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January 2012 Month in Review

Another month under our belts here at the Wildlife Hotline and it’s been a tough one.  We haven’t had much of a winter here in the Midwest, and that has brought about some out of the ordinary issues with wildlife.  January and February is mating season for a lot of our native wildlife species, and they seem to be following the normal calendar in their behaviors.  However, the human population is behaving differently due to the mild weather.  For example, coyotes are normally mating in January and February, but that usually goes unnoticed by residents.  The spike in activity may generate a few more calls on coyotes in a normal year, but with weather being so nice, people are outside, walking dogs, going to the park, BBQ’ing in January, and we SEE the coyotes more than we normally would.  The nicer weather has definitely impacted our call volume this month.  Here is a sampling of our calls from January:

Adult Coyote Crossing Road

  • Coyotes calls are still topping the list at the hotline.  Many of our calls this month were reports of coyotes ‘playing’ in resident’s back yards, neighborhoods and parks.  It is mating season for these animals and chances are the coyotes and foxes that you see and hear are not ‘playing’.  They’re mating, or preparing to mate.  The yips, calls, howls, and chatter that we hear at night are resident coyotes and foxes singing the songs of love.  Before month’s end these animals will go back to being the solitary, quiet, shy species that they normally are.
  • Distemper raccoons are still keeping us quite busy as well.  In a normal winter raccoons with distemper may get sick and succumb to the disease during a cold winter night.  This year, the nights haven’t quite been cold enough to facilitate that normal process, which results in sick raccoons that walk up to resident’s home, yards, etc.  Sadly, these calls have not gone down in number from last month, with a total of 14 distemper raccoon cases called in to the Wildlife Hotline in January alone.

Injured Coyote from Foristell, MO

  • We also had our share of mating season casualties in January.  A male raccoon in Ballwin with severe injuries probably due to a male vs male fight over mating was euthanized due to his extensive injuries.  We also had a beautiful female coyote that was struck by a car in Foristell, probably also trying to outrun a suitor.  She had to be euthanized due to her extensive injuries as well.
  • A brown bat in the City of St. Louis was called in to the hotline in early January when it was found in a resident’s back yard, on the ground, and unable to fly.  Bats should be hibernating in January but with the weather being so nice, he may have come out for a mid-winter snack.  He had multiple tears in his wing membrane and was cared for by the Wildlife Rescue Center in Ballwin, MO.
  • We had multiple calls last month from residents trying to find a place to turn after hiring pest control companies and having problems.  One resident had hired two different pest control companies over the course of three years, in attempts to evict and keep out a raccoon that wanted to den in her attic each winter.  The resident had spent nearly $1000 a year on pest control services, yet every year the raccoons would still invade her attic, just like the year before.  During one conversation our wildlife specialists determine multiple problems on her property, a tree that reached right to the roof that needed trimmed back, a neighbor feeding stray cats, a compost heap in the yard providing food and warmth, and several areas of repair that provided a perfect entry point for the raccoons.  We had a very similar case like this with squirrels in a resident’s attic, and that resident had hired a pest control company that had SO FAR removed almost 20 squirrels via traps that they set on the roof (outside!).  The pest control bill had exceeded a monthly house payment because of course they were catching tons of squirrels.  When you set a trap outdoors, you’re bound to catch something!  These companies like to charge $50-$100 PER ANIMAL so they are in the business of catching as many animals as possible.  We have formed a partnership with Handyman Matters in the St. Louis area as an alternative to these pest control companies.  Animals do not have to be ‘caught’ or ‘killed’ or ‘relocated’ when you want them out of your home.  If you remove the attractant to the animal, repair the places where the animal is getting in and out, you remove the problem.  Handyman Matters can repair the entries that an animal is using, plus install a one-way door so the animal can leave, but not get back in – no trapping necessary.  Residents can also do this kind of work themselves, depending on how ‘handy’ one is around the house.  We are always happy to discuss pest control situations like these with residents.  All of our specialists would love to see a day when animal traps are only used by rehab professionals when trying to HELP an animal, not remove or relocate it.

Believe it or not that’s about it for January!  It’s been fairly slow still.  Otherwise the Wildlife Hotline is in the middle of their 501(c)3 application with the IRS as well as everyone getting ready for baby season.  The babies will be here before we know it!!!


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