Feeding wildlife can create "problem" animals Wildlife does not try to maliciously annoy people! In many cases, people have turned wild animals into "delinquents" and created problem animals by providing them with easy food. Putting bird feeders out for songbirds rarely causes conflicts with humans (though feeders should be cleaned regularly to prevent the spread of diseases), but feeding mammals can bring in what many people consider undesirable species, such as raccoons and bears. Once these animals associate people with food they may look for food from any human, which means that even if you are tolerant of these animals, they may meet a sad end when they approach a person who is not tolerant of their presence. Here are a few tips:
Don’t provide easy meals for wildlife- they will stick around and be less scared of people which could end up in them having to be destroyed.
Trash can offer a great meal to a hungry wild animal, but remember animals in the trash is a trash problem not an animal problem. Better trash management would help solve a lot of wildlife conflicts! Use wildlife proof garbage containers or barrels, and place garbage out the morning it is to be picked up. See our resources page for more information.
To avoid uninvited wildlife being attracted to bird feeders and outdoor grills you may want to bring these inside at night.
Keep all pets indoors or under control. Dogs and cats are invasive predators that humans have introduced into nature. They disrupt the balance of nature and can, in turn, meet sad fates themselves. Some government agencies give pet owners hefty fines if their animals chase, harm, or kill wildlife. See Cats & Wildlife for more information.
Feed your pets indoors to avoid bringing curious and hungry wildlife
Flying squirrels are adorable, but may not be so cute if they end up living in your house.
Find solutions to keep wild animals out of your house
Come up with a comprehensive wildlife proofing plan; restrict access to buildings by repairing holes, cracks, and closing doors and windows. Open areas such as chimneys may have a screen placed over them to prevent wildlife access. For more information see below.
If an animal has taken up residence in your home (such as the attic), you can make your home less desirable by placing some rags with ammonia in strategic places, turning on a loud radio turned to talk or heavy rock music, and keeping the lights bright. These deterrents will usually encourage the wild animal to leave within a few days. Once the wild animal is out, and you are sure there are no babies left behind, a one-way door can be placed over the entrance hole. Again, getting animals to leave on their own is the best long-term solution as poisoning or trapping and relocating wild residents rarely solves the problem: new animals quickly move in, and poison often ends up killing non-target animals such as pets or raptors. Plus, many relocated animals die, and it may be illegal to relocate animals in your state.
If an animal starts digging a den near your home, don’t panic and use extreme measures resulting in the death of the animal. A new animal will move right on in, and if poison is used, non-target animals, such as pets and raptors, may end up dying. Instead, place some ammonia on a rag and place in the hole.
Check for animal nests before working on your house or yard (e.g., cleaning the chimney, mowing the lawn, cutting down trees, etc). Try to avoid disturbing nests; in most cases wildlife babies will grow quickly and leave the premises within a few weeks. Call a professional and/or wildlife rehabilitator if a nest must be disturbed.
Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and flickers often cause problems to homeowners. These birds make their nests in dead wood, and as people often remove dead trees in their yards, these birds improvise and use buildings (often a large source of dead wood). You may either discourage their presence by securely hanging metallic strips or old CDs near their selected site. You can also get a fake raptor to scare birds away, though this may not work for long. Or invite them to stay by placing a birdhouse over their proposed nesting excavation site on the side of your house! Do this before any eggs are laid. Note that if you see many small holes in your house instead of one big nesting hole, these birds may be feeding on insects in your house- a clue that a call to the exterminator might be needed!