With the winter weather returning, folks can expect critters to return to public park spaces and residential areas. 

Animals like deer, pronghorns, and various smaller wild inhabitants usually avoid towns and cities. However, once the winter comes, city parks and green spaces, along with backyards become excellent shelters from the harsher elements. 

Speaking on how to safely deal and interact with these animals is Leanne Heisler, the wildlife ecologist for Swift Current and the area. Firstly, she warns that the first ones to arrive will do so by air. 

"You'll see some forest birds coming down," said Heisler. "So lots of birds moving from the North to the South trying to escape the cold weather up here."

Folks will be able to spot Bluejays, Woodpeckers, and other avians migrating south if they are sharp-eyed. 

Later, the bigger animals seeking better habitats will be sneaking into golf courses and other green zones. 

"Deer might be moving back into town where there are nice easy shrubs and stuff for them to chew on," said Heisler. 

When these larger animals start to settle into the city, it will be important to ensure they have minimal contact with humans. Deer and antelope might seem friendly, but they are very much wild animals. What can start as a friendly interaction can turn into a fight or flight response from the animal, leading to possible injury. 

Feeding these cervids may seem like a kind thing to do, but can prove detrimental to their health in the long term.

"If you feed them 'people' food, like apples, they get used to eating that and they start to prefer that over other things," said Heisler. "They may actually search that stuff out more than they would their natural foods, which would draw them into town further."

It can also instill in them that they can approach people for food, which is bad for any wild animal. 

Folks looking to protect their yards from animals looking to snack on their curated shrubbery can put up fencing coverings. Should an animal end up stuck in the yard, it's best to leave an exit for the animal to find it's own way out rather than trying to directly assist it. If it still refuses to leave, it the homeowner may need to contact animal services to come and extract the critter. 


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