Cornwallis is home to an array of wildlife and some live amongst us and others just travel through the area which may sometimes lead to an encounter. Below are some of these animals along with tips on how to react and deal with a certain situation should it ever arise as well as valuable fact sheets and information on each animal.
Always remember that wild animals are or can be dangerous and by feeding wild animals, you may be conditioning them to expect food from people. Animals that lose their natural tendency to avoid people can become a significant threat.
If you encounter wildlife and are unsure of what to do, call the local Conservation Officer in Carberry at 204-834-8800. Cornwallis's animal control officer only addresses concerns regarding domestic animals.
Turn in Poachers (TIP)
A 24 hour toll free line where residents can report poachers - 1-800-782-0076
Collisions with Wildlife
A collision with wildlife can cause serious injury or death to vehicle occupants and the animal, and can result in significant vehicle damage. Wild animals can be found on roadways anywhere, even within cities. Peak wildlife times are from dusk to dawn in the fall.
You can take steps to avoid collisions with wildlife. Watch a 60 Second Driver video on Wildlife and read some great tips here .
Wildlife-proof your home
It is important that you wildlife-proof your home to prevent wildlife from becoming permanent residents. Animals such as raccoons, skunks, rabbits, squirrels, rats and mice need shelter, food, and water to survive.
If you have gaps below a deck, porch, storage shed, or home; these spaces could provide shelter for wildlife. Fencing, lattice, wire, and patching products can be used to seal and minimize shelter opportunities for wildlife. Of course, be certain no wildlife is present before you seal an area. Food sources such as overflowing garbage cans, improperly stored food, and even birdfeeders can attract wildlife. View this Informational video
on wildlife-proofing your home.
Rabies is a viral infection that can be transmitted from animals to people. It is most commonly transmitted through saliva (spit) of an infected animal, usually after a bite. The disease attacks the nervous system and eventually affects the brain. Once symptoms appear, rabies is usually fatal.
Symptoms - After contact with the rabies virus, symptoms typically take between 20 and 60 days to appear. Occasionally, symptoms take only days to appear, but sometimes they don't appear for years. There is often discomfort or pain at the site of a bite. Symptoms may also be flu-like and include fever, headache and weakness (general feeling of being unwell). As the disease progresses, an infected person may experience increased difficulty with swallowing, excessive salivating, muscle spasms and unusual behavior. Once a person begins to show signs of the disease, it is usually too late to treat it successfully and survival is rare. Learn more about rabies here .
Live traps are available at the RM's Public Works Office. To acquire a live trap, submit a request for rental of the Live Trap. Once this information is submitted, the Animal Control Officer will contact you to let you know if one is available.
Coyotes are most frequently seen and heard during mating season (January-March) and when juveniles start leaving the family pack (September-November). While normally fearful of people, they can sometimes be spotted crossing yards or streets. This behavior is not unusual, especially in residential areas bordering on open space where coyotes find their natural prey. They may simply be taking a shortcut to their favorite hunting ground. This type of sighting generally requires no response—other than making sure that pets and children are secure and that there are no likely food attractants present in the area.
Coyotes are naturally timid animals and will usually flee at the sight of a human. If they linger or approach, it’s time to begin "hazing.” This is a term applied to the following actions that
can be taken to scare coyotes and chase them away:
- Be as big and loud as possible. Do not run or turn your back.
- Wave your arms, clap your hands, and shout in an authoritative voice.
- Make noise by banging pots and pans or using an air horn or whistle. These sounds can also alert the neighbors.
- Throw small stones, sticks, tennis balls or anything else you can lay your hands on. Remember the intent is to scare and not to injure.
- Spray with a hose, if available, or a squirt gun filled with water and vinegar.
- Shake or throw a "coyote shaker”—a soda can filled with pennies or pebbles and sealed with duct tape.
The effects of hazing may not last unless all food attractants are permanently removed. This information should be shared with neighbors, friends and homeowner’s associations since hazing is most effective when the entire neighborhood is working together. Hazing should never be attempted if the coyote is accompanied by pups or appears to be sick or injured.
