Living With Wildlife
While prevention is the best solution to almost any wildlife conflict there are some simple, effective, and humane strategies to resolve common conflicts with your wild neighbors.
Click for specific wildlife solutions:
- Wildlife Proof Your Home
- Dangerous Dryer Vents
- Animal Attic Antics
- Boat Babies
- Chimney Catastrophe
- Porch Problems
- Open Overhangs
- Window Well Wastelands
- Wings and Windows
- Birds Building Nests
- My Garden is Gone
- Non-Toxic Wildlife Deterrant Spray
- Problems with Waterfowl
- To Trap or Not to Trap
Early in the spring is the best time to “encounter-proof” your house. It is important to do this before the wild creatures begin to have babies so you do not trap either the mothers or their young. Follow the links above for information specific to your problem areas. When it is time for one of your wild neighbors to find a new home, the following suggestions are simple and humane ways to handle the situation.
Wildlife Neighbors or Nuisance: How to Get Them to Move Out
If you know where the animal is nesting, place an ammonia soaked rag in or near the area where the animal is entering and exiting. Soak rags every day to keep them smelling strong or place them in a cup to maintain their dampness. Ammonia mimics predator urine which can be intimidating especially for small mammals. You should not use ammonia or other scent deterrents for birds, they will be ineffective.
Play a radio by their home. Talk radio stations tend to work the best because it makes the animal feel as though there are people around when they may otherwise not be. Animals like it quiet especially when they have young, so this a a great way to get them to move on. Keep in mind the species you are dealing with as to the times you should have the radio on; is the animal primarily nocturnal or are they daytime animals?
Place a portable light near or shining into their home. Animals prefer the cover of darkness when they are hiding or nesting. This technique is most effective for primarily nocturnal animals.
Unless they have young in a nest, animals will only stay in one place for a period of time if they feel comfortable doing so. Consider unique ways to make their world seem different. For example, for animals that spend time on the ground place whirly-gigs, yard flags or pinwheels near areas you would like them to avoid. For animals spending time in trees, tie strips of Mylar or streamers in the branches that will flap and flutter in the breeze and startle the animal.
Any other obstacles, detours or annoyances that you can incorporate into your landscape, especially those that limit the access animals have to the things they want, will help to convince them that they need to find a new territory.
If the animal is in your attic, shed, or other enclosed space you can also use, as a last resort, a one-way-door. Before deciding on this option you must be sure that there are no young present or that the young are old enough to escape on their own to prevent from being trapped inside. To install, cut a piece of hardware mesh larger than the hole with a hole cut into its center matching what is underneath. Cut another piece slightly larger than the hole and attach it to the outside with wire loops on half the door. This will allow any animal within that space to squeeze out the flap as though it were a doggy door, but if it is tight enough they will be unable to push their way back in when they return.
Remember that these methods always work best if used simultaneously with each other.
Brush, debris, and trees that are close to a house are strong attractions for wildlife to gain entry to your house or to set up nests in your yard. Trim branches that offer squirrels and raccoons a launching pad to the house. Put debris and brush piles as far from your house as possible.
Food sources are a huge attraction. If you feed your pets outside, remove the food and dishes after your pet has eaten. Keep garbage cans in the garage and keep the garage door/s closed at all times. If you must keep garbage cans outside, fasten the lids securely with chain or bungee cords and douse them periodically with ammonia (a good deterrent for all wildlife). Compost piles make tasty grazing for many different kinds of wildlife. Screen the perimeter or place screening over the pile of compost.
Solutions: Screening over louvers, vents, and other openings can be a big deterrent. Also, caulking compound and expanding foam insulation will fill the very small cracks. Remember, bat are great insect controllers so put up a bat house.
Solution: Cover the opening of the vent with wire mesh hardware cloth.
Solutions: Check boats regularly, especially those boats in storage, before they are moved to a garage or driveway. If a mother has had young in the boat and the boat has been outside, it is better to put the family safe in the wild rather than move them in the boat.
Solutions: Inexpensive screen or hardware netting can be used to cover or cap off top of a chimney. The best solution is a chimney cap. They are readily available at home supply stores. Please remember to remove all nest debris from the chimney before capping to prevent a possible fire hazard. Companies that clean chimneys will also install caps.
Solution: The best way to keep animals out is to cover any openings with mesh hardware cloth or wood slating. To prevent digging animals from breaching your barrier, bury the barrier a foot into the ground.
Solution: Keep your soffits and facia in good repair. Watch for trees or overhanging branches that might provide the initial access. Wrap your trees near the house with sheet metal about five feet off the ground. To keep birds from nesting under your overhangs hang strips of shinny paper or caution tape to keep them from setting up house.
Solution: Cover your window wells with either commercial plastic covers or with hardware cloth or homemade grates. If an animal has fallen into your window well provide a ramp like a board so the animal can climb out.
Solution: Purchase from window clings that come in a variety of fun shapes and colors. They simply stick to your window and break up the clear, reflective surface. Also a fine plastic mesh can be purchased at many birding supply stores that can be stapled to the outside of the window to soften a potential collision.
Solution: The best prevention is to change the surface from flat to elevated. A 45 degree angle or more works best. Simply attach a piece of hardware cloth or sheet metal to the potential site.
Plants with a Punch
1 whole Spanish onion
1 jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 ounzes chopped garlic
2 qts water
Chop onion and jalepeno. Add cayenne and garlic; boil in water 20 minutes. Cool and strain through cheesecloth. Use solution in garden sprayer on foundations, garden perimeters, garages, and garbage cans. More than one application may be necessary.
Another safe and easy way to deter deer and other wildlife is to soak strips of sheeting or old rags in hot pepper solution and tying the soaked strips to trees, shrubs, and bushes that wildlife find tasty.
Golf courses, parks, and private lawns have three things in common, they are popular people places, they have lush green grass, and lots of waterfowl! While we may enjoy a day at the park watching the ducks and geese we don’t enjoy the mess they leave behind.
Never relocate an animal during spring since they often have babies that are dependant on them for survival.
In the cold winter months relocated animals face harsh weather conditions and scare resources. Survival of winter relocated animals is very low.
Permission is needed by a landowner before an animal can be released on the land even in the case of state, county, or national forest or park land.
Traps should be checked a few times a day. Leaving an animal in a trap for an extended period of time is inhumane.
Following some or all of these suggestions can offer protection for our homes and environs as well as for wildlife. We all need to work in a safe way to “avoid encounters of the wildlife kind” and prevention is the key. Remember, we are supposed to be smarter than they are!
Call the Wildlife In Need Center at (262) 965-3090 with any questions or particular problems or check out www.wildneighbors.org for more helpful information.