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NIWRA: How you can help wildlife in 2024

Wildlife recovery association offers key tips for Island residents
A black bear eats paper torn out of a residential garbage bag in summertime. (Submitted/

By Moira Rosser-Peterson

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

A great way to start the new year is to be conscious of the ways we can help wildlife. Here are some tips on how to help bears, birds, and our other native wildlife.

• Most human conflicts with black bears are due to garbage and other human-driven attractants. Bears can receive as many calories from garbage in 10 minutes as from foraging in the forest all day.

Help protect bears by only putting your garbage out in the morning of pickup, not the night before. Take down bird feeders during the summer; feed pets indoors; maintain your backyard compost properly, if you have one; clean your barbeque by burning off the grill and cleaning out the grease trap and store it covered and in a locked shed.

• Help protect our native birds by keeping pet cats inside.

On average, cats kill more than 100 million birds each year in Canada. If a bird isn’t killed outright in an attack, bacteria found in the saliva and mouth of a cat can cause swift and fatal infection.

If you feel it’s cruel to keep your pet inside, have someone handy build an outdoor enclosure fit for a feline king or queen.

• Keeping bird feeders and bird baths clean is key to preventing and spreading diseases among our feathered friends.

RELATED: VIDEO: Island rehabilitation centre gives spring tips on helping injured wildlife

At least once a month, or more frequently in humid hot weather, take down your bird feeders and soak them in a 10 per cent bleach solution. Rinse thoroughly and dry the feeders before refilling them.

Discard old seeds and remove all seeds from the ground. Bird baths should also be cleaned as frequently as possible, or they can cause more harm than good.

• Sadly, window strikes happen quite frequently for our native birds. Birds see the window reflection as a continuation of their environment.

Lessen the chance of window strikes by applying images of hawks to the window, hang streamers, or cover the whole window. Bird proofing must be applied on the outside of the window. Window decals with UV reflecting properties can be helpful.

• Keep our roadways safe for wildlife.

Don’t throw litter out of your car window while out and about. Take a container with you for your scraps and dispose of them later.

By disposing of waste and compost properly, you can help prevent injury to wild animals.

Thank you!

NIWRA, a non-profit organization, is situated in Errington, B.C. We are open to the public daily for viewing of non-releasable animals. Please visit our website at to learn more about our programs, read stories about our animals, and learn how you can help care for wildlife.

About the Author: Parksville Qualicum Beach News Staff

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