Heat and Fires Push Wildlife Closer to Human Habitats

Heat waves and wildfires, recently more common in Oregon, are altering wildlife habitats to the point where animals are being forced closer to people-inhabited areas, even increasing the possibility of encountering pets. While aiding these animals by providing fresh water daily — such as in a bird bath — to prevent them from overheating is strongly advised, feeding them is not.  

Sally Compton of Think Wild, a Bend-based wildlife advocacy non-profit, urges people not to approach wildlife wandering into neighborhoods for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they may carry ticks or be a source of disease, and secondly, they may attack if they feel threatened or are injured.  

Summer is also birth time for many, so animal parents may relocate their offspring in the vicinity of human houses for safety. That is especially true for homes located near forests.  

“And so we really want to encourage you to keep cats and dogs indoors or on a leash, just so they don’t find those babies,” Compton said to KLCC viewers. So for the safety of both your pet and the wild animal, we just want to prevent that from happening.” 

If an animal appears injured, a call to a local rescue or a nearby wildlife hospital may be lifesaving. In Benton and Linn Counties, the nearest facility is Chintimini Wildlife Center on Lewisburg Road in Corvallis. The hospital admits patients Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; they can be contacted at 541-745-5324. Compton advised that people who want to help may consider donating money and supplies to their local wildlife hospitals as well. 

Pauline Baker, Director of Wildlife Rehabilitation at Think Wild, advised KTVZ viewers, “If you find an animal that has been burnt and are waiting to get in contact with a wildlife hospital or vet, do not feed it. Wrap it loosely in 100% cotton and place it in a well-ventilated box in a dark and quiet place.” Caution, however, must be exercised. 

By Joanna Rosińska