Halloween Safety for Wildlife

The spookiest night of the year is coming soon! While we here at Wildlife Rescue are big fans of all things that go bump in the night, we’d like to take a moment to help you make sure your moonlit rituals, haunted houses and sunken crypts are as safe for wildlife as possible!

Artificial Spider Webs
While artificial spider webs are a great way to add some creepy ambiance, they are a major hazard for wildlife. Every year we take in animals who have been entangled in these decorations. Sadly, many people discover these trapped birds, bats and squirrels when they are taking decorations down after Halloween and by that time it’s often far too late.

  • If you’d like to use fake spider webs in your Halloween display, we suggest placing them inside your windows rather than anywhere outdoors.

It’s not Halloween without Trick or Treating! Unfortunately chocolate and other things we humans find delicious are deadly to pets and wildlife, plus individually wrapped treats leave a lot of waste behind that can seriously injure animals.

  • It can be hard but wait to start eating treats until you get home and can properly dispose of any wrappers!
  • If you leave a bowl of treats outside, make sure to cover it with a lid to keep animals out.

Carving a Jack o’ Lantern is a favourite activity for a lot of people to celebrate Halloween. A lot of hard work goes in to making those creepy grins. However, pumpkins can be a temptingly tasty treat for wildlife like deer or racoons. It might be tempting to try and dissuade animals from eating your pumpkins with chemicals or other deterrents, but this often leads to animals becoming seriously ill.

  • If you’re worried about animals eating your pumpkins rather than attempt a deterrent we suggest waiting until October 31st to put them out. That way they’ll be there for your spooky display, and if they get eaten the next night you won’t have to throw them in the compost anyways!

Fireworks are loud, disruptive and frightening to pets and wild animals alike. Not only that but launching them into the air can seriously injure or even kill flying birds and bats. Even the most diligent fireworks operator likely won’t be able to clean up all the refuse left behind from a fireworks display, and a lot of trash can be left behind for animals to find.

Going Batty on All Hallow’s Eve

Here’s a fun idea for an event thanks to BC Bats. Organize a bat count! When the sun goes down bat activity is at its highest. Take yourself, your kids, some friends and your trick or treating candy to a quiet area near a bat roost and start counting!

  • Arrive at your bat roost at sunset (bats will begin to emerge at dusk).
  • The air temperature should be at least 12 deg (C) with no rain and low wind speed.
  • Sit or stand outside so that the bats’ exit point is visible from a comfortable distance. More than one person might be needed if bats are exiting from multiple points.
  • Tally the bats as they fly out for their nightly insect-eating. Use a counting app on your phone or a hand “clicker” to make counting easy.
  • Do not enter bat roosts and never handle a live bat.
  • Please respect private property. Ask permission if the bat roost is on someone else’s property.
  • You can find more information about bat counting at BC Bats website here: Counting bats – BC BATS

HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) Statement

To our valued Wildlife Rescue supporters,

As you may already know, cases of HPAI (Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza) have been detected in BC. We want to let you know that Wildlife Rescue Association is aware of this risk and has taken action to keep staff, volunteers, and our feathered patients safe. We are continuing to monitor this situation, following the guidance of the Public Health Agency of Canada, and will adapt as needed to ensure the highest level of safety is assured.

For the most current guidance regarding wild birds, bird feeders, caring for domestic birds, and reporting sick or dead birds—please visit the official Government of Canada website at the link below.

Wildlife Rescue Association is not responsible for the surveillance of Avian Influenza in Canada. For the most up-to-date reports and information on the status of HPAI in Canada, please refer to the Government of Canada website at the link below.

Thank you for your continued support of our wildlife patients at this time!


Regarding bird feeders

To feed or not to feed?

Current research suggests that well-maintained bird feeders and hummingbird feeders are low-risk, but not no-risk, for transmitting many diseases including this virus. If you choose to keep a bird feeder or hummingbird feeder, please remember that this is an important responsibility. Clean and maintain your bird feeders regularly to ensure the safety and wellbeing of wildlife now, and year-round.

Backyard bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, and baths should be cleaned regularly using a weak solution of domestic bleach (10% sodium hypochlorite). Ensure they are well rinsed and completely dried before re-use. If you are not able to diligently maintain and clean your bird feeder, please consider removing it for the safety of your wildlife visitors.

Please note, this situation is evolving and this guidance may change. Always refer to the official Government of Canada website for the most current official guidance.

Additional information regarding bird feeders and bird baths is being provided by the BC SPCA.

Their advice is an extra step you can take to support wildlife in BC. For more information about this step, please refer to the BC SPCA website at the link below.

