Our community is full of wildlife, especially in rural and urban areas. Respect and admire wildlife from a safe distance - do not approach or touch them.
Tips for Living with Wildlife
- Monitor children closely when they are outdoors.
- Keep all food inside your home.
- Do not feed any wildlife, including squirrels, raccoons, deer and rabbits. It only takes one person feeding wild animals to cause a problem for an entire neighbourhood.
- Fill bird feeders only through the winter months. Do not allow a large amount of bird seed to remain on your lawn. If you are experiencing wildlife nuisance, do not use bird feeders at all.
- Pick all ripe fruit from trees and bushes and clean all rotten fruit off the ground.
- Avoid landscaping with trees, shrubs or plants that produce food known to attract bears (such as crab apple trees, mountain ash, beech and oak).
- Use rodent-proof composters, and put garbage in containers that have tight-fitting lids (bear-resistant).
- Do not put meat, fish or sweet food (including fruit) in your outside composter.
- Put garbage and compost containers out only on the morning of garbage day, not the night before.
- If you do not have curbside pickup, take your garbage to the dump often.
- Frequently wash garbage cans and recycling containers and lids with a strong smelling disinfectant.
- Remove grease and food residue from barbecue grills, including the grease cup underneath, after each use.
- Report any coyote sightings.
Pets, Livestock and Wildlife
- Keep pet food and water bowls indoors.
- Do not leave your pets outside by themselves.
- Keep your dog on a leash when off your property.
- Keep chickens, rabbits, and other small animals in covered enclosures, constructed with heavy mesh wire.
- Spray/neuter pets.
- Clean up after your dog. Many animals are attracted to dog feces.
- Vaccinate your pets regularly.
- Never touch dead animals, wild or domestic.
- Report any animal bites or scratches to the local health department and seek prompt medical attention. See Animal Control for additional information on animal bites.
If you are concerned about what you think might be sick, injured or orphaned wildlife, please call Animal Control or the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Beavers, Bears, Geese, Coyotes, Foxes, Pigeons and Rabies
Additional information is provided below on wildlife in our community and rabies.
Living With Beavers in the City of Burlington
Beavers can be found all over Ontario, most commonly in forests, and are protected and regulated by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Beavers may also expand into non-forested areas, where waterways are bordered by trees or shrubs. This can bring beavers into parks or green spaces created by people. The City of Burlington acknowledges the wildlife in our parks and natural areas and takes a balanced and humane approach in managing these properties.
The City of Burlington accepts that beavers are part of the natural environment and we do not engage in lethal trapping. While live trapping and relocating beavers is permitted under the Provincial Regulations, the release must be within one kilometre. Given that beavers are very territorial and will endeavour to return to their place of capture, permanent relocation is generally not possible or practical.
Subject to the location of beaver activity, an alternative strategy may be to wrap selected trees in a wire fabric for protection. Only in very extreme circumstances, where there exists a substantiated threat to public safety, would the city consider other measures to alleviate the issue.
More information on beavers can be found on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website at www.mnr.gov.on.ca.
A small number of bear sightings have been reported in semi-urban areas within Halton Region, specifically in Milton and Burlington. To learn about bears, how to prevent conflicts and what to do if you see a bear, visit Ontario's Bear Wise Program website. You can also call the Bear Reporting Line at 1-866-514-2327. In a life-threatening emergency, call your local police or dial 9-1-1.
Canada geese generally look for locations that are close to water, with plenty of food and shelter open enough for them to see approaching predators. Although Canada geese are not usually hostile, geese that have become used to humans can be aggressive.
To help keep geese away from your home or workplace, follow these simple tips:
- Do not feed them.
- Clean up seeds spilled from bird feeders.
- Mow your lawn less frequently or plant coarse grass seed.
- Use flashing lights, air horns, sirens or lengths of shiny or bright materials tied in trees or on stakes in the backyard to scare them off. Mix up the locations of these items as geese will become accustomed to them.
