Be on the lookout as wildlife springs to life

Now that spring has sprung, Western Australia’s native wildlife is on the move, many with new babies.

With animal activity on the increase, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is reminding people to be on the lookout for swooping magpies, snakes and baby wildlife such as chicks and ducklings.

Wildlife officer Karen Smith said the warmer spring weather was usually when magpies became more territorial.

“Swooping magpies can sometimes be intimidating but they often swoop to protect their eggs or chicks from any potential threats,” she said.

“It’s recommended people avoid the site where magpies are known to swoop and try not to provoke or harass the bird, however if moving through the area is unavoidable, wear a broad- brimmed hat and carry an umbrella.

“If you confidently continue on your way, the bird will often retreat to a tree. Wearing sunglasses may also help protect the eyes, but do not look up if being swooped as this could result in an injury to the face or eyes.

“If you are swooped while riding a bike, consider dismounting and walking through the area.”

Ms Smith also advised people who find young birds on the ground not to pick them up, as this may result in the nestlings having to be hand reared. Parent birds do not generally abandon their young and will in most cases continue to feed and protect them even when they have left the nest prematurely.

Also during this time of year, ducks and their ducklings have begun to leave their nests in search of the nearest wetlands and people are reminded to be aware of duck families moving around and remain cautious on roads and cycle paths near water bodies.

Reptiles will also begin emerging over the coming months and will be actively looking for food, water and patches of warm sun to bask in.

“We recommend people take extra care when venturing outdoors, particularly near swamps, lakes and bushland,” Ms Smith said.

“A snake that feels threatened may hiss or rear up and the best thing a person can do is back

away slowly and keep watching it. Do not attempt to handle or kill snakes as these actions may result in a bite.”

“Snakes will normally try to avoid humans, but it is best to be aware and take precautions such as wearing long pants and enclosed shoes while walking along bush trails.”

Dog owners were also urged to be particularly careful when walking their pets near wetlands and bushland as dogs rarely survive a venomous snake bite.

On the south coast, marine life also becomes more noticeable with Australian sea lions and long nosed fur seal pups often seen this time of year on Esperance beaches, particularly following periods of large swells and rough seas.

Ms Smith said seals and sea lions came ashore to rest and should be left alone.

If you are concerned about swooping magpies in your area or the welfare of a native animal contact the department’s Wildcare Helpline on 9474 9055.

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