One of the things that we must all remember is that before humans established any semblance of civilization, animals make up a significant chunk of the ecosystem. Humans displaced animals from their natural habitat and animals scurried into areas with less human settlement. But as more and more developments come along, the animals have no other choice but to live alongside humans, giving rise to what is now referred to as urban wildlife.
Today’s instructor, John Griffin will discuss one specific segment of urban wildlife, the mesopredators. John has more than two decades’ worth of experience working with animals. He is the Senior Director of Urban Wildlife Programs for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), where he leads field service and policy programs resolving conflicts between humans and wildlife.
John provides an overview of what mesopredators are, their prevalence and role in the urban ecosystem, and a comprehensive discussion on four of the most common mesopredators humans may encounter:
- Their sheltering and denning characteristics and the home ranges in which they move around from one den and food source to another.
- Recognizing the presence of raccoons and the role that human attractants play in this.
- Understanding their breeding behaviors and how these can impact their presence within your area.
- The prevalence of raccoons in the city and their abilities that enable them to establish dens in both elevated and ground level structures.
- Red foxes
- Characteristics of red foxes – including distinguishing physical attributes, activities, skills, feeding habits, and adaptability.
- Red foxes as territorial creatures that defend their home range and establish dens.
- Their typical denning spots in both natural and man-made structures which serve its purpose particularly during breeding season and winter.
- A glimpse into the breeding, rearing, and weaning process of fox kits as well as the rare cases of orphans.
- How red foxes become habituated to communities and human interaction.
- Their natural nomadic and solitary tendencies and how this impacts their denning sites.
- Their unique qualities and defense mechanisms to evade predators and humans.
- Their breeding period, litter size, and distinct weaning process.
- Skunks’ distinct defense mechanism due to terrible eyesight – its accuracy and effective range, warning behaviors, and when they resort to it.
- Their nomadic nature, their preferred dens and purpose for denning.
- Their unique delayed implantation capability, sensing skunk breeding season in the air, the young’s natural ability to spray, and the process of weaning.
Numerous videos and images were shown throughout the webinar exhibiting these mesopredators’ behavior, activities, most common human concerns, and tips on how to address conflicts through humane trapping, hazing, and reuniting.
Points tackled during the Q&A were about:
- What classifies as charismatic species.
- The matrices shown throughout the presentation.
- Sarcoptic mange in red foxes.
- Glue traps as an inhumane method.
Resources and Handouts
- “The webinar was very interesting and provided some great information on how to humanely remove animals or to know that they will naturally move on eventually. I vey much enjoyed this one.” — Alexis
- “Lots of new facts about mesopredators that I was unaware of, great handout, and great material presented throughout webinar.” — Brendan
- “The explanation of how beneficial it is to have these animals in your back yard for real pest control. Most of all leave them be and they will move on to another location. Thank you.” — Dawn
- “I learned some very valuable tips for dealing with wildlife and it gave me answers to commonly asked questions. I gained practical knowledge and I’m glad I participated.” — Lynn