Celebrate World Wildlife this Wednesday!

A message from our Veterinarian Administrator

Being that World Wildlife Day,* March 3rd, is the “most important global annual event dedicated to wildlife” we here at DuPage County Animal Services (DCAS) dedicated this month’s newsletter to wildlife. DCAS understands the importance of living in harmony with wildlife and our goal is to help you coexist with your local critters. Each year, DCAS receives hundreds of calls regarding wildlife concerns. Here are some good tips to help you avoid conflict:

First, please cover your window wells. DCAS receives calls because wildlife fell into window wells; some examples include fox and deer. A plastic or metal cover should be flush against the wall. Metal covers should have grates small enough to prevent smaller animals from falling into the window well.  

Second, please check with state and local laws regarding the feeding of wildlife. For example, in Illinois it is illegal to put food out for deer. Putting out food can attract unwanted wildlife to your property, such as skunks, raccoons, and coyotes.  

Third, try to have your house sealed as well as possible. The following is from the CDC website: 

Carefully examine your home for holes that might allow bats entry into your living quarters. Caulk any openings larger than a quarter-inch by a half-inch. Use window screens, chimney caps, and draft-guards beneath doors to attics, fill electrical and plumbing holes with stainless steel wool or caulking, and ensure that all doors to the outside close tightly.

Did you know one of the services provided by Animal Services is controlling rabies in our County? The rabies virus is present in our area (and throughout the continental US) and a rabid animal bite is almost 100% fatal to humans if proper treatment is delayed or lacking. While all mammals can carry the rabies virus, the most common carriers in our area are bats. If a bat is found in a home, our Animal Control Officers (ACOs) work day and night to remove them in order to have them tested for rabies.  

Potential encounters with wildlife, such as a bat in your home or sick animals on your property, is a very important reason to make sure your cats, dogs, and even ferrets are current on their vaccinations. In 2020, DCAS also responded to 167 field calls for sick and injured wildlife. The majority of calls concerned skunks and raccoons potentially infected with the distemper virus, which is also contagious to dogs and ferrets.

The following link has an additional 10 simple tips that will help you live with wildlife: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/tips-to-help-you-live-in-harmony-with-wildlife/

DuPage County’s Forest Preserve’s website is also an excellent resource to learn how to “live” with bats and other wildlife. https://www.dupageforest.org/plants-wildlife/wildlife/living-with-wildlife.

By following these tips, it is possible to live in harmony with your local wildlife and appreciate them for the magnificent animals they are. _____________________________________________________________________________________

*The World Wildlife Day’s theme this year is “Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet” and here’s the link if you would like to learn more https://www.wildlifeday.org/.

Dr. Hanek Signature

Dr. Barbara Hanek,

Veterinarian Administrator

Virtual Programs Now Available

New Programs

Beginning in March, DCAS will offer free virtual programs to our community partners. These 60 minute webinars are customized for audiences of all ages. For more information and to book your program, contact Laura Winnie at laura.winnie@dupageco.org 

  • Compassionate Citizen Crash Course: Explore ways you can make a positive difference for animals in your community and beyond. This program discusses prevention of animal cruelty through direct actions and consumer choices we make every day.
  • Our Wild Neighbors: Separate fact from fiction about Chicagoland’s wildlife. Understand how you can protect these fascinating animals and live in harmony. 
  • Pet Training 101: From basic manners to advanced tricks, we’ll share some tips to help unlock your pet’s potential. 
  • S.H.E.D: 4 Necessities for Healthy & Happy Pets: What does my pet need? What pet is right for me? Join us for an exploration of pet needs including shelter, healthcare, exercise, and diet.  
  • Solutions with Animal Services: Learn about the services provided by DuPage County Animal Services and the many ways we protect animals and serve humans.
  • Wags to Whiskers: Animal Communication: Uncover the unspoken language of your pets by learning how to interpret animal body language and get some tips for effective communication.  

Who You Gonna Call...About Wildlife?

Do It Yourself: Ways to Prevent Conflict with Wildlife
  • Remove or secure attractants (food, open garbage, un-fenced gardens)
  • Clean under bird feeders and fruit-bearing trees
  • Maintain buildings to prevent potential sources for wildlife shelter (attic access, crawlspaces, sheds, stoops, etc)
When to Call Local Law Enforcement** When to Call Private Wildlife Control 
  • Wildlife found inside living spaces 
  • Sick or injured wildlife
  • Animals posing an immediate threat - call 911
  • Animals in non-living spaces (window wells/walls/attic/crawl spaces/etc)
  • Nuisance animals when DIY has failed

**If you live in an incorporated area, please call your local police department. Residents of unincorporated areas of DuPage County can call DuPage County Animal Services.

What Not to Do:

  • Intentionally place food out for animals such as coyotes, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, etc.
  • Bring wildlife into your home - even if you think it’s orphaned or injured
  • Put out traps which is illegal and may harm neighboring cats and dogs

Online Resources:

On Call with an Officer

Officer Barb with red fox

Barb Anthony: Senior Animal Control Officer

This year I'm celebrating my 15th year with DCAS, 13 as an Animal Control Officer (ACO). I have experienced many positive changes over the years in our field. ACOs are now seen in a more positive aspect, providing education along with enforcement while continuing to be compassionate and understanding. It can be difficult at times to enforce laws and provide services that are in the best interest of both the animals and the people in our community. 

Wildlife can be one of the most challenging subjects in our daily job. People in general want to help, but sometimes good intentions cause harmful situations. We all remember our parents saying, "If it's not yours, don't touch it!" and this applies to wildlife as well. For the safety of pets and people, it is vitally important. 

If that's true, then why am I touching a fox in the photo? It is important to remember that only animal professionals should ever attempt to handle wild animals. This particular fox had become acclimated to humans and we were called in the fall of 2014 to capture it. Domestication of a wild animal to this extent is extremely rare. It is believed he was a "pet" at some point due to his abnormal behavior. He was hanging out in a subdivision, playing with neighboring dogs and interacting with humans daily. The fox may have exposed both people and pets to zoonotic diseases that can be very harmful to everyone, not to mention potential injuries. The fox did have a positive outcome and became an educational ambassador - not all are as lucky.

You can still play a vital part insuring wildlife are protected. If you see an animal that may be injured or not acting "normal," it is important to contact the appropriate resource to assist you. Contact your local Police Department or Animal Control if you have questions or need guidance. 

Wild Rabbit or Pet Bunny?

Minerva Rabbit

There are several ways to tell the difference between a rabbit who belongs in the wild, and a stray pet. Wild rabbits tend to be sandy brown to help them camouflage while domestic rabbits come in all sorts of colors! Domestic rabbits also tend to have chubby cheeks and round eyes like our friend Minerva.

Minerva is big and beautiful! She'll need an experienced rabbit guardian because she was recently treated for E. Cuniculi and will require life-long monitoring for increase in neurological symptoms and vet care as needed. She doesn't let that slow her down though! Click on the picture to see a video of Minerva playing with a cardboard treat ball. She's learning to trust humans since coming to the shelter. Can you give this shy girl the loving home she needs?