It’s been a long and tough winter so far, only two months into 2015. The snow was relentless and never ending for nearly a month. Temperatures plummeted. January and February saw a large mass of arctic air make it’s way south, keeping Connecticut below the freezing mark for weeks. Nights were typically around 0 degrees and multiple nights hit lows of -15 degrees here in the valley and in the northwest hills. Wildlife has, for the most part, temporarily sheltered in hard. Raccoons are making appearances only on the “warmer” nights, searching for food most likely. Beaver are stationary in their huts, feasting off their feed piles, as three feet of ice keep them from making many appearances to the surface. The uncrusted, deep snow hasn’t seemed to slow down the coyotes or the bobcats, yet, sign of fox on the move has tapered off since early January. Winter is certainly playing it’s best cards this year.
However, we are soon to turn the corner towards spring. With warmer temperatures in the near-term forecast, keep an eye out for an increase in wildlife activity. Not only will wild animals be on the move in search of food, but mid to late winter is prime breeding season. I do suspect that some breeding has been delayed due to the harsh winter weather, but nature always finds a way. Raccoons, skunks, squirrels, fox & coyote are in the prime of their natural mating and breeding habits as we speak. Beaver typically breed in January and February but, again, harsher winter conditions may have delayed even the roughest and toughest of the winter-ready beaver.
Breeding activity in some wild species is more visible than in others and you may not even know it. For example, have you ever noticed one squirrel chasing another in the middle of winter? They’re not playing. This is either a display of dominance between male squirrels or a male in search of a mate, chasing a female.
Does it seem like your yard starts to stink like skunk a bit come mid winter, every year? This isn’t simply a passing skunk. Females are looking for prime breeding locations, such as under a deck, shed, porch or steps. Many individual males may make an appearance over the coming weeks as they seek out female company and search for a mate. This season, skunks have been off to a slow start.
Raccoons may be on the move a bit more as well, braving the cold nights and even traveling during the day time. Young males are evicted from their dens as older, more mature males are in search of female company.
When the time is right, each and every year, the nuisance calls start to come in. Homeowners begin to have problems with animals entering their homes or properties throughout the mating season. Nuisance complaints will most certainly start to rack up once the females start searching for a suitable location to birth their young, finding comfortable places in attics and chimneys, for example. For now, keep an eye out for signs of wildlife love, as we are in the prime months of the breeding season in Connecticut.