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Ignorance kills wildlife, longtime conservationist says

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre will be visiting Quinte Conservation Thursday evening.

Representatives of Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee held a seminar at Quinte Conservation headquarters at Wallbridge-Loyalist Road and Old Highway 2 last Thursday evening. Photo by Emilie Quesnel, QNet News

By Emilie Quesnel [1] 

BELLEVILLE – Humans are the reason that Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre [2] is so busy with sick and injured wildlife, according to founder and president Sue Meech.

“People do a lot of damage to animals and the wildlife population,” Meech said.

Napanee-based Sandy Pines paired with Quinte Conservation [3] to put together an information night that welcomed people from the area to come and learn about wildlife conservation and how they can help.

Meech says she is passionate about informing the people of the Quinte area about these things.

She said she hopes that the information night will enlighten people on the dangers that local wildlife face every day, and how people can help create a safer world for animals to live in.

“I hope they leave knowing that they’ve got to share this planet with the wildlife on it. Without the wildlife, we’re nothing.”

Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre has been around for over 20 years. The work the organization does ranges from rehabilitating sick animals, to working with veterinarians and humane societies throughout Ontario, to assisting homeowners who are having animal problems.

This is the time of year that the centre sees the sickest patients, Meech said. Wintertime brings in many animals who are suffering from a range of things: gunshot wounds, diseases, and young that have been separated from their mothers.

The relationship between humans and wild animals should remain distant, she said. “We want to keep them wild. We don’t want them to like us … We’re interfering too much with their lives.”

Jennifer May-Anderson, the communications manager for Quinte Conservation, said one thing people do for wildlife that seems kind, but isn’t, is to feed them. Feeding may do more harm than good, she said. Many municipalities have bylaws [4] against feeding wildlife.

Even feeding birds can be problematic, she said, explaining that the birds attracted to feeders create “a buffet” for larger birds that prey on them: “When you feed birds you have to be prepared for the fact that every Cooper’s hawk [5] in the area knows that there are wild birds there.”

Feeding isn’t the only problem; there are other things people do in attempts to help that just make things worse wildlife. For example, you should never trap and relocate animals more than one kilometre away from where they’re found. In fact, it’s illegal.

“If you trap and don’t know if you’ve got a male or female there, there’s a chance you’re taking a mother away from its young and they’re going to die without help,” Meech said. The animal could spend weeks, even months, trying to find its way back home and could starve in the process.

Meech says she spends every day working to protect and save wildlife because she said she feels that she owes them.

“What I do here is kind of like payback time. I’m trying to make up to the animals for all the damage that humans do on this planet.”