Wildlife Poses a Growing Pest Control Problem for Homeowners

In autumn, homeowners typically work to prevent smaller pests - notably rodents - from seeking shelter indoors from colder temperatures. Yet, other wildlife such as birds, bats, squirrels, skunks and raccoons often go unaddressed despite the fact that they can pose similar, if not more, serious health and property risks. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) encourages homeowners to take necessary steps to prevent nuisance wildlife from accessing their home during the colder months.

As wildlife is not viewed in terms of traditional pest control, homeowners rarely consider the health threats associated with wildlife, which 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. In fact, as many as 40,000 people each year in the United States are exposed to animals that might have rabies, and must receive preventive treatments.

"Wildlife populations are increasing, even in urban areas. Although these animals play a critical role in nature, they also present many public health and safety concerns," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Homeowners should not attempt to remove an intruding critter on their own. Although appearing cute and cuddly, these pests can display erratic behavior and can bite, peck or claw if they feel threatened. Instead, remove your family and pets from the home and contact your local wildlife or pest professional."

NPMA focuses upon exclusion in preventing wildlife from accessing properties. Homeowners are advised to keep trash in fully sealed containers, be proactive in fencing off open areas, such as under a deck or capping chimneys, as well as trimming overgrown shrubs and tree branches that can provide highways into the home.