5Ws+1H: How It's Done: Winter calls for ways to help animals – Tahlequah Daily Press

A clear sky. Low 42F. Winds light and variable..
A clear sky. Low 42F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: October 26, 2022 @ 4:12 pm
During the colder months, domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, and horses, should be provided a structure with bedding to help keep them warm.

During the colder months, domestic animals, such as dogs, cats, and horses, should be provided a structure with bedding to help keep them warm.
As the shift to colder air takes place, individuals should be wary of how they help both wild and domestic animals.
Sierra Coon, a recreation coordinator at Sequoyah State Park, said individuals can set out food, but should only do it for birds and squirrels. When feeding birds, squirrels, or domestic animals, she said, the food should contain a higher fat content.
“I don’t recommend feeding wildlife because all you’re doing is making that animal become reliant upon humans, and oftentimes they unintentionally imprint on humans,” said Coon.
If an animal does imprint on an individual, she said, a game warden may have to remove the animal, since it may not want to leave or can become dependent on its new food source.
“For different species, it really varies. For instance, we have a red fox [at Three Forks Nature Center]. It was a wild fox and people fed it and it imprinted on humans,” said Coon. “We can’t have that. It had to be removed and taken into a rehab facility where it was deemed non-releasable due to imprinting.”
Providing water can also be done, but Coon only recommends doing that during a drought.
“You could always [provide water] as long as you’re not doing anything to make them come and stay because water sources dry up,” said Coon. “So if a water source is magically gone, they’ll move on. Now they’ll associate an area with food sources and try to stick around.”
Coon said most species can normally find their own food and water sources, and are able to adapt to the environment without help from outsiders.
She said domestic animals should always be provided with shelters, but for ones that are undomesticated, people should air on the side of caution.
Coon said anyone providing a shelter for wildlife should make sure it is in an area not close to humans and is only being used if there are no other options for shelter.
When creating a structure for a domestic animal, she said, heat lamps with guards can be used only if they can be monitored within a space of at least 3 to 4 feet. To decrease the likelihood of any bedding catching on fire, fibrous material should not be used.
Coon said a structure does not need to be large to keep an animal warm, and only needs one entryway so heat won’t be lost.
“The bigger the space, the harder it is to warm up. So something that is more suited for your animal’s body size,” said Coon. “They just have to have enough room to get in and turn around.”
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