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RISMEDIA, March 22, 2011—According to Drew Cowley of Little Rascals Nuisance Wildlife Services, now that spring is here, it’s not only people shaking off the cold months of winter. Wildlife is also returning to its busy schedule of nursing and raising their young, building nests, and gathering food.

Says Cowley, “In recent weeks, we’ve seen a noticeable upsurge in animal-related incidents. New litters of wildlife are emerging in search of food. Calls from distressed homeowners seeking wildlife removal are definitely increasing.”

Early spring is the time for homeowners to ready themselves for the increase in wildlife activity and the potential for human-animal conflicts. Homeowners should inspect their home for potential routes of entry and remove attractants to wildlife such as unsecured garbage cans and pet food left outside. Be on the lookout for the tell-tail signs of animal encroachments whether visual such as droppings and tracks or auditory such as unusual sounds and scratches. But, when it comes to wildlife, the first priority is the personal safety of our kids.

Says Cowley, “Parents must teach their tender age children to respect wildlife and to keep a healthy distance. Children, and adults for that matter, should avoid personal contact with wild animals—and that includes feeding them. Squirrels never heard of the saying ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’ Children must understand that wildlife is unpredictable and dangerous. Wildlife injuries and zoonotic diseases, infectious diseases transmitted by wildlife, are inevitably serious and almost always avoidable.”

Continues Cowley, “Unfortunately, most children have no appreciation of the risk and dangers of contact with wildlife. They watch computer-animated films with friendly, sociable animals that talk and dance and have human-like expressions, behaviors, and emotions. Whatever children may think of Mickey Mouse, Rocky Raccoon, or Simon the Squirrel, real wild animals—even urbanized wildlife that have lost their instinct to be wary of people—have no interest in being their furry friends.”

Adds Cowley, “For safety’s sake, children must learn to never to chase, touch, or pick up any wild animal, dead or alive. Any animals that can be caught may be diseased or injured and likely to bite. Dead animals can be rife with disease. And some may not be dead at all. The opossum, for example, has an unusual defense mechanism, an involuntary comatose-like state induced by fear. An inert opossum is often left alone by predators who want to chase, catch, and kill their prey. When a child picks up a ‘dead’ opossum by the tail, he or she is inevitably bitten once the animal reanimates itself. Also, with nuisance wildlife, especially squirrels and raccoons, there is nothing more vicious than a frothing-at-the-mouth mother protecting its nest. These animals have razor-sharp teeth and claws that can inflict extensive damage in a matter of seconds.”

Wildlife can injure humans not only through bites and scratches, but also through their droppings. Animal droppings and urine are a toxic brew of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites capable of transmitting a host of serious, potentially fatal, diseases to humans and their pets. Never allow a child or pet to go near standing water. Water contaminated by infected animal urine can pass diseases through mucous membranes and cuts in the skin, not just through consumption. Even the seemingly innocuous cottontail rabbit can be a carrier of tularemia, a serious bacterial disease, which is transmitted to people by contaminated water as well as ticks.

Perhaps the most known and feared of all wildlife diseases is rabies, a viral disease of the central nervous system that is spread when an infected animal bites or scratches. Raccoons, in addition to being common carriers of rabies, also transmit distemper and roundworm. ReiteratesCowley, “Please let your children know that if they come across one of these ‘masked bandits’ at a playground or anywhere outside, get away and stay away. Raccoons are one of the most dangerous nuisance wildlife in New Jersey. They are large and powerful. And if cornered or if they feel the need to protect their nest, these animals give new meaning to the word vicious.”

Concludes Cowley, “Children and adults must always remember the ‘wild’ in wildlife. If nuisance critters have made their home in and around yours, it is a situation that requires immediate action. Contact a wildlife removal specialist with the experience to extract these animals safely and humanely. Having a wildlife removal problem handled by a professional will save yourself headaches and hassles—and possibly a few of your fingertips.”

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