Generally speaking, when wild creatures are                                                                         W     ...
nourishment for your                  concern expressed by people         The best way to prevent    household pet, you ca...
Under normal conditions,             landscaped trees and shrubs. It       Deer follow regular pathways,    deer populatio...
One WindStar Master Wildlife        carefully considered. It is harder    Habitat Naturalist has had             to instal...
Be sure that garbage cans                                            peanuts – in a location removed    are tightly covere...
A rather charming folk remedy                                         Providing good food and    involves sinking empty bo...
Since even very small openings                                                                              can serve as e...
found in a wood pile, gardens            You may find them to be a       to try a scarecrow to protect    with heavy mulch...
sometimes few dead trees            generally claim a small pond as     monofilament line across    around for them.      ...
RESOURCES    Internet    s         vantassel.htm (good article on ...
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Solving Wildlife Problems


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Generally speaking, when wild creatures are labeled "problem wildlife," that can usually be translated to mean that they are refusing to
recognize human rules and boundaries.

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Solving Wildlife Problems

  1. 1. Generally speaking, when wild creatures are W e have a tendency to fall back into the old doctrine of "divine destiny," only now our labeled "problem wildlife," that can usually be frontiers are the lawns of translated to mean that they are refusing to suburbia, our railroads have become vast networks of paved recognize human rules and boundaries. highways, and what we are conquering are native plants and animals. It should come as no Solving Wildlife surprise that, after we have destroyed most of the habitat and many of the natural predators, wildlife is trying to Problems survive by showing up in our backyards. For more nature habitat information Even for those of us who Visit these helpful websites: welcome such visitors, there can be concerns as we learn to live together. It is the goal of A Plants Home WindStar Wildlife Institute to A Birds Home A Homesteaders Home encourage people to learn more about the wild inhabitants of their property, because the more we know, the more we can understand their needs and anticipate their behavior. Then, by providing suitable alternatives, we can lessen any negative impact from either side. Every part of the country has its own wildlife concerns, depending on such factors as climate, concentration of houses, available water, local flora, and even altitude. In this pamphlet we can’t cover all the possible animal visitors that may appear on your property, but all wildlife shares the same need for food, water, cover, and space. If there is a shortage of natural food and you put out© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 1 A Plants Home
  2. 2. nourishment for your concern expressed by people The best way to prevent household pet, you can be sure who are less knowledgeable wildlife problems inside your that other animals will show up about wildlife is that such home is to take preventive to share the bounty. habitat will attract rats. steps before problems ever develop. Be sure that any easy Putting the food “out of sight" Studies have been done to entry points are blocked off. in a garage, for example, will not confirm that this simply is not deter an animal focused on the case (for further details, This includes chimneys (there survival. I did that once for our visit the Weed Laws site listed are special caps which let cats when we had to be away for under Internet Resources). smoke escape but keep birds a weekend. and raccoons out), open areas Rats are attracted by food. under decks or stairs (these Leaving the door open for If you fill your bird feeders can be blocked by lattice them also meant leaving it open with seed that is not screens or wire mesh), or holes for the raccoon and opossum completely consumed, and let under eaves which provide who were both in residence when it accumulate and stay on the access to the attic (wood or I returned! ground, then you may indeed insulation can be used to close attract rats, as well as mice these openings). The first rule for not turning a and voles and other wildlife. wild animal into a nuisance is Trash cans should have not to provide access to any Naturally planted areas, locking lids, and food should household food products. The however, will also provide seed never be left in the open. Most flip side of that is that you for birds, but they won’t wild animals are creatures of should provide natural food attract rodents. habit, and once they learn that sources in areas that wildlife a certain location will provide can visit without causing any Sometimes animals become food or shelter, they are likely to problems for you. so used to people and so return. comfortable around houses There are many good nature that the only solution is to From what we are hearing, field guides which will give you trap them. This should the animal causing the most insights into the habits of each generally only be handled by a concerns in suburbia these creature and what it likes to professional wearing the proper days is the Whitetail Deer. This eat, when it is active, and what protective gear. isn’t surprising, since a single type of shelter it prefers. deer needs to eat more than Even something as seemingly five lbs. of leaves a day. The Cooperative Extension safe as cleaning up after mice Service, the State Department can result in inhaling the of Natural Resources, and the airborne bacteria that cause U.S. Agriculture Department all the dangerous hanta virus. offer fact sheets on a variety of wildlife, and there are also Normally the risks from wild Internet sites for just about creatures are relatively low, every species. and can be minimized by increasing your knowledge When homeowners start about each species, but it is trying to follow basic habitat safer – and often required by replacement practices, such as law – to have a licensed planting wildflower areas, letting professional involved, if the grasses grow taller, or creating animal must be physically brush piles, the most frequent moved.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 2 A Plants Home