Some coyotes may freeze and stare, or run a short distance and stop. Hazing should be continued until the coyote gets the message and finally leaves the scene. Hazing can work whether the encounter is with a lone coyote or a small pack. If the leader retreats, the rest of the pack will follow. If the coyote refuses to retreat or returns to the area despite persistent hazing, it may be due to the fact that someone is feeding coyotes nearby. This is a cause for concern and should be reported to the local Conservation Officers.
Small pets and children should never be left unattended, and dogs should always be walked on a leash. Problems are more likely to occur when the animal is out of the owner’s control. It can also be helpful to carry a noisemaker or squirt gun. If a coyote approaches, pick up the pet or child, then start hazing. If the coyote does not leave, back away slowly while continuing to haze and go indoors if possible. Any aggressive behavior should be reported to the local Conservation Officers. If bites or other injuries are sustained, medical attention should be sought.
Cornwallis is home to many bear sightings and we want everyone to be safe and know what to do if there is ever an encounter. The most important thing is to not feed the bears.
White-tailed deer are one of Manitoba’s most valued wildlife species and are found in many parts of Manitoba including Cornwallis. White-tailed deer are remarkably adaptable, and can easily live in close proximity to people. This provides for interactions and potential conflicts between people and deer. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of conflicts and coexist with deer. This Coexisting with White-Tailed Deer fact sheet
offers some advice to help protect yourself, your family, your property and deer. Feeding deer can actually endanger their health and survival and there are many reasons for not feeding deer and you can read more on this Don't Feed the Deer information sheet
A number of beavers do exist in Cornwallis and can often be a nuisance by building dams and causing damage to areas, but yet they have many important ecological, economic, aesthetic and intrinsic values. However, conflicts with beavers can happen when they construct dams that cause flooding to people’s property and infrastructure, harvest valued trees and plants for food or dam construction, or when they transmit disease to people. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of conflicts with beavers. This Coexisting with Beavers fact sheet
offers some helpful advice to protect yourself, your family, your property, and beavers. If you find that a beaver has done damage to a municipal road or drain or has built a dam that is causing blockage, please contact our office at 204-725-8686
. You can also learn more about Beaver Dam and Lodge removal in this guide
Raccoons, aka "masked bandits" are known for their intelligence and ingenuity. They have very nimble and manipulative paws and are very strong. These characteristics provide them with the necessary tools to damage and destroy property in their efforts to survive in urban environments. Although the wild raccoon lives a largely solitary life, the attraction to urban areas can cause them to much more densely populate. A density of 10 - 25 raccoons per square kilometer has been observed. They will build their dens in chimneys, attics, roofs, crawl spaces, under decks and sheds.
Once per year, male raccoons will attempt to mate with multiple partners each season whereas the female will mate with only one male, avoiding all others afterwards. Mating occurs during the winter months but can continue until June. This prolonged mating season makes it essential for wildlife technicians to detect if there are any babies present during the initial assessment. Offspring are born about 9 weeks after mating. It is not uncommon for mothers to make a last minute den to give birth in which is why urban structures are so attractive. Female raccoons produce litters between 1 and 7 offspring (typically 3 or 4). Newborn raccoons are blind and deaf for their first three weeks but grow quickly. They are cared for exclusively by the female who teaches them how to forage for food and shelter. One of the main threats to young raccoons is predators such as the coyote. Young raccoons will typically stay with their mother through the first winter after which they gradually leave. Female raccoons can begin to breed at one year of age whereas males tend to begin later at the age of two.
Raccoons feeds every day but must forage to locate their food and are nocturnal so are most active at night. They eat both plants and animals as a primary food source. They prefer veggies, fruits, insects, slugs, snails, fish, frogs, turtles, small animals, eggs and are especially attracted to anything that is left behind in the garbage.
Did You Know?
Raccoon fact: The raccoon has very dexterous paws and are intelligent enough to twist handles and open doors.
Raccoon fact: When in distress, baby raccoons can sounds like human babies.
Raccoon fact: Their motherly instinct in is very strong and they will cause major damage if separated from their young.
