Webinar presenter Lynsey White answered a number of your questions after her presentation, How Shelters Can Make Policies More Humane for Wildlife. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: In regard to not euthanizing bats when possible exposure may have occurred, how is that handled with the State Board of Animal Health or the Board of Human Health? We’re required to contain euthanized and send the bat for testing if found in a room of humans that were sleeping.
Lynsey White: That’s a tricky one. We recognize, of course, that you have to abide by the health regulations in your state. However, we recommend against those policies that require euthanasia when exposure cannot be ruled out. So of course, If there has been a bat in a room where someone has been sleeping, then there could have been exposure. We understand that even though in a lot of those cases there probably wasn’t exposure, but that there could have been. In those cases, we are not going to argue with that policy because of course human safety is the most important issue here. We’re talking more about an agency that, for instance, has a policy where even if they just see a bat outside in a tree, they have to euthanize it. That’s the kind of thing that we really want to move away from. But we also have some partners that have worked with their local health agencies that have really created some great partnerships. The Animal welfare League of Arlington has done a great job with that. They’d be happy to share their experiences there. If you would like to we can get you in touch with them.
Audience Question: How do you recommend that we educate our communities about living in consort or living in harmony with the wildlife in our area? Should we be doing community events, social media, maybe using something like Nextdoor? What do you recommend and what are you seeing other agencies do out there to help educate the population?
Lynsey White: All of those and more! Educating the public is a big job. People get information in different ways. Social media is great for reaching a lot of people but of course, not everyone uses that. Nextdoor is an emerging resource that a lot of people use and it’s actually a great way to connect to people. Also having actual in-person community events where you are speaking about an issue is really great. A lot of people really enjoy that. Also even using handout materials. If you can get out a flyer to people in a water bill or (maybe if you know that there’s a hotspot area of conflicts) you can even deliver them door to door. That’s a great way. This takes a lot of manpower but also a lot of agencies that I work with use volunteers for this. If there’s a park, for example, where people see wildlife and there’s a lot of issues, having volunteers just go out and talk to people is really effective. I guess my answer is the more ways, the better!
Audience Question: What’s the difference between a hard release and a soft release? Can you clarify that?
Lynsey White: A hard release is having an animal in a cage inside the facility and then just simply releasing them into an open area, or “the wild.” A soft release would be putting them in their habitat where they have all the natural resources but they are still being cared for and confined in some way so that predators can’t get to them.
Audience Question: We should not be trapping. Can you clarify that statement again?
Lynsey White: Yes, I say that wildlife should never be trapped, but there are some instances where that may be necessary. An example of this may be a wild animal that has entered the living space of a home and will not exit on his or her own. Whenever trapping is necessary, we recommend that humane methods of trapping are used and that the animal is released on site, rather than relocated. But whenever possible, we recommend the use of one-way doors and the other problem-solving techniques discussed in this webinar and in our manual for solving conflicts with wildlife, rather than trapping.
Audience Question: How do we know for sure that the companies are truly doing humane trapping techniques? How should we monitor this? Does the HSUS have a testing or certification process? What do you recommend?
Lynsey White: I wish that we had that. We would love to have a certification process. But we don’t. Again, there’s no way to know for sure, so we recommend getting as much information as you can. Talk to customers (if you do refer the public to them) and follow up with them, to see what actually happened. Do a ride along if you can. But again, in terms of trapping, we don’t want these companies to be trapping. We want them to be using a one-way door and a reunion box to remove animals from the home whenever necessary. They shouldn’t be using a trap at all.
Audience Question: You talked about how many concerns can be addressed by our call-takers and our dispatchers. How do you recommend we train them to take those calls?
Lynsey White: We actually have a three-part webinar training where we go through all that. This is available online for you and your staff to view. In some cases, we can come and do the training in person, although staff time and resources are limited right now. Or we can potentially do a live-webinar. Additionally, we have the manual, which is made as a resource for call-takers to have at their desk. The call-takers can reference the chapters, on squirrels, for example, then go to the conflict that the person has and literally it’s written out as a script so they can tell the person what to do.
Audience Question: We were talking about this before the show but so many of us were told by our parents that if we handled the babies or the young that the mama animal would abandon the young. How is this not true?
Lynsey White: We were just talking about this, and this myth has been so detrimental to wildlife. I’m sure why that started, but it is just simply not true for the vast majority of animals. Because wildlife animals are very good mothers. They have a very strong maternal instinct. They’re not simply going to abandon their young because of human scent. So of course while we don’t recommend unnecessary handling of baby wildlife, it’s not going to make their mothers abandon them. If it’s all possible to use gloves if you’re handling a baby rabbit or a bird, that’s great! But no, we do not find that the mothers will abandon their young. And again I didn’t have a lot of time to go into this right now, but we have webinars about this. We have specific instructions on what to do if you find a baby rabbit,- how do we reunite the rabbit? How do we reunite a baby bird? We’ve got specific instructions on how to do that for each species.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of How Shelters Can Make Policies More Humane for Wildlife.