Wildlife, Pests, and Pets
For individuals who own dogs, please ensure that they are properly licenced with the city each year. For recreation, Maple Ridge has several off-lease dog parks where our furry friends can safely hang out and play.
Even in an urban environment like Maple Ridge, interactions between humans and wildlife are inevitable. For the most part, these interactions are of little consequence, like a crow flying off the road as your car drives past. However, the interactions are sometimes much more noteworthy. One of the major complaints about wildlife made by people living in cities is that animals like rats, raccoons, and bears are sometimes known to break into garbage and compost bins. Like many actions in the animal world, this is done in the never-ending pursuit of food.
Bears in particular have an excellent sense of smell, and are able to source out improperly stored garbage from over a kilometer away. To prevent this from happening, manage attractants and ensure that you’re not giving these animals a reason to break into your bins. Check out WildSafe BC for even more advice on reducing conflict with wildlife.
As frustrating as interactions with hungry scavengers can be, human-animal interactions are not nearly as dangerous for us as they are for them. Whether it’s because of a vehicle, a pet, or just an angry person looking to cause harm, wild animals are hurt by interactions with humans over and over again. If you come across an injured animal that looks to be in trouble, please contact the Wildlife rescue association of BC. They will rescue the animal and care for it until it is able to survive on its own.
Surprisingly, one of the most common causes of injury to wildlife in an urban area like Maple Ridge is the domesticated house cat. Though they may be soft and cuddly, outdoor cats are one of the deadliest predators on the planet, and they often wreak havoc on local wildlife. They prey on birds, bats, rodents, insects, fish, and the offspring of other mammals; and unlike most natural predators, they hunt for sport. Specifically, a study conducted by Environment Canada determined that house cats kill between 100 and 350 million birds in Canada each year; more than twice as much as windows, cars, hunters, powerlines, and wind turbines combined.
The best way to prevent your cat from harming wildlife is to keep it indoors. For those who believe that this is inhumane treatment for a house cat, remember that by letting them outside you are exposing them to disease, parasites like lice, ticks, or fleas, or harm from other people or animals. If you do choose to let them out, please ensure that they are fixed, as unexpected litters of kittens often end up feral or living in shelters. Feral cats are house cats that have survived outside long enough to become wild themselves, and increasing populations put serious strain on wildlife populations, particularly endangered birds.
If you’re looking to protect local wildlife while still allowing your cat to explore outside, consider attaching a bell to their collar or purchasing a colourful catbib. Cats hunt using stealth and precise timing, and the bell/bib interferes with their ability to ambush their prey. While it might not save every defenseless bird or rodent, it at least gives them a chance to escape the danger before it is too late.