Raccoon fact: Raccoons can have as many as 5 or 6 den sites in a residential area.
Raccoon fact: Raccoons prefer to wash their food before eating it.
Raccoon fact: Raccoons can carry the rabies virus without showing any signs or symptoms.
Skunks are extremely adaptable and thrive in many different habitats, as long as food and shelter are available. Because they rarely travel more than 2 miles from their established dens, a skunk will typically settle down within 2 miles of a water source. Dens are made in tree hollows, hollowed out logs, brush piles, abandoned animal burrows, and underneath porches and other structures. Skunks will occasionally dig their own burrows underground if no other shelter options are available.
Activity: Skunks are nocturnal, so they are most active at night. They do not hibernate, but they tend to be inactive during the coldest months in winter, when many gather in communal dens for warmth. For the remainder of the year, skunks are generally solitary, living and foraging alone.
Reproduction: Mating season is one of the only other times when skunks tend to socialize. Skunks have litters of 1-7 young in late April through early June.
Digging: Skunks have strong forefeet and long nails, which make them excellent diggers. They dig holes in lawns, gardens and golf courses in search of food like grubs and earthworms. When no other form of shelter is available, they may even burrow underneath buildings by entering foundation openings.
Spraying: Skunks are known to release a powerful smell through their anal glands when threatened. Skunks will usually only attack when cornered or defending their young, and spraying is not the first method of defense. A skunk will growl, spit, fluff its fur, shake its tail, and stamp the ground. If the intruder does not leave, the skunk will then lift its tail and spray its famous skunk odor.
HOW TO GET RID OF A SKUNK
1. Eliminate Food and Shelter
The first essential step in getting rid of skunks is removing elements from your yard that may be attracting skunks in the first place. Skunks likely enter your yard in search of food and shelter, and if these elements aren't present, they will seek them elsewhere.
- Clean up fallen berries, fruits and seeds.
- Rake up leaves or grass in which seeds or other food may be buried.
- Remove garbage and use tight-fitting lids on your trashcans.
- Fill abandoned burrows with gravel, or cover them with wire mesh or fencing (see Expert Tips).
- Close off access to sheds, barns and poultry houses.
- Eliminate woodpiles, junk piles, hollowed logs and any other debris in which skunks can take shelter.
2. Identify Areas of Damage
In order to determine the best control method, it's important to become familiar with your skunks' behavior and the damage they cause.
Common skunk habits include:
- living under your porch/shed
- Burrowing underneath your lawn/home
- digging in your lawn for grubs and insects (leaving small cone-shaped holes)
- eating your fruits/berries
- pilfering your trash
- raiding your poultry house
3. Choose the Right Control Method
Once you're aware of the skunk activity in your yard, you can select the best skunk control method(s) for you. Depending on the type of damage caused and the size of the skunk population in your area, you may choose to adopt more than one method - keep in mind that the more methods you use, the more likely you'll find long-term success.
A live trap is a great solution for getting rid of a resident skunk that's taken shelter in your yard. Because skunks are known to spray when threatened, some homeowners may hesitate to use this method, but it is one of the best methods for a stubborn animal. Below are steps you can take to keep from getting sprayed:
- Hold a large towel or sheet in front of you, down to your toes, as you walk towards the trap.
- Approach a trapped skunk calmly, humming softly as you near the trap in order to avoid startling the animal.
- Drop the towel or sheet over the cage once you reach it. Skunks don't like to spray if they can't see their target.
Live traps are available at the RM's Office. To acquire a live trap, please call the office in advance at 204-725-8686.
Although cougars are known to exist in Manitoba and are rare for our area, there have been occasional sightings in parts of the municipality. Cougars mostly eat deer, but sometimes go for species like elk, or smaller animals like beavers and porcupines if they're unsuccessful in hunting deer. Cougars are ambush hunters, and if they know that they've been observed and they're being watched, that tends to short circuit their predatory instincts and they don't attack.
