They are three of Hilliard’s most popular residents.
People see them every day in the city. They even have their own dedicated social media community page!
We’re talking turkeys — or technically, turkeys, because three can usually be found. And they represent just one example of the wildlife that Hilliard residents live together in our community. Other common creatures include Canada geese, deer, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, and coyotes.
Some residents welcome this type of wildlife as an important part of life in a community that maintains forested and agricultural areas. Others point to problems caused by the interactions humans and wildlife will experience as humans expand into an area that was once home to these animals.
By following a few basic rules, humans and wild animals can live in harmony.
First, remember the ‘wild’ part of ‘wildlife’. It is always best to give these animals a safe distance. Not only can they feel the need to defend themselves when cornered or harassed, but people approaching animals naturally cause stress and fear in creatures, triggering a flight response. This can cause them to injure themselves, expend energy to flee, damage property or jump into traffic.
In general, these animals just try to live together in territory that belonged to wildlife before human encroachment. If they eat landscaping, approach property to eat cat food on the patio, or dine in an open trash can or compost bin, it’s because people have provided a buffet of readily available foods.
That doesn’t mean you have to feed these critters! Not only does that make animals dependent on and less afraid of people, in many cases our food is also not healthy for wildlife. (A common example of this misunderstanding is when people accidentally feed bread to geese.)
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Wildlife tends to be most active early in the morning and late at night, so use extreme caution when driving during those times. Certain times of the year are also more prone to accidents. Of the 40 reported accidents involving deer and vehicles last year, 65% occurred in October, November and December, during their breeding season.
It’s worth learning about the behavior of some of our more misunderstood wildlife.
For example, coyotes are typically afraid of humans. They are more likely to eat carrion, wasted food, pet food and small animals, such as voles and rabbits, than anything larger and more dangerous to them.
Most Ohio snakes are not venomous. The snakes you may encounter in your yard are almost always beneficial. They usually eat insects, mice and other small pests. Snakes will shun you if possible, and the most common snake you’re likely to see – garter snakes – won’t hurt you!
Opossums are actually cool creatures! They are the only marsupial in North America (meaning that the females carry their babies in a stomach pouch, like a kangaroo.) They mainly eat dead animals, insects (including many ticks) and small rodents.
Deer can be beautiful, but they can be a nuisance eating landscaping. While commercially available chemicals can repel deer, many people swear by a simple mix of two tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and an egg mixed in a gallon of water and sprayed on plants.
If a wild animal that frequents your yard does not appear to have a fear of humans or exhibit a conflict even after removing attractants from your yard, contact the Ohio Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543 ).
Andrew Beare is Hilliard’s town ranger.