There are many different opinions on wildlife. Some people despise them, some people adore them, and others are not entirely sure how they feel about them. I believe it is necessary to be educated on the subject before forming an opinion. In this article we will discuss native vs non-native animals, benefits of natural wildlife, and the proper way to remove unwanted wildlife(sometimes know as pests).
Different areas have different animals that are native, so make sure to look these species up for your specific area. An animal is considered native when it is naturally found in an ecosystem. It is considered non-native, or introduced, when its species’ presence is due to human inference. A species can be considered native in one area and introduced in another. Native animals help develop and maintain their natural ecosystems, and sometimes introduced species prevent them from doing so, even if it is not apparent at first glance. Introduced species often compete for food, resources, land, and will sometimes even kill natural species, disrupting the balance of an ecosystem. This is why animals from different places should never be released in random spots, like the iguanas or lionfish that have now taken over the Florida Everglades.
While it may not always be obvious, wildlife have many benefits to their environment. The examples I will be giving are animals native to south east Texas, so you may have to do a little extra research if you are not in this area. Animals that are frequently referred to as pests, like raccoons, opossums, squirrels, skunks, and even venomous snakes, do a lot to keep the natural world balanced.
One of the animals that we hear about being hurt or killed most often is the Common Raccoon, but they are amazing for our ecosystem! Even pest control websites will tell you that they do, in fact, help the environment. Raccoons eat many non-native pests, like wasp larvae, mice, and rats. They clean up the environment by eating carrion, also know as dead animals. They often help spread the seeds of plants either through their digestive systems or from sticking to their fur and falling off farther away. So, raccoons prevent overpopulation of some species and help others continue to live.
Another native animal, who sparks a lot of controversy, is the Virginia Opossum. Many people think they are ugly, mean, or scary, but they actually prefer running away or playing dead rather than attacking. Opossums have a low body temperature so they are immune to many common diseases, which means they help prevent the spread of some nasty zoonotic illnesses. They have the ability to eat venomous snakes, which are not bad for the environment but they may not be something you want in your backyard. Opossums eat ticks, preventing the spread of Lyme disease, and they love cockroaches. They are free pest control!
It can be hard to see past some of the things that wildlife may do to our own property, like going through our trash or living in our attics, but it is important to remember that we build our houses in the middle of their homes. We like to ask that you do not take their removal in to your own hands, whether it is a native animal or not! It can be dangerous or illegal to kill, move, or keep a particular species, even if it is in your home. ALWAYS call a legitimate agency, like Texas Parks and Wildlife or a local wildlife rehabilitator when you have a question about wildlife.
Please feel free to contact us through the Santa Fe Wildlife Rehabilitation page on Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We do NOT do wildlife removal but injured and orphaned wildlife can be brought to us, and if you send us a message we would be happy to answer any questions you may have!