Unlike most waterfowl, Canada geese consume food that they primarily find on land, rather than in water. Historically, this has meant extensive damage to agricultural crops, particularly during the fall migration. While agricultural producers continue to experience waterfowl crop depredation from Canada geese, these adaptable birds are now increasingly taking up residence in urban areas. This has resulted in increased conflicts with the people in urban areas, including increased risks to human safety, health and property damage. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of conflicts with Canada geese. This Coexisting with Canada Geese fact sheet
offers some helpful advice to protect yourself, your family, your property and geese.
Foxes are normally afraid of people and try to avoid them. It is unusual for these species to approach people, but when it occurs, it is usually seen in animals that have become habituated because people feed them. Sometimes the feeding is intentional, but more often foxes get used to being around urban dwellings when pet food and scraps from garbage or compost are not well contained. Under normal circumstances foxes are not a threat to people. Foxes who have been habituated because they were fed are still unlikely to initiate any contact with people, but they occasionally may come too close for comfort.
If you encounter a fox who does not immediately run away, make some noise. Yell, clap your hands, wave your arms, stomp your feet—make your presence felt, but do not approach or chase the animal. You can also carry a whistle, or other noisemaker when walking in known fox areas.
Occasionally, foxes will build dens to raise their young underneath porches or in earth banks. Where the den is in a truly unsuitable area, foxes can sometimes be encouraged to move their pups to an alternate den site using simple harassment methods. Playing talk radio and sprinkling human urine next to the den opening for several days is often enough to convince the family to move on.
How to prevent conflict with foxes
Limiting human food sources is the best way to prevent conflicts with foxes and to help keep them wild.
- Do not put out food for foxes
- Keep waste in secure bins or store bins in a secure building or container
- Do not put waste bins out until morning of pick-up
- Make sure outdoor compost containers are wildlife-proof
- Remove fallen fruit from trees and scattered bird seed from feeders (these foods attract rodents which, in turn, attract foxes)
- Keep pet food inside, and do not leave small pets outdoors unattended
The Porcupine looks most like a prickly beaver. Its long strands of brown hair looks soft, but thousands of quills are tucked inside. The longest quills are found on their back and behind, while the shortest ones are on their face. Each quill is hollow – it is yellowish in colour, with a black tip and is covered in tiny barbs. Roughly 30,000 quills cover the whole body except for the stomach, nose and bottom of their feet. The porcupine has a small face, small ears, short legs and a thick, small tail. Its flat feet and sharp, rounded claws make it well adapted to climbing trees. Porcupines rely heavily on smell as they are short-sighted.
Porcupines stick close to the trees. Beyond forests, you may find them alongside river undergrowth and maybe in the trees by a rocky ledge. They live in dens found in rock piles, caves, fallen logs and trees. Generally, they stay close to home leaving their dens for food — porcupines eat a variety of shrubs, bark, water plants and they love anything salty. Porcupines are almost always on the hunt for salt, which is a key nutrient that’s difficult to find in the wild. Ice-melting road salt, salty food scraps, and even the dried crusts of salt on sweaty gardening gloves and other work gear can prove irresistible to porcupines. Secure these items in sealed containers in your garage, shed, or home to make sure porcupines can’t access them.
The porcupine will try to run away if it feels there’s danger. They’ll make loud chattering noises as a warning for predators to leave. If they can’t get away, their muscles tighten forcing their quills to come out. It will tuck its head in, lean forward and thump its back feet while swinging its tail as a warning. Sometimes loose quills fly out of the tail or if a predator tries to get too close, the quills will stick them. The quills are an amazing defense mechanism — when they get lodged in the skin, body heat makes the barbs swell, making it even harder and more painful to pull them out.
In general, a porcupine on your property is no cause for alarm. The worst damage it can inflict is slowly killing a tree by stripping away much of its protective bark and eating all the green shoots off new branches. If a porcupine is snacking on a tree in your yard that will cause damage if it falls. Coming too close to a porcupine can make it agitated and nervous, and it may deploy its best defense mechanism—swinging its thickly quilled tail at you in the hopes of lodging a few spines into your skin. A porcupine’s quills are only lightly attached to its body, meaning they will easily come loose when used in self-defense. It’s extremely important to keep dogs and other pets away from porcupines, as these rodents won’t hesitate to defend themselves, and can take even a curious sniff as a threat if they feel vulnerable.