  3. 3. Under normal conditions, landscaped trees and shrubs. It Deer follow regular pathways, deer populations are kept is only natural that the deer and will nibble anything that under control by predators and are going to take advantage of grows along the way. Although by food supplies. When there is what is available and easy to there are many lists of plants less food, females produce find. that are “unattractive" to fewer offspring. deer, that doesn’t mean that As individuals, we are they are immune. This is true of many other generally not in a position to do species as well. Those deer what should be done: Deer will taste them, even if that are weak never get the reestablish vast tracts of they are toxic, and then forget chance to reproduce because wilderness inhabited by both that they didn’t like them and wolves or coyotes kill them. prey and predators. will chew on them again. Sometimes they will pull the Nature works very effectively However, that doesn’t entire newly-planted shrub out when there is no human necessarily mean that we can’t of the ground, tossing it away interference. Today, however, we enjoy landscaping our yards. To once they discover that they have removed the natural protect valuable plantings, you don’t care for the taste. predators, and even when have to study the habits of the native food and habitat are deer that visit your property, In addition, taste preferences scarce, we provide a wealth of and know something about deer seem to vary from region to alternatives in the form of behavior in general. region, so that what is not preferred by deer in one state might be a favorite snack in NATIVE PLANTS RESISTANT TO DEER DAMAGE your yard. Notice the location of deer paths and avoid planting Perennials anything vulnerable along their Yarrow (Achillea) route. Milkweeds (Asclepias) Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum) In general, deer don’t like Sneezeweed (Helenium) leaves that are fuzzy or plants Goldenrod (Solidago) with strong scents. Some Ground covers like wild strawberries, May apples, wild ginger, people have had luck with nodding onions hanging bars of soap or bags of Culinary herbs such as sage, tarragon, mint unwashed human hair in plants, (including Bee Balm) or applying the fertilizer Milorganite (which must be re- Shrubs applied after rain). Bottlebrush Buckeye (Aesculus parviflora) Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) Other treatments which are Holly (Ilex) sometimes effective are sprays Viburnum combining water with raw eggs Juniper (Juniperus) or hot peppers, as well as some commercial preparations. Trees Paper birch (Betula papyrifera) However, fences seems to be Bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis) the most effective deterrent. Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) Deer can jump very high, but American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) they don’t jump wide, and they Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) don’t like to jump when they Colorado spruce (Picea pungens) can’t see the barrier.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 3 A Plants Home
  4. 4. One WindStar Master Wildlife carefully considered. It is harder Habitat Naturalist has had to install, is illegal in some good success with relatively localities, and is a definite risk if short stakes (about 4 tall) there are any children in the holding up strands of area. transparent fishing line. The deer know that the “fencing" is Solid fences are effective, there but can’t see the actual because deer won’t see the strands well enough to feel safe plants and won’t jump if they if they try to jump it. You will don’t have a view of what’s on need at least two strands, one the other side. But these are high enough (3) for the deer to costly and sometimes feel when they walk up to it, and unsightly, and may be in one low enough (2) so that violation of neighborhood fawns can’t just duck covenants. Sometimes smearing lithium underneath. grease on a feeder pole will According to one gardener in discourage them, because Other gardeners who have not New York, music is the answer. raccoons don’t like the feel of it wanted to put up really tall He claims that the deer loved in their fur. fencing (it needs to be at least classical, but were driven off by 8 high to discourage jumping) country and western. While we If you get permission to catch have found that two shorter are not claiming to favor any one in a humane trap, bait and fences (4-5), with one erected style over another, let us know if set it off the ground, perhaps 4 or 5 ft. inside the other, are you experiment and come to any on a picnic table or similar effective because the deer conclusions! surface, because the bait that aren’t given a convenient place you use (dog food, chicken, etc.) to land. Raccoons are cute. They are will also attract skunks if it is soft and furry and have sweet at ground level. Trapping skunks If possible, construct any faces. They are also very agile is definitely better left to fencing before doing your and clever, and this can mean professionals! planting, so that the animals problems for the homeowner. don’t have a chance to realize Speaking