Guest blogger: Jennifer Chapman, Native Sisters Tree Service, Cert. Arborist/Tree Risk Assessor, Tree and nature lover.
There is nothing like waking up to the sound of sweet bird songs. That’s because living among nature has been proven to be good for us by reducing stress and making us healthier. Trees create this natural atmosphere and act as homes to the animals that inhabit it, creating a symbiotic relationship. They help each other to thrive and also happen to provide us with benefits.
Trees in urban areas provide multiple benefits: They are assets to our property, are aesthetically pleasing, provide shade, and house a variety of creatures. Thus “wildlife” can be part of what we expect when we have trees. For most people animals are a welcome addition to their environment. Watching and listening to the daily activities of our local wildlife can be an enjoyable and beneficial experience. For some, animals may be a concern. If we can learn to cohabitate with these animals and try to get along as neighbors, we can benefit from trees and the animals that call them home.
The most common animals in urban areas are birds, squirrels, raccoons, rodents, insects, and bees. Some of these animals are more attractive to us for obvious reasons, and there are certain measures we can take to reduce the impact of those creatures that are less attractive:
- Tree branches within close proximity to buildings can be trimmed away or brought to upright leads in order to keep animals from jumping onto rooftops.
- Tree or trunk barriers can be installed to keep certain animals such as raccoons and rodents from climbing up the tree in the first place.
- Sprays or insecticides can be used to control particular insects that damage foliage, or cause damage to our homes. This should only be done when necessary and only by a licensed pesticide applicator.
- Most cities have a local SPCA or wildlife rehabilitation center which is available to assist with the relocation/rehabilitation of animals when needed.
Animals do not have to be considered problematic in or around our trees, they only need to be monitored and handled appropriately. Trees require ongoing maintenance, and care should be taken to avoid disturbing or destroying animal habitats as much as possible. It is important for all tree workers and arborists to be aware of any wildlife residing in trees before tree work begins. Professionals in this industry should to be conscious of things such as established bee colonies, nesting bird season, baby animals born in spring, and older trees that may serve as an established habitat. Sometimes encounters are accidental and cannot be avoided, but in these situations professional help should be enlisted. Your local tree service or arborist can provide information and education about the animals that may be residing in the trees surrounding your home.
Trees and animals are a part of our everyday lives and care should be taken to respect and protect the natural wonders. Awareness, education and choosing professionally qualified personal are crucial in the relationships between people and animals. Appropriate measures can be taken to manage our trees, without eliminating the animals that reside in them. Making educated decisions will help us to ensure the longevity of a healthy environment, and to sustain the on going relationship between ourselves, trees, and animals.
Just a thought…
In my profession I am grateful to have had several experiences and close encounters with trees and animals. I have successfully raised and released six squirrels. Baby squirrels require bottle-feeding every three hours, and their environment must remain at 97 degrees at all times. It was challenging to say the least, but very rewarding. Through this experience I was able to educate my children to the importance of preserving and caring for trees and animals. I was also invited to share with other children in my local school district, and kindergarteners love baby squirrels!
My other animal encounter involved relocating two baby great horned owls after their tree was removed. Through the wonderful efforts of my local SPCA, we rehomed these owls by making a new nest and securing it in an adjacent tree. Luckily, the mother came back, accepted her young, and the mission was successful! Had the mother not returned, the babies would have lived in captivity for the remainder of their natural lives. I am so thankful to have had these experiences with trees and animals, and continue to share and educate people about the importance of these relationships.