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Frequently asked questions about
Making shelters for wild animals

Q: Doesn't nature provide all the shelter that animals need?

A: No. It never did, and now there is less shelter than ever as more of our planet is developed into shopping centers, parking lots, roads, businesses, and homes.


Q: If animals need shelter, why can't they make their own?

A: Most animals are resourceful enough to take advantage of a shelter they find, but many do not have the mental and physical abilities required to plan and build a shelter.


Q: Do wild animals really suffer in the wintertime, or during other periods of inclement weather?

A: Yes. It's a fact that some animals die during cold weather. It is also a fact that the available evidence and common sense indicates that animals do feel discomfort and pain. Fur does not insulate any better on an animal than when it is on you. If you wore a fur coat when it was bitterly cold outside, you would likely feel cold within minutes. Now imagine what it would be like to endure weeks or months of such weather. Even if you survived, you would be miserable. The countenance (facial expressions) of wild animals cannot communicate emotions as human faces can, so animals may not look uncomfortable even when they are suffering.


Q: Is it better to build one large brush pile as an animal shelter, or several smaller ones?

A: Several smaller ones, because wild animals need space as a buffer zone. However, if aesthetic or space limitations require you to build one larger brush pile, the animals will colonize the pile in such a way that they have the required buffer zone. For example, in the large brush pile shown earlier in this site, the resident animals spaced themselves out about every 15 feet. If possible, build two to four brush piles per acre, locating each at least 100 feet from its closest neighbor.


Q: What if I live in a city or suburb and can't make a brush pile?

A: Take a drive to the country and ask a land owner if you can gather their brush into a pile. polled various land owners, and all said that they would welcome someone offering to do this for free.


Q: Can I make a brush pile on state or federal land?

A: Yes, if you obtain approval from the appropriate authorities. They will likely be thrilled that someone is motivated and caring enough to help wild animals, but bureaucratic rigidity may not permit any land improvement, even if it helps animals and does nothing but redistribute dead branches lying on the ground.


Q: If I am a homeowner, can I assume that I have the right to make a brush pile on my property?

A: You may, but it is always a good idea to first discuss this with any neighbors who may see the brush pile. Some people who would otherwise object to a brush pile may change their opinion when they learn that you are doing it to help wild animals. You may also need the approval of local authorities or your homeowners' association, because some have covenants that restrict how you can use your land. If needed, camouflage the brush pile by surrounding it with wildflowers.


Remember: Brush piles are flammable, so do not situate them near buildings. Also, do not locate brush piles adjacent to gardens unless you don't mind sharing your vegetables with the animals! Because brush piles may conceal predators, do not place them near bird feeders.




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