POWELL, Ohio (WCMH) – Wildlife advocates say spring-like weather in Central Ohio is disrupting animals’ typical winter behaviors.
With weeks of above-average temperatures, the Ohio Wildlife Center is noticing a change in hibernation and mating habits, as well as the appearance of diseases usually more common in spring and summer.
“These animals can’t adapt quick enough to these temperature changes we’re seeing right here in Central Ohio,” said Stormy Gibson, the assistant executive director of the Ohio Wildlife Center.
Gibson explained animals, like amphibians and reptiles, who rely on cold temperatures to slow their metabolism for hibernation are waking up and struggling to find food sources that would be more readily available in the spring.
Yo-yoing highs and lows are also affecting a variety of wildlife.
“We haven’t had cold weather, so these animals are coming out,” she said. “They’re coming out of their nests, they’re coming out of their dens. And then there’s warm temperatures, there’s no food… and then we’re seeing temperatures with 10 or 15 degree changes within one day.”
Under average circumstances, Gibson explained, many animals would be hibernating or conserving energy by late December.
Instead, wildlife rehabilitators are reporting more songbirds, normally dormant animals stirring and a spring-like boom in new offspring.
“We’re seeing mating behaviors even with some of our mammals, baby birds coming into our wildlife hospital, baby reptiles and babies that are super skinny, that haven’t been able to survive and really do what they do in the winter time,” she said. “If it does get cold, these babies are going to have a really hard time surviving.”
The organization and its volunteers are rescuing more stranded animals and encourage humans to look for signs of distress.
“Injuries, sickness, illness, not moving away from humans, not showing normal behavior signs… those are things we really are concerned about,” Gibson explained.
She said it’s best to contact a trained wildlife professional if you find a suspected injured, sick or orphaned wild animal.
You can contact the Ohio Wildlife Center’s automated Wildlife Information Line: 614-793-9453.
Another option is to send a message and a photo, if possible, to the Rescue and Response Team Facebook page by clicking here.