Rehabilitation & Education Expert Talks Coexisting With Wildlife In Bucks County

What you need to know about the wildlife in your neighborhood.

Leah Stallings with Harry, a rescued owl. Credit: County of Bucks

With warmer weather leading to more wildlife activity, Leah Stallings, executive director of the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in New Britain Township, addressed the Bucks County Commissioners this month to discuss wildlife safety and interaction protocols.

Stallings emphasized the importance of coexisting peacefully with wildlife and calling experts when help is needed.

“We help people live in harmony with their wild neighbors,” she said.

As encounters with injured animals or nests become more common, Stallings advised the public to refrain from intervening without guidance.

“Make sure you’re safe and make sure you have a plan before you go in,” Stallings said.

She stressed the risks of disturbing wildlife, including rabies, which can be fatal if not treated.

“Rabies is a health risk. We have a rabies problem in Pennsylvania and it’s pretty endemic in the community. Saliva contact of any kind is not a good thing,” Stallings said.

Residents noticing raccoons should be especially cautious.

“It’s breeding season for raccoons, and if people trap them and remove them, it’s likely there are babies left behind,” Stallings said.

She recommended maintaining a distance and calling a professional.

Stallings also addressed the handling of common wildlife scenarios:

  • Baby birds: Call Aark for advice before touching any nests to avoid issues with mites and parasites.
  • Baby rabbits: If found, cover the nest and leave it be, because mother rabbits only feed their young twice a day. Healthy baby rabbits are “fat and round.”
  • Fawns: Avoid touching, as mothers often leave their young temporarily hidden in safe spots before returning. The mother can leave multiple fawns in different places as she cares for them.

Furthermore, Stallings warned against the hazards of handling wildlife, even small animals like baby squirrels, which can bite and cause injuries.

She advised contacting professionals before attempting to remove animals, like squirrels in attics. She said if you have them in your house in spring that’s a likely a sign of nesting babies.

“Don’t be kissing them. Ever,” she said of any animals found outside.

For those dealing with groundhogs or other animals nesting in inconvenient locations, such as under sheds, Stallings recommended using real or synthetic coyote urine, which can be purchased online.

“Coyotes are the apex predators of the area, and every animal that can smell knows the smell of coyote urine instinctively and knows it will eat them,” she explained.

During her presentation to the commissioners, Stallings brought along Harry, an eastern screech owl who became an educational ambassador for the Aark after losing his left eye in a car accident.

“Harry gets to be an ambassador for the Aark,” Stallings said, noting the center’s role in both wildlife care and education.

Stallings urged the community to contact Aark or similar organizations when encountering wildlife to ensure that both human and animal safety are preserved.

For more information about the Aark Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center, visit their website.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for 12 years for both newspaper and online publications. Tom’s reporting has appeared locally, nationally, and internationally across several mediums. He is proud to report on news in the county where he lives and to have created a reliable publication that the community deserves.