Whether we live in cities or
towns, suburbs or farms, wildlife often makes its way into our lives.
This can be a joy for some, a disaster for others. If we remember a few
simple rules, sharing space with wildlife can be made safer and more
Tips for Handling
Please don’t feed wildlife.
Feeding wildlife is rarely a good idea – for you or for the animals –
and. A healthy fear of humans is an important survival tool for most
animals. Those that become accustomed to handouts from people may then
associate humans with food. They become less fearful, maybe even more
demanding of us, and are no longer shy about entering tents, garages or
Natural food sources help animals maintain a healthier diet; some human
foods can be harmful or even deadly. A few servings of chocolate or a
steady diet of peanuts and raisins could spell disaster.
On the other hand, wildlife benefits from having access to a clean
water supply for drinking and bathing. Keep birdfeeders clean and
change water often to prevent disease.
Feed your pet(s)
indoors and refrain from leaving
pet food outdoors.
Feeding your pet(s) indoors ensures that no scraps will be left behind
to attract wild animals. Even the odor remaining on an empty food dish
can attract wildlife.
Restrict access to
buildings by keeping doors
and windows closed or screened.
Leaving garages, storage sheds, attics, and basements open can be risky
for wildlife. Animals may become trapped or damage contents. Restrict
access to these areas by keeping doors and windows screened or closed
(including pet doors), especially at night.
Check for animal
nests before cleaning chimneys
or eaves, and before trimming or felling trees.
Cleaning, landscaping, gardening, and even mowing the lawn need not
result in displaced or injured baby birds or mammals. Check for nests
first, and if someone else does your chimney cleaning or yard work for
you, have them check too. Unoccupied chimneys should have an approved
screen or cap installed at the top to prevent animal access and flying
Try to avoid disturbing nests that have already been established. In
most cases, babies grow quickly and leave the nest in a short time.
If you have concerns about wildlife near your home, or want to humanely
encourage mammal mothers to relocate young, call a wildlife
rehabilitator. They can usually give advice that will keep you safe,
and keep the wild family together.
Some birds will fly
at their reflection in windows
and hurt themselves.
To prevent this, a mesh pattern of vertical and horizontal tape or
fabric strips, or a light covering of soap (such as Bon Ami™) can be
placed over the windows to alert the birds. Wonder what to do if a bird
does hit the window? Bird rehabilitators often suggest carefully
placing a cardboard box with air holes over the animal, then sliding a
second piece of cardboard underneath. In this way, you can pick the
bird up without touching it.
Tie or tape the box closed, and call a rehabilitator.
garbage containers or barrels.
Place garbage out the morning it is to be picked up. Garbage left out
at night is an easy food source for wildlife. The same is true for bird
feeders and BBQ grills. Keep them inside at night to avoid tempting
wildlife with a midnight snack. Raiding garbage is a bad habit for
wildlife and can result in the animals becoming a nuisance at least,
and a danger at worst.
Don't worry if a wild mammal starts digging a den
near your home.
Just put a small amount of ammonia on a rag and place in the hole. Wild
animals generally don't want to move into a "smelly" neighborhood, and
may decide to move on. Killing a nuisance wild animal rarely solves the
problem, since another animal will likely move into the now-available
If poison is used, non-target animals (e.g., pets and raptors) may be
injured or die from secondary poisoning.
Has a hole in the
attic or roof become a door?
Occasionally people find a hole in the attic that has allowed raccoons
or squirrels to take up residence. Make the attic a less desirable
home: place some rags with ammonia in strategic places; put a loud
radio turned on talk or heavy rock music in the attic; keep the lights
bright. After a few of days of this, at a time when the wild resident
is out, "a one-way door" can be placed over the hole. (It is critical
to first check to make sure all babies are out before placing a one-way
Wildlife rehabilitators can provide information on when different
species of animals have their young. Again, poisoning or live-trapping
and relocating rarely solves the problem for the reasons mentioned
woodpeckers, nuthatches, and
flickers make their nests in dead wood.
Since people often remove dead trees from around their homes, these
birds improvise by using buildings (often a large source of dead wood).
They may be discouraged by hanging metallic strips or plastic bread
bags that twist in the wind near the selected site. An alternative is
to place the appropriately sized birdhouse over the proposed
"excavation site" and invite them to join the neighborhood. These
techniques should be used before eggs are laid.
Note: if there are many small holes instead of one large potential nest
hole, the birds may be feeding on insects infesting the structure - a