BY SHEYENNE WALES
New York State has an abundance of natural beauty that makes it one of the most visited places in the nation.
The capital region alone offers waterfalls, hiking trails, historical sites and other seasonal attractions. But none is as beautiful – and crucial – as our native wildlife.
While we’re used to seeing smaller wildlife and predators in our backyards – songbirds, rabbits and woodchucks, for example – there seems to be a recent increase in sightings of larger and rarer wildlife. A moose was sighted in Schenectady and Niskayuna in early May before being relocated to the Adirondacks. Last year a black bear was spotted roaming around Schenectady.
Pet owners play a crucial role in protecting wildlife. As animal lovers, our compassion should also extend to wild and exotic animals that we don’t often encounter. Billions of wild birds and mammals have been documented to become prey to domestic cats in the United States each year. Cat owners can counteract this by keeping their cats indoors or by building outdoor enclosures popularly called “Catios.”
Dogs can also be experts at locating baby animals that are separated from their parents. Walking your dog on a leash during known breeding seasons can prevent the potentially fatal outcome of finding unprotected juveniles.
Incorporating wildlife advocacy into your pet-parent habits has additional personal benefits as well.
Cats kept indoors are protected from other people, predators, vehicle collisions, diseases, and toxins such as rodenticide. This prudent approach can save you from costly veterinary care and reduce the emotional toll that injured or lost pets can take on families. Again, the same applies when you walk your dog on a leash.
Animal Protective Foundation’s Director of Veterinary Medicine, Jackie Kucskar, DVM, explains: “Keeping pets indoors or securely leashed outdoors reduces the likelihood of accidents and injuries, such as those caused by cats and dogs.” B. being hit by a car or coming into contact with a poison, significant substance and altercations with other pets or wild animals, all of which can lead to potentially expensive veterinary treatment. Additionally, if your pet isn’t spayed, unwanted pregnancies can occur when your pet roams free.” If pet owners who choose to keep their animals close by are concerned about their pets’ activity levels and boredom, Dr . Kucskar enriching activities to keep your furry friend entertained.
Why should pet owners care for wildlife? Because we all thrive when we have a balanced ecosystem. Birds play a crucial role in dispersing seeds and keeping our forests diverse and thriving. A single bat can eat 3,000 insects in a single night! That pesky possum that ended up in your trash last week later feasted on tick larvae by the thousands.
As habitat loss continues due to new neighborhoods and climate change continues to challenge the viability of some species, it is likely that we will see more wildlife in our Capital Region neighborhoods. Animal lovers can do their part to keep their families and our environment healthier and safer.
Sheyenne Wales is an Animal Care and Customer Specialist at the Animal Protective Foundation (APF). APF contributes Animal Chronicles articles and welcomes animal-related questions and stories about the people and animals in our community. Visit animalprotective.org, follow us on social media @AnimalProtectiveFoundation, or email us [email protected]
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