The Harsh Realities Wildlife Face Every Spring

Now that spring is here, it’s time for Easton residents to prepare for the warmer weather. No more snowstorms, icy roads or snow boots — everyone hopes.

There might not appear to be much activity going on in the region when it comes to wildlife. But behind the scenes, many animals have come out of hibernation and are very active.

“We have more bears, bobcats and even more mountain lions,” said Joseph Schnierlein, vice president of land management at the Aspetuck Land Trust. “Many animals have learned to survive out of view from people.”

Wildlife is out and about and searching for food. The weather in the coming weeks will play a huge factor in determining the chances of livelihood for young offspring.

“Spring snowstorms in March and April can make it tough for young animals and nursing mothers to get food,” Schnierlein said.  “Also, spring floods can wipe out homes along rivers and streams.

“A lot of rain can drown young animals in nests on the ground if the ground is still frozen and the water sits on the surface. If an arctic cold mass comes down and hits young animals, they might freeze to death. There are a lot of factors that go into their survival.”

As the weather gets warmer, area residents will be taking their dogs on the trails. It is essential to leash their dogs, not only for their own safety but for the wellbeing of the wildlife around them. Off-leash dogs disturb native wildlife and endangered species.

The public may walk leashed dogs at Aspetuck Land Trust nature preserves except those specifically reserved as wildlife refuges. You can find out more about the dog policy here. This leash rule applies to the Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area (except for the blue/white, soon to be pink, off-leash trail) and all other Aspetuck Land Trust Preserves.

“If you notice at Trout Brook, the trail where dogs are allowed off leash, you rarely see any wildlife, whereas the other trails you have a better chance of seeing wildlife,” Schnierlein said. “Ground-nesting birds and animals are particularly vulnerable. And most people who walk their dogs off leash do not keep a constant eye on them, so in two or three seconds they can easily mouth a bird or young animal, and it is over.

“Also, especially in the spring, when vernal pools are filled with water and are loaded with eggs, having the dogs just running through them can crush the eggs or throw them out of the water,” said Schnierlein.

Wildlife in Crisis will present a virtual seminar on “Living Harmoniously with Wildlife” on Tuesday, March 23, from noon to 1 p.m. To find out more and reserve a spot, visit https://www.aspetucklandtrust.org/events/2021/3/23/living-harmoniously-with-wildlife-peter-reid-wildlife-in-crisis. This is a great way to learn how to ensure that the species in our area thrive.

Now go enjoy the beautiful nature parks that Easton and the region have to offer, but please be mindful of the wildlife whose homes you are in.

Below are several examples of animals captured on video in the wild by Aspetuck Land Trust trail cams.

A bear captured on camera.
A coyote carrying what appears to be a pup.
Another coyote captured on camera.
The camera captures a nursing fawn.
A family of wild turkeys is captured on camera.
A bobcat walks past the camera.
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