May 31st, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 22
Good intentions by humans can harm wildlife
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Stock photo
Wildlife babies may be left on their own for hours at a time.
Pass Herald Reporter
It’s safe to say that spring has arrived in Crowsnest Pass bringing flowers, showers and newborn wildlife.

As wild animals and critters give birth, their newborns may be found alone and unaccompanied in the backcountry. While it may spark concern that the animal has been abandoned, Alberta Fish & Wildlife cautions that they’re best left alone. Instead, Fish & Wildlife should be contacted to assess the situation and determine the most appropriate course of action.

To take, transport, or hold a wild animal is illegal unless in possession of proper permitting through Alberta Environment and Parks, the provincial arm that sets the programs and rules for wildlife permits. Alberta Fish & Wildlife delivers the programs and issues permits under the rules and specifications of Environment and Parks.
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“In the beginning of spring, usually mid-April until the end of June, there are a number of animals being born. During that time, if someone calls in and they found an orphaned animal, a Fish & Wildlife officer will check it out and confirm that it’s orphaned,” says Christy Pool, who coordinates and organizes the Orphaned and Injured Wildlife Program for Alberta Fish & Wildlife. Her zone covers the area south of Calgary and west of Lethbridge.

Typically, officers will monitor the animal for a period of time because it is common for mothers to leave their babies for a couple of hours, and then return. If they confirm that there is no mother coming back and the baby needs to be removed, the officer calls Pool, who transports it to an appropriate permitted rehabilitation facility approved by Fish & Wildlife.

Pool acknowledges that most people pick up wild animals out of good intentions, but good intentions can be harmful to the animal and the surrounding fauna.

“Mothers will leave for up to 12 hours and sometimes, they’re not even far, they’re just good at hiding,” she says, adding that wild animals instinctually do not like to be handled. Doing so could result in serious health concerns for the animal.
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“When you pick them up and you put them into a crate or you put them into your arms, they can succumb to what is called capture myopathy where their organs start to shut down because their fight or flight instinctual response cannot happen because they are contained. So you actually kill them by trying to help them,” she says.

Spread of disease is another serious consequence of improperly handling or transporting wildlife.

For Southern Alberta, the serious concern is the spread of chronic wasting disease, which is present in deer east of Claresholm

“A lot of those animals, depending on where they are, would have to be euthanized because we can’t be spreading the disease. It’s sad, but we can’t move it to other places,” says district officer with Fish & Wildlife John Clarke.

People have also brought in raccoons from Lethbridge, which officers need to deal with because Lethbridge has a high amount of canine distemper in their raccoons, which also spreads to domestic pets.

If the public comes across animals in the area, they are advised to call the Alberta Fish & Wildlife office in Blairmore or the Report a Poacher line and give them a description of what they see and where the animal is, and a Fish & Wildlife officer will attend, assess the situation and decide whether it’s an animal that needs to be taken in or not.

The Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale and the Medicine River Wildlife Centre are two rehab facilities that the program commonly works with. They also work with the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) out of Madden.

Since the beginning of 2016, Pool has received a call for an injured eagle, which she transported to Birds of Prey Centre. On average, Pool says she receives calls for approximately four fawns per year in the Crowsnest Pass.

The Fish &?Wildlife office can be reached at (403) 562-3289.
May 31st, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 22
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