For the most current information and official guidance regarding this evolving situation, please always refer to the Government of Canada’s Avian Influenza Surveillance

Mallard Duckling Season FAQ

Unlike songbirds, baby ducks and geese leave the nest almost immediately after birth, and will follow their mom closely. They already know how to find their own food, but still need their families for warmth and protection. Baby ducks and geese can go in water briefly, but because their feathers are not yet waterproof, they can quickly become hypothermic (chilled) if they remain in the water more than a few minutes. If you find a baby duck or goose alone, it is almost certainly just separated from its family.

  • If the baby is separated from the mother and you know where she is, place the baby close to the flock so she can hear the baby and then watch from a distance to ensure they are reunited.
  • If the baby joins the flock and the mother does not reject him, leave the area, the baby is fine.
  • If the baby is rejected, or if the mother cannot be found, call Wildlife Rescue’s Support Centre at (604) 526-7275 or email

I have found a bunch of eggs on the ground, what should I do?

The ducklings have just hatched! How long will they stay there?

I have found ducklings alone! What do I do?

Babies are in my pool and cannot get out. What do I do?

How can I prevent ducks from entering my pool?

Can I relocate a family of ducks from my yard?

Ducks are nesting on my roof, what should I do?

Can I feed the ducks?

There is a family of ducks crossing the road! How can I help?

There is a family of ducks on the highway! How can I help?

I have found a bunch of eggs on the ground, what should I do?

If you find a Mallard nest with only a few eggs in it, allow the mother to finish laying all of her eggs (typically 12-13 total). Mallards lay one egg a day, so this will take up to 12-13 days. She will not start incubating her eggs (laying on them) until all eggs are laid, so finding a nest with only three or four eggs and no mother duck does not mean that the nest is abandoned. 

If something does happen to the unfinished clutch of eggs, Mallard hens will make another attempt until they raise a successful brood. 

Once all eggs are laid, she will rarely leave the nest apart from short breaks to feed and stretch her legs. About 28 days later the eggs hatch together. This takes about 24 hours. 

Mallard eggs are unmarked creamy to grayish or greenish buff. There are typically 12-13 eggs per clutch. 

Photo Credit: USFWS:

The ducklings have just hatched! How long will they stay there?

Once hatched, the ducklings will stay in the nest for at least 10 hours while they dry and get used to using their legs. Then, usually in the early morning, the female leads them to water. Bad weather may delay this, but the sooner the ducklings get to water to feed, the better their chances of survival. They cannot survive without their mother, and take 50-60 days before they fledge and become independent.  

I have found ducklings alone! What do I do?

The mother duck may have been spooked away and has not returned. Keep the babies protected and wait from a nearby location to see if the mother returns. She will usually return within a half-hour if the area has become quiet again and the threat is gone. She is very protective of her babies and will not go far or stay away for very long. If the mother does not return to her babies within 1-hour, the ducklings should be rescued and brought to Wildlife Rescue. 

Babies are in my pool and cannot get out. What do I do?

Hypothermia will result if babies are in a pool for more than a few minutes. Mother will stay in the pool with them (to protect them) if they cannot get out and it appears as if she is voluntarily allowing them to swim. She will exit the pool as soon as the babies are given a means to get out of the water. Be sure to screen skimmer or filter openings that may trap helpless ducklings with suction. 

  • Raise the water level – Raise the water level by putting hoses into the pool. Once the water is level with the side of the pool, the ducklings should be able to hop out on their own. 
  • Build a ramp – Make a ramp for the babies climb out on. This can be a flutterboard or outdoor cushion secured to the side of the pool. If you use a board or piece of wood, secure an empty pop bottle to the bottom of one end to make sure it floats. Back off and give the ducklings some time. It may take them a while to figure out how the ramp works. 
  • Only as a last resort – Pool skimmers or nets should only be used as a last resort – ducklings will dive to avoid them, and as they get more stressed and tired, they can drown. It’s better to give them the means to leave on their own time.

How can I prevent ducks from entering my pool?

Pool covers are an effective control for uninvited pool guests. They are also safer for other wildlife (baby birds) that may fall into it. Other measure to discourage ducks from pools include; floating alligators or beach balls (they must be moving continuously); sensor sprinklers or sprayers strategically placed; monofilament barriers (installed by professionals); music, radio or strobe lights activated by sensors. Some professional companies specialize in exclusion devices for wildlife.  

Can I relocate a family of ducks from my yard?

Mallard ducks are federally protected, so moving the nest is illegal without a permit. It is unlawful for any person to capture, possess or relocate ducks (and other migratory birds) except by permit. We encourage you to let the ducks finish nesting. After the ducklings hatch and the family moves on, you can put up deterrents to prevent them from nesting there again. 

Ducks are nesting on my roof, what should I do?

