Living with Foxes and Skunks Goose Hunting: CWS

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1 Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry Living with Foxes and Skunks Goose Hunting: CWS November 19 th, 2015 Town of Tecumseh Kathryn Markham, A/Management Biologist Steven Rowswell, A/Wildlife Technician Aylmer District, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

2 Outline Foxes in Urban Areas Living with Skunks Goose Hunting

3 Role of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) Work collaboratively with other agencies such as the police and municipalities to manage and reduce conflicts between people and wildlife Foster public awareness and education on wildlife issues

4 Fox Life History Range spans across Canada Stand about 14 inches tall and roughly inches in length Maintain solitary with the exception of breeding season Breeding takes place in late January to early February Litter size averages 6-8 pups in southern Ontario Prefer mixed terrain habitat and thrive in farm landscapes Diet includes mice, rabbits, fruit, and garbage

5 Foxes in Urban Areas Extremely adaptable animals tolerant of living in close proximity to humans and development Urban areas are attractive due to safety from predators and abundant food supply Areas underneath decks or sheds provide suitable den sites Diet in urban areas mainly consists of small mammals (mice, voles, shrews, etc.)

6 The Human-Fox Interaction Wildlife respond to human presence in three ways: 1. Attraction 2. Habituation 3. Avoidance Attraction: result of positive contact with humans Habituation: result of repeated positive contacts with humans Avoidance: result of a negative contact with humans

7 Keeping Fox Wild- Society s Role Landowners and municipalities should reinforce negative encounters for foxes in urban areas The more residents reduce fox-friendly situations, the less likely it is that a fox will become habituated to human activity As a result, interactions between people or their companion animals and foxes will be less likely

8 Preventing Conflicts with Wildlife Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans: Food Water Shelter Humans and wildlife come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs Conflicts can often be avoided if we are willing to make small changes

9 Limiting Human - Fox Interaction Limit food sources Never intentionally feed foxes Store garbage indoors or in a secure container Keep barbeques covered and clean Clean up fallen fruit or birdseed Keep small livestock and pets indoors or secure at night Make your property unwelcoming Secure the perimeter of decks, sheds and crawl spaces Remove prey habitat such as wood piles or brush Install motion activated lights or noise makers Fence your property to make it less accessible

10 What To Do If You Encounter a Fox If you see a fox, keep your distance and the animal will most likely avoid you. Fox show little to no aggression towards humans Don t let them intimidate you Attempt to scare them by making loud noises or shining a bright light If a fox poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911

11 Skunk Life History Found in forests, towns and cities across Ontario Solitary animals that live alone almost year round Mating season occurs around late winter and produces an average litter size of 4-6 kits Primarily nocturnal Generally inhabit abandoned dens made by other species Diet includes insects, mice, squirrels, and various plants

12 Preventing Conflicts with Wildlife Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans: Food Water Shelter Humans and wildlife come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs Conflicts can often be avoided if we are willing to make small changes

13 Living With Skunks Limit Food Sources Never feed or provide food for skunks Feed pets inside and lock pet doors at night Ensure lawns are free of insects (i.e. grubs) to prevent skunks from digging in search of food Store garbage indoors until collection day Make your Property Unwelcoming Secure perimeter of potential den sites (i.e. decks, sheds) Block off access points to your garage and other buildings Install motion activated flashing lights or noise makers

14 How To Handle A Skunk Encounter If you encounter a skunk, keep your distance and do not approach the animal. Not aggressive by nature and will always attempt to retreat Ensure animal has a clear escape route Remain calm and do not threaten the animal Spraying is a last resort

15 Protection of Property Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, Section 31 The Owner of a property (including a municipality) can take action on their land if a fox or skunk is damaging or about to damage their property by: 1. Personally harassing, capturing and releasing the animal in close proximity (within 1 km of capture site), or killing the problem wildlife 2. Using an Agent to harass, capture, or kill problem wildlife on their behalf Cannot capture, harass or kill more wildlife than is necessary for protection of property Firearm regulations and municipal by-laws must be followed

16 Wildlife Agents Possess valid H1 Outdoors Card Possess a valid trapping licence Landowner s immediate family members OSPCA employees or agents Persons operating wildlife removal businesses (capture and release only) Municipal employees with specific responsibilities for wildlife control *A landowner may also invite licensed hunters or trappers on their property to hunt or trap during the open season

17 Hunting Seasons Red Fox and Skunk may be hunted under the authority of a small game licence Hunting and trapping season open year-round for Red Fox and Skunk in southern Ontario

18 Trapping Licences A trapping licence may be issued to a resident or Canadian citizen over 16 years of age who: Holds a valid hunting/fishing outdoors card Has successfully completed the fur harvest, fur management and conservation course within the past five years

19 Financial Incentives from Municipalities On July 1 st, 2013, new regulatory changes came into effect that allow municipalities to pay licensed hunters/trappers of furbearing mammals within their municipal boundaries without MNRF approval Municipality determines terms of the arrangements (e.g. the species of furbearing mammals, hunters or trappers involved, number of animals, locations, time periods, etc.) Hunters and trappers hired in this way must abide by relevant municipal bylaws and applicable hunting rules and regulations MNRF can provide advice on best management practices for these activities, and continues to provide advice on reducing conflicts in collaboration with other agencies

20 Goose Hunting in Ontario Regulated federally under the Migratory Birds Convention Act and the Migratory Birds Regulations made under this Act Seasons Bag/Possession Limits General Prohibitions Firearm Restrictions

21 Canadian Wildlife Service For more information regarding Migratory Bird Hunting, please contact the Canadian Wildlife Service at:

22 Summary People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario We all share responsibility for preventing and handling human-wildlife conflicts Often conflicts can be avoided if we make small changes to how we think and act More information can be found at: Ontario.ca/livingwithwildlife

23 Take Home Messages MNRF continues to provide advice to municipalities to help deliver an effective education and outreach program Education and awareness are the preferred methods for long-term, cost effective solutions to human-wildlife conflicts Residents have the option to hire a nuisance trapper/animal control agent if necessary

24 Questions?

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