feet (about the length of a football field) from bears and wolves.
You can still do some good for wild animals while keeping your distance. If you water for wildlife or have a swimming pool in your backyard (even one as small as a kiddie pool), make sure you have a ramp for small animals and birds to wade through. too deep have a way out. . Otherwise, our wild neighbours, from field mice to songbirds, risk drowning, even if the water has been turned off to help them by giving them something to drink or a way to cool off.
Avoid exploitative attractions
When you’re traveling or looking for fun things to do in your area, you can find wildlife attractions like roadside zoos, elephant rides, and swim-with-dolphins tours. At first glance, these attractions may seem like a great opportunity to connect with wild animals and contribute to conservation efforts. But behind the facade, these attractions exploit wild animals for profit, often keeping them in cruel conditions and forcing them to interact with person after person for photo ops.
When trying to tell a human attraction from a cruel attraction, a simple rule is to avoid any place that allows visitors to interact directly with wild animals. For a guilt-free excursion, visit wildlife sanctuaries, rescue centers and rehabilitation centers accredited by the World Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. Accredited facilities do not trade animals or breed animals for profit and generally do not allow visitors to interact directly with wild animals.
Keep pets away from heat
Watch out for the summer heat. Not only can it have serious health effects on humans, but the sun can also harm pets. Know the signs of heat stroke in your pet: Cats and dogs may pant heavily and drool excessively, be lethargic and have abnormally colored gums. Pet owners should also watch out for sunburn and skin cancer. Pets with white fur and fine coats are particularly vulnerable. And if you want to let your dog cool off by dipping in a pond, be sure to avoid water that appears to have mud, foam or scum on the surface, as this can be a sign of a toxic algae bloom, which can be toxic to dogs.
Even on the cooler days, pets can still be affected. On an 85°F day, the temperature can rise to 102°F inside a car with the windows slightly open in 10 minutes. Don’t leave your pets alone in a car, even for a short time, and learn the steps to take if you encounter a pet left in a hot car.
The pavement can also become hotter than the air temperature and injure your pet’s paw pads. Before walking your dog on the road or sidewalk, put your hand on the ground for five seconds. If your hand hurts during this time, it’s dangerous for your pet.
Help animals scared by fireworks
Summer parties are often synonymous with fireworks. While these displays can be fun for onlookers, they are scary for pets and wildlife. Preparation is key to minimizing your companion’s distress. If you know your pet is sensitive to fireworks, leave them indoors with a radio or television on to drown out loud sounds. You can also talk to your veterinarian about medications that can help relieve your pet’s anxiety.
Also keep an eye out for disoriented wildlife during or shortly after a fireworks display. Loud noises and flashing colors can cause animals to flee their surroundings, where they can end up in dangerous places like on the road. Not all fireworks are accompanied by a loud bang. Some traditional fireworks emit a quieter hiss that is less likely to panic animals. You can ask your city’s fireworks organizers to select the quietest types of fireworks.
You can further protect wildlife by foregoing fireworks at a backyard party; laser shows can evoke a similar sense of awe as fireworks, without harming our wild neighbors.
It’s so rewarding to share a respect for animals and the natural world with our children, extended family and friends, furry or human. From bird watching to hiking and camping to having a picnic outside, there are so many ways to celebrate summer. (I personally enjoy my walks in warm weather with my dog Lilly, who takes immense pleasure in watching the local squirrels).
It’s encouraging to know that even small actions can help make the world we share with animals safer. As wildlife habitats diminish, keeping animals in mind in every season becomes an even more important part of being a compassionate and humane citizen. I am grateful to everyone who is doing their part and raising animal awareness among their friends and families.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter@HSUSKittyBlock.
Pets, Wildlife/Marine Mammals