Wildlife Prevention TipsMissy Henriksen
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Tips to protect your home and yard from wild animals
While many of
us may watch with interest and delight as squirrels,
rabbits, opossums, skunks
and a number of other woodland creatures cavort in and around our
yards, their presence can actually be quite problematic. Wildlife can damage
plants and property, and can often bring with them disease and
disease-carrying fleas and ticks.
According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wild animals
accounted for 92 percent of reported cases of rabies in 2010 (the
latest data available). Raccoons continued to be the most
frequently reported rabid wildlife species (36.5 percent of all
animal cases during 2010), followed by skunks (23.5 percent), bats
(23 percent), foxes (7 percent), and other wild animals, including
rodents and members of the rabbit family (1.8 percent).
As urban areas experience an increase in populations of these
animals, homeowners may encounter these animals for the first time
and not be fully prepared to deal with an intrusion. While wildlife
plays an important role in nature, these animals can become a
nuisance and a
health threat when they come too close and sometimes into
During the cooler months, wild animals are more apt to wander
closer to human environments as they search for food and shelter.
Some homes, more than others will be more inviting to these
animals. Homes that are located near wildlife habitats such as
forest preserves, parks, golf courses, rivers or creeks, railroad
tracks, and vacant buildings and have a presence of mature trees in
the yard or the neighborhood are more likely to be visited by
The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) reminds
homeowners who may encounter a wild animal on their property to
contact a local
wildlife or pest professional instead of attempting to remove
it on their own. Experienced wildlife removal experts know
how to approach the animal and trap it while avoiding being
bitten. Even though an animal may not exhibit signs of
rabies, it doesn’t mean it is not a carrier of the virus.
NPMA offers the following tips to homeowners to ensure wildlife
stays in the wild:
- Install door sweeps on exterior doors and repair damaged
- Install chimney caps.
- Cover exhaust fan openings; soffit and attic vents.
- Cover tops of window wells.
- Replace loose mortar and weather stripping around the basement
foundation and windows.
- Inspect roofs annually for signs of water damage.
- Keep tree limbs cut back 6 to 8 feet from the roofline and
store firewood at least 20 feet away from the house.
- Keep your garbage in a secure container that cannot be opened
- Keep attics, basements and crawl spaces well ventilated and
- Store birdseed in a secure place and hang your feeders in
locations where only birds can reach them as bird feeders can
attract raccoons, possums, or even bears.
- Place birdbaths where wildlife cannot reach them or provide
birds with water away from the home. Birdbaths, fountains or pet
water dishes may draw wildlife pests, especially where water is
- Keep in mind that fencing, plant choice and landscape design
can play a role in whether your yard and garden is more or less
attractive to nuisance wildlife.
- If you have fruit trees in your yard, be sure to pick or
dispose of ripe fruit.
- Do not leave brush, leaf piles or other debris to
- Keep food in airtight containers and dispose of
- Keep pet food and water dishes indoor. Do not encourage
raccoons, deer and squirrels by feeding them.