10 Tips to Protect Wildlife During a Heatwave

Jun 12, 2023 | written by:

Thanks to rising global temperatures, the Met Office have predicted that Brits are in for a heatwave in June with temperatures expected to rise to around 30C by the end of the month.

Catherine Capon, wildlife expert and Head of MarComm UK at Treedom, the digital tree planting platform who are on a mission to green the planet and help combat the climate crisis has given her 10 top tips to help wildlife during a heatwave.

​Heatwaves have a well documented impact on humans: physical illnesses like heatstroke, mental illness like stress, dehydration and even increased risk of mortality.  It’s therefore not surprising that heat waves affect wildlife too.  Their habitat can be lost or altered due to high temperatures drying up water bodies.  Availability of food can become an issue as vegetation is negatively impacted which disrupts the whole food chain.  

There’s an increased risk of wildfires which results in the destruction of habitat and displacement of wildlife.  Some animals may even face difficulties escaping rapidly spreading wildfires which can result in death,’’ Catherine states.

It is therefore crucial to take proactive measures to protect wildlife during heatwaves. I have collated my 10 top tips so that you can take action.

  1. Provide water sources: Place shallow dishes or bowls filled with fresh water in your garden or outdoor areas. Ensure these water sources are accessible to wildlife, especially birds and small mammals. Consider using birdbaths or small ponds to create water sources.

  2. Create shade and shelter: Set up shade structures like umbrellas or canopies in your garden to provide refuge for wildlife. Additionally, consider creating brush piles or leaving sections of your garden unmowed to offer shelter for animals.

  3. Maintain bird feeders: Keep bird feeders filled with fresh food and clean water. During a heatwave, birds may struggle to find natural food sources, so providing supplementary food can be a great help. Ensure you clean the feeders regularly to prevent the spread of diseases.

  4. Plant native and drought-resistant vegetation: Choose native plants that are adapted to the local climate and require less water. These plants will be more resilient during a heatwave and provide a natural habitat and food sources for wildlife. Consider creating pollinator-friendly gardens to support bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.

  5. Avoid disturbing nests and young animals: During a heatwave, animals may seek shelter in hidden places or build nests in unusual locations. 

  6. Avoid pesticide use: Pesticides have harmful effects on wildlife, especially during times of stress like a heatwave. Opt for natural alternatives or integrated pest management techniques.

  7. Be mindful of wildlife on the road: During hot weather, some animals may venture onto roads in search of water or cooler areas. Be vigilant while driving and watch out for wildlife crossing the road. Slow down and give them enough time to move out of harm's way.

  8. Report distressed or injured wildlife: If you come across distressed, injured, or orphaned wildlife, contact local wildlife rescue organisations like the RSPCA or the London Wildlife Trust. They have the expertise to handle and care for wildlife in need.

  9. Conserve water: During a heatwave, water sources can become scarce for both humans and wildlife. Conserve water by using it efficiently and reducing wastage. Every drop you save can help maintain natural water sources for wildlife.

  10. Educate others: Spread awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife during heatwaves. Encourage friends, family, and neighbours to implement wildlife-friendly practices and make a positive impact on the environment.

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