Ducklings/ goslings can safely jump to the ground from buildings that are less than 2 stories high and if there is no barrier/edge higher than 12cm. If a family of ducks have nested on a building that is taller than 2 stories and/or there is a barrier higher than 12 cm it is best to contact Wildlife Rescue’s helpline, (604) 526-7275. Wildlife Rescue has trained volunteers that can help with these rescues. Mother Mallards may not return to their ducklings if stressed so it is important to contact Wildlife Rescue first before attempting capture. 

Can I feed the ducks?

It’s normal for a female mallard not to eat for the entire incubation period – she fattens up beforehand to prepare. Leaving food or water out for the duck will only attract predators like raccoons or opossums, putting the nest in danger. Once the ducklings have hatched, feeding them unnatural food like bread can cause problems with their growing bones and feathers. 

There is a family of ducks crossing the road! How can I help?

Always consider human safety first– never put yourself or other people in danger to help a family of ducks cross a road. You can help by waving at drivers to alert them to the birds. Ask passersby with pets or children to keep back. Keep a safe distance, and try to gently steer the birds in the direction of the closest pond, stream, river, or lake. 

It may seem like a good idea in these situations to try to catch the family and move them to a safe spot, but this risks scaring off the mother and scattering the babies. 

Remember that crossing roads is a fact of life for urban wild animals, and one of many skills babies need to learn from their parents. 

There is a family of ducks on the highway! How can I help?

Some rescues are best left to the experts, and duck families on multi-lane highways with barriers and heavy traffic may need help. Please contact the non-emergency police line to ask for assistance.

Arctic Outflow Impacts Hummingbirds

The Arctic outflow has impacted wildlife dramatically this season! With a record-breaking drop in temperature across the Lower Mainland, hummingbirds are coming into Wildlife Rescue Association (WRA) in record numbers with cold-induced injuries.

Hummingbirds a Frequent Sight in the Winter!

Hummingbirds – a crowd favourite, miniature acrobats that dart and dip, hunting for high-energy foods.

Although these tiny birds weigh less than a loonie (averaging between 3 and 6 grams), hummingbirds need to be almost constantly eating. Hummingbirds flap their wings 50 times or more per second in order to maintain their signature hovering flight. Undoubtedly, this requires an immense amount of energy. In order to fuel their flight, hummingbirds consume half their body weight in pure sugar every day!

Common Nighthawk and How to Help!

Known to be special birds that spend much of their time in certain parts of British Columbia, Nighthawks are essential to our environment. Even though they might not be easy to find much of the time due to nocturnal habits, these birds contribute so much to our ecosystem. Unfortunately, they also need our help. Studies by the North American Breeding Bird Survey have revealed that Common Nighthawk populations decline at the rate of 4% a year in Canada, populations going through a steep annual decline since the 60s. 

Protect Local Wildlife from Window Strikes

Every year, billions of birds migrate across North America. Herons, Sandpipers, Cranes, and even hummingbirds all migrate to escape cold Canada’s winters bring. Unfortunately, many of their journeys have been disrupted by the wreckage from wildfires, forcing them to take new routes in unfamiliar territory. With the new territory comes new dangers – electrical wires, tall glass buildings, fatigue, and more.  

Entanglement and Osprey

Known for their technique of diving for fish feet-first, Ospreys are a majestic sight in the lower mainland where they inhabit lakes, rivers, and ponds.  Unfortunately, entanglement is a large problem for these birds. When fishing lines and other materials are not properly disposed of, birds will use them as supplies for their nests – leading to entanglement. When these large birds get trapped in twine, they can no longer hunt fish or provide for their young.  

The Spotted Sandpiper

Found in freshwater areas such as rivers and streams, Spotted Sandpipers typically nest close to the shore. Unfortunately, this reliance on coastlines has led to many problems for these birds – especially when chemicals are dumped into the water. 

The usage of pesticides and other chemicals may seem harmless – but when these substances float downstream, they can create large problems for local wildlife. Chemicals like pesticides can deplete resources, making it harder and harder for wildlife like Spotted Sandpipers to find the food they need. As well, the digestion of pesticides can lead to wildlife having a difficult time reproducing and can even lead to baby birds being born with deficiencies. 

Birds, Bees and Heat Exhaustion

Essential to our environment, birds and bees are valuable contributors to our ecosystem. In fact, both species pollinate native British Columbian plants, flowers, and fruits while maintaining local plant diversity. With wild bee species declining at an alarming rate, it is no surprise that eight wild bee species are on Canada’s species risk registry, with three considered endangered after a large population loss. The recent heatwave and ongoing wildfires have created a hostile environment for wildlife, and already unstable species (like many birds and bees) are suffering because of this.