If your dog is unfortunate enough to encounter a porcupine:
- Get them to the vet as fast as possible so the quills can be removed before they begin to migrate.
- Do everything you can to prevent your dog from pawing at the quills. This can break them off and even push them further in, making them harder to find and remove.
- Elizabethan collars (E-collar, cone of shame, lampshade collars) are very helpful here.
- Do not use a muzzle unless you are sure there are no quills in the face or mouth.
- Get some help in restraining them.
- Even the best dogs will struggle when the quills are being pulled; it hurts.
- DO NOT CUT the quills
Rabbits are fuzzy creatures that hop around your garden and your lawn. However, rabbits that are kept as pets are very different than rabbits in the wild. Rabbits are most recognized by their "fluffy” appearance and bushy tails that resemble cotton balls. They have long ears and come in a variety of colors such as gray, white, brown and black. However, not everyone thinks that these critters are cute or harmless.
Rabbits are the enemy of gardeners, farmers and landscapers. Rabbits are an issue for these people because of what they eat. Rabbits will eat anything that is green and leafy. A rabbit’s diet mainly consists of flower bulbs, plant roots, shrubs and some parts of trees. They will also make a snack of any of the fruits, vegetables or herbs that you have growing in your garden. They will also dig holes in your lawn and under your house or porch for their burrows which can cause significant damage. If you have a rabbit problem that you want to take care of, try these suggestions to get rid of rabbits.
- Fencing is probably the most effective and humane way to get rid of your rabbits. You can choose to either fence off your entire yard, your garden or even individual plants to keep the rabbits from eating them. You can go with almost any type of fence, but you want to make sure that the fence is buried at least a foot underground with at least a foot above ground. A white picket fence will do the trick or you can try a wire mesh fence if you are on a budget. However, building a fence like this will not do anything for the rabbits already in your yard, so you will want to get rid of those when you build the fence.
- Trapping is another effective way to get rid of rabbits in your yard. Bait the trap with an enticing snack and make sure to wash all of your human scent off of it. Rabbits are smart and will know when you are up to something. Make sure to check the traps every day and when you do catch the rabbit relocate it to an area that is at least 10 miles away from your property.
- You can also use repellents like predator urine. Coyote and fox urine has said to be effective for scaring away rabbits, but these scents are unreliable and wear off quickly. You will have to constantly reapply it, especially after it rains. Needless to say, if you live in an area that gets a lot of rainfall, this is not the method for you.
- There are also fungicide sprays that are repulsive to rabbits and they will not go near the plants that you spray it on. These sprays have a chemical called thiram that is toxic to the rabbits. However, this chemical is also toxic to humans and you cannot spray it on plants that you plan on eating. However, for trees, shrubs and ornamental plants this is very effective for keeping the rabbit away while not affecting the plant.
Squirrels are active year round, but mostly in the morning and evening on dry days. They feed primarily on nuts, especially hickory nuts, acorns, beechnuts, and walnuts. At times they feed heavily on maple or tulip tree seeds, fruit, opening buds, and can cause considerable damage to a corn patch.
The nest in tree cavities or build leaf nests in branches (mostly in summer) usually at least 25 feet off the ground. They most often enter structures such as attics and garages for shelter, to store food, and/or to nest, which can result in damage to the structure and/or its contents and have been found tunneling and nesting in/under blown-in fiberglass insulation between attic floor joists. Outdoors, they can cause considerable damage to electrical and telephone cables.
Controlling Squirrel Damage
- The access holes used by the squirrels SHOULD NOT be sealed until ALL activity has ceased. Holes can be sealed with metal flashing, steel wool, "Stuff-It”, or ¼ inch galvanized steel mesh. Be proactive and seal holes before they enter.
- Use live traps in the area of activity (in attic, garage, on roof, trees, etc.). Place the traps along runways between the entrance hole and nesting site. Check the traps daily to re-bait, reposition, and to remove trapped or dead squirrels. Peanut butter is the best bait to use when baiting any type of trap.