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College citizens who are unfamiliar with the normal habits of wildlife may sometimes attempt to make friends. Staff and students pet a motionless nesting duck near Job Hall, not realizing she is frozen in alarm rather than welcoming, and may now abandon her nest. A student feeds a woodchuck near Tallcott Hall, who then tags happily along after admissions tours, raising concerns about rabies. Adults toss treats to a large Canada goose at the Chapel pond and later it charges up to a small toddler and knocks her down.
Wild animals on campus are perfectly natural and welcome, until humans teach them behaviors that put them in jeopardy. Do not feed the wild animals, nor attempt to approach them closely. While relocation of "problem" wildlife is sometimes an option, it reduces their chances of survival and may leave young animals orphaned if their mother is taken away. The best solution is prevention.
For the first time, there are Canada geese nesting at the Chapel Pond. Geese in particular are problem-free if left wild, but become an expensive and controversial issue if tamed. Geese hand-fed on our campus may be the geese killed as damage-causing nuisances elsewhere when they refuse to be chased away from a golf course or athletic field this fall. Give these animals a chance for a long and safe life. Leave them alone.
If you see an animal in distress or have a concern about wildlife damage, contact Public Safety at 911 from campus phones, or 274-3333 from cell phones. Arrangements have already been made for Public Safety or wildlife personnel to respond to help small raccoons that need a boost out of dumpsters or ducklings stuck in storm drains.
As you travel and work on campus, especially while running or biking in the evening, keep in mind that skunks, raccoons, and deer may share your path. Speak up so they see you, then step aside or take another path to give them the room they need to remain wild.
Contributed by Susan Greene