Kentucky wildlife officials are concerned about the ecosystem of the Louisville Nature Center and Beargrass Creek State Nature Preserve because of an increase in reports of troublesome critters.
The issue is that some residents trap the animals they find rummaging through trash cans and yards and relocate them into the forests, officials said.
The addition of outside raccoons, birds, turtles, snakes and other animals to the already over-populated forest introduces several factors that threaten the survival of the critters that already reside within the area, said Kathy Morris, director of the Louisville Nature Center. The increase in food competition—combined with the possible spread of parasites and disease—can endanger the established animals.
The animals—both native to the forest area and the new ones—face one of two outcomes, said Dan Cox, the eastern preserves manager for the Kentucky State Nature Preserves commission.
“Either the animal dies due to stress or it leaves the natural area and becomes another person’s nuisance,” he said.
The practice of dropping off trapped animals in the forest areas has officials reaching out to residents with alternate, humane ways to combat the issue.
Morris encourages residents to allow nature to takes it course.
“The animals, they do what they’re supposed to do in the preserve,” she said. “Adding more animals from the outside upsets the balance. Don’t bring in animals from the outside.”
Residents experiencing a persisting problem with animals should contact a licensed commercial nuisance wildlife control operator, visit the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources's website or call (800) 858-1549, officials say.
Morris recommends securing trash can lids, bringing pet food inside and ridding your residential area of rodent habitat in effort to create an unappealing space for critters. She said if animals don’t benefit from residential areas, they will be less likely to go there.
State Rep. Jim Wayne, D-Louisville, is working with the Louisville Nature Center to help educate residents on humane methods to prevent the issue, rather than trapping.
“Improperly releasing animals here causes major problems,” he said. “There are better, more humane alternatives.”