Raccoons, Bats, Skunks and Other Wildlife Oh My!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

During fall and winter months, many homeowners are typically on the lookout for rodents - the most common winter pest. However, nuisance wildlife such as raccoons, foxes, and skunks also actively seek out shelter in and around homes. As wild animals pose various health and property risks, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to take steps to prevent wildlife from invading their homes during cooler seasons.

"Most homeowners don't typically view wildlife in terms of traditional pest control, but they should. Wildlife plays an important role in nature, but wildlife in and around our homes is a threat," noted Missy Henriksen vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "As urban areas experience an increase in populations of these animals, homeowners who are encountering these animals for the first time may not be fully prepared to deal with an intrusion."

The health threats posed by wildlife are numerous. Birds often harbor diseases such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus and histoplasmosis, a respiratory disease often spread through bird droppings. Bats, raccoons and skunks are frequent carriers of rabies, which is potentially fatal if left untreated.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wild animals accounted for 92 percent of reported cases of rabies in 2009, the latest data available, with raccoons topping the list.  

NPMA offers the following wildlife prevention tips for homeowners:

  • Keep trash in fully sealed containers
  • Fence off open areas
  • Cap chimneys
  • Trim overgrown shrubs and tree branches
  • If you encounter a wild animal on your property, do not attempt to remove it on your own; contact your local wildlife or pest professional to determine the best course of action

NPMA focuses upon exclusion in preventing wildlife from accessing properties. For more information about household pests and to find a local pest professional, visit  www.pestworld.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

  ###