Otters in Urbana??

Each year, we care for more than 100 different species in the Wildlife Medical Clinic, which is one of the most interesting aspects of volunteering there! While we can count on some species to always make an appearance (we’re looking at you, Eastern cottontails), others only make an occasional visit. A phenomenal example of these animals is the otter. YES – we are home to North American river otters in Champaign county. These unique and sleek little guys have so many amazing adaptations that make them simultaneously efficient predators, stealthy swimmers, and adorable fuzz-balls. River otters grow to be about 2 feet long and weigh up to 20 pounds. Their smaller size and aerodynamic design help them to swim easily and quickly through the water. Otters are carnivorous mammals, with most meals consisting of fish, frogs, turtles, or small mammals that they catch in their paws.

Did you know that otters were listed as threatened in the 1970’s? A combination of habitat destruction, pollution, and over-trapping for the fur industry decimated the Illinois otter population. At one point, it was likely that there were fewer than 100 otters left in the entire state. Luckily, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) took initiative and created a recovery plan in the 1990’s in a successful effort to repopulate the state. By 2009, Southern Illinois University estimated that there were ~8,400 otters in Illinois, with projections of a population over 30,000 in the years following! Another aspect that assisted the increase in otter population is the increase in beaver dams. As new laws have been introduced to decrease the pollution in Illinois waterways, the beaver population has increased. Beaver dams make great habitats for otters to live in, so these population growths went hand-in-hand! Due to the amazing efforts to help the otter population, every county in Illinois is once again home to North American river otters. Continue reading

Tips on Keeping Critters Out This Winter

Tips on Keeping Critters Out This Winter

The Wildlife Medical Clinic at Illinois shares tips on keeping critters out this winter.• Wildlife tend to start finding places for the winter as the weather is turning colder, which could mean more chances for them to come into someone's house, garage, or barn• Preventing rodent entry from the start & minimize/eliminate rodent bait & glue traps when possible is idealo avoids ingestion of the bait but unintended species, pets, or children• Remove food sources (trash bags, bird feeders, etc) & keep garbage cans closed to decrease animal interest in the spaces; feed your pets inside/raised off the ground when possible to minimize food access for wildlife; clean grill regularly & don't put food scraps in the garden, secure & cover any compost• Identify & seal shut any potential entry holes, especially leading to your attic, garage, or basement; repair damaged vent screens or install vent covers where possible• Wildlife trappers exist & can help remove an unwanted wild animal from a human living space if they have an unwanted guest for the holidays

Posted by ciLiving.tv on Wednesday, November 13, 2019

This November, Wildlife Medical Clinic Director Dr. Sander and third-year veterinary student Ally brought our ambassador ball python, Bucket, with them to visit ciLiving and chat about the different ways wild animals make it through cold Illinois winters. Here are some tips from the video:

  • Wildlife tend to start finding places for the winter as the weather is turning colder, which could mean more chances for them to come into someone’s house, garage, or barn
  • Preventing rodent entry from the start & minimize/eliminate rodent bait & glue traps when possible is ideal
    • This avoids ingestion of the bait but unintended species, pets, or children.
  • Remove food sources (trash bags, bird feeders, etc) & keep garbage cans closed to decrease animal interest in the spaces; feed your pets inside/raised off the ground when possible to minimize food access for wildlife; clean grill regularly & don’t put food scraps in the garden, secure & cover any compost
  • Identify & seal shut any potential entry holes, especially leading to your attic, garage, or basement; repair damaged vent screens or install vent covers where possible
  • Wildlife trappers exist & can help remove an unwanted wild animal from a human living situations