of skunks, they may just how tasty the plants The most common complaint also appear at your feeders, but inside really are. is that they are raiding the bird only at night. Usually you will feeders. If allowed to develop a get a faint whiff in the morning Some experts suggest tying pattern of eating there, they that lets you know that they white strips of fabric to the can become very bold and hard were there. If the area is raked fence. When they blow in the to discourage. clean and the feeders removed wind, they imitate the danger for a while, they will usually signal of the white raised tail of As soon as you notice a move on to a different location. the deer. raccoon at the feeder you should move the food, at least Fences also help, because If you do opt for taller fencing, temporarily, or stop filling the they prefer not to climb. Bury it seems to help if it is angled feeder until the unwelcome the bottom in the ground so 30 degrees away from the visitor stops expecting to find that they can’t dig under it. protected area. This makes seed there. Suet and Sometimes moth balls or rags jumping much harder. hummingbird feeders can be soaked in ammonia will moved to tree branches which discourage them for a while, but Some people choose electric are too weak to support the these are usually temporary fencing, but that needs to be weight of a raccoon. measures.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 4 A Plants Home
  5. 5. Be sure that garbage cans peanuts – in a location removed are tightly covered and that no from the bird feeding area and food products are left where find that the squirrels are they can be reached. The same happy to partake of a better advice applies to opossums, meal elsewhere. but in that case the fencing needs to have an electric wire Growing nut trees provides a at the top, because they will source of their favorite foods climb quite readily. as well as beauty for your yard. are cute, energetic, and Adding some squirrel nesting Raccoons have been known to entertaining. They can also boxes can make this alternative enter dwellings, where they can create havoc when they get area even more attractive to do considerable damage with inside an attic, and often chew them. their strong teeth and clever the covering off wires, hands. Be sure that common sometimes causing serious Although relatively rare, some entry sites are protected. fires. areas of the country are These include any vents, rotten experiencing problems with wood, and chimneys. In addition to closing the bears interacting with humans, common access sites, trim tree especially as development Females will often raise their branches so that they are 8-12 erodes the large expanses of young on the fire shelf inside a from the roof. habitat that they need for chimney, but after a few weeks survival. will lead the youngsters out To keep squirrels from climbing when it is time for weaning, so power poles or isolated trees, The main thing to remember sometimes patience is the use a 2-3 metal collar (with is that bears locate food by best solution. springs for growth if on a tree) scent. Keep any food or installed about 6 off the garbage completely enclosed Try to provide alternative den ground. and covered tightly. If they are sites – hollow logs or rock piles attacking apiaries, electric with large spaces are good – To protect outside wires, slit fences around the bee hives situated away from your a 2-3 piece of lightweight are the best protection. house. plastic pipe and slip it over the strands. The squirrels will fall You may glance at your lawn If these are located near a off when the pipe spins under one day and find that it is water source, that will be even their weight. looking rather “lumpy" due to more appealing to the raccoon. the raised tunnels created by You may also suffer raccoon Squirrels raid bird feeders moles. Although they eat more damage to your garden, mercilessly. There are a number than their weight every day in chicken population, or nesting of baffles and special “squirrel- grubs, worms and harmful birds. proof" feeders on the market, insects, they can also damage most of which can eventually be plants with their constant Electric fences work fairly outsmarted. The most effective burrowing. well in such cases. If a small seems to be the type with a stand of corn is under attack, counter-weighted bar which Incredibly, if the soil isn’t too wrap individual ears with closes over the seed when hard, moles can create shallow filament tape or cover them anything heavier than a small tunnels at a rate of a foot per with plastic bags. bird lands on it. minute! Sometimes putting mothballs into the tunnels will Squirrels are either loved or Some nature lovers offer encourage them to move hated by homeowners. They preferred food – such as corn or elsewhere.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 5 A Plants Home
  6. 6. A rather charming folk remedy Providing good food and involves sinking empty bottles habitat away from your garden into the ground in the tunnel plot is the easiest way to save area, with the necks sticking up your plants. They love dill, so a a few inches. The wind whistling nice plot of those herbs will in the bottles is reported to attract them to another part disturb the moles enough to of the yard. cause them to leave. Brush piles or thickets Because they create visible should be at least 20 ft. wide mounds, moles are sometimes if they are to provide unfairly blamed for plant protection from predators. damage which is actually done by voles or shrews, or one of Planting something like the other small creatures that blackberry bushes will give them uses the mole tunnels for easy cover and will give you a access to the roots and delicious crop. Leaving an tubers on which they feed. unmowed strip of land along the Another potential threat to edge of the thicket will provide They can also harm above