- Play a recording of coyotes or eagles or place models of coyotes and eagles in your yard to scare them.
For additional information, you can visit the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry or Environment Canada.
While usually associated with agricultural lands, woodlots or brushy areas, the Eastern Coyote can live in urban centres and developed areas. Coyotes do not hibernate and urban residents may catch glimpses of them, especially in the winter.
Since coyotes can be curious about human activity, it is important to keep them wary of people. To help keep coyotes away from your home, read some of our wildlife tips.
If a coyote approaches you:
- Stop. Pick up small children and pets, shout "GO AWAY" and wave your arms high in the air.
- Use hazing techniques, such as popping open an umbrella, throwing an object near the coyote or shaking your keys.
- Back away slowly. Never run or turn your back on a coyote.
- If you see an aggressive, sick or injured coyote call 905-335-3030. For all other coyote sightings, report it online.
Foxes have adapted well to city life and will continue to inhabit urban areas as long as food and shelter are plentiful and natural predators are limited. A healthy fox will not generally approach humans unless it has learned that humans supply food. Clap your hands or bang cans to discourage a fox from approaching
If you see a fox growling and attempting to attack people, larger animals or inanimate objects, call the Burlington Animal Shelter. Ensure other people and animals are safely away from the fox and if possible, observe the animal until the Animal Control officer arrives.
To deter foxes from your property:
- Enclose areas underneath patio decks, sheds and other potential den sites.
- To prevent the foxes from burrowing under these sites, dig a trench around the base of the structure and place galvanized heavy wire screening as a prevention skirt.
- In early spring, increase use and activity in back and side yards. Foxes will be less comfortable denning in areas with high human activity.
- Read some of our wildlife tips.
Large numbers of pigeons in one area can create unsanitary play conditions for children, accelerate the deterioration of buildings and vehicles, and spread fleas, ticks and mites. The best way to control pigeons is to remove food and shelter.
To discourage pigeons from coming to your property:
- Keep areas free of food and droppings.
- Repair broken windows and screens. Close off access to attics.
- Use wire mesh, plastic netting, pull-down blinds or a commercial barrier to keep pigeons off balconies or ledges. Many of these products are almost invisible, do not detract from a building's appearance and still allow you to use the balcony.
- Attach tin flashing to ledges, at an angle of at least 45 degrees, to discourage pigeons from landing.
- Secure stainless steel strips of needle like projections (commercially available) to the top of all potential landing sites.
- String thin, taught wire four centimetres above a roosting area to discourage birds from landing.
Rabies is a contagious and fatal disease. People can get rabies from infected pets, livestock and wildlife. The rabies virus is spread from one animal to another or from an animal to a human, by biting or by entering the body through the mouth, nose, eyes or a break in the skin. Symptoms can begin to show in an infected animal within two weeks or take as long as six months.
If you have been bitten or scratched by an animal with rabies, report the incident to a medical health officer immediately. Bites or close contact with an animal suspected of having rabies must be reported, by law, and a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.
If you believe your pet has been bitten or scratched by an animal with rabies:
- Don't handle your pet. There may be fresh saliva from a rabid animal on its coat.
- Isolate your pet.
- Contact the Burlington Animal Shelter, your local Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada office or your veterinarian.
- Pets bitten by a rabid animal are ordered into quarantine for a three or six-month period, depending on whether the animal has been vaccinated against the disease.
- A suspected animal should not be killed except in self-defence, the defence of other animals and people, or if it might escape.
- If the suspected animal is still responsive and manageable, it should be confined where other animals and humans cannot come in contact with it.
- Where an unmanageable, dangerous animal cannot be restrained or killed, it should be kept under observation and the Animal Control Shelter should be contacted as quickly as possible.
- If a suspected animal must be destroyed, try to avoid damaging the head. Brain tissue is important for an accurate lab diagnosis.