By Medicine Hat News on February 11, 2019.
Medicine Hat provides habitat to many wildlife species who utilize urban landscapes. As we co-habit, it is important to remain educated on how human activities impact wildlife. As there are many species in our region, this is part one of a series on urban wildlife.
Abundant in Medicine Hat, deer are peaceful creatures driven to urban areas in search of food and shelter.
While rarely approaching humans, it is not unusual to spot one along the road who has met an unfortunate fate. It is best to maintain distance between us and deer?do not feed them, as this encourages the animals to travel further into the city, exposing them to dangers and limiting their independence.
Moose and elk are less common in the city, however their numbers may increase with changing food and habitat availability. Elk behave similarly to deer, however moose are known to be more aggressive?to keep yourself and the animal safe, it is best to change paths if one is encountered.
Coyotes are ubiquitous in our region, and help control rodent and small mammal populations. While generally avoiding humans, potentially aggressive encounters are possible. To prevent coyote activity near your property, properly store garbage and limit domestic animal outdoor access. If encountered, make yourself appear large and while making loud noises to alarm the animal, and back away slowly. Encounters are rare, and are even more rarely dangerous, however keeping distance between yourself and the animal will mitigate possible hazards.
Integral components of our ecosystems, beavers help maintain healthy riparian areas. While their eating habits can sometimes be destructive to tree communities, non-invasive techniques?like tree-wrapping?are implemented by City staff and volunteers to minimize damage to, and human impact on beavers. Beavers are rarely aggressive, but may become so if they feel threatened. Maintaining distance is the best way to minimize your impact on, and help sustain beaver populations.
Injured or distressed wildlife
Report wildlife issues to Alberta Fish and Wildlife (403-529-3680), and respect space between you and the animal, even if it requires help. Many wildlife species and their habitat are protected by law, so the safest way to enjoy and help wildlife is from a distance. Coexistence and respect are integral to maintaining natural areas within urban regions.
The second part of this column will run in March.
(Keziah Lesko-Gosselin works with the City’s Parks and Recreation department, leading research initiatives and providing technical support for parks projects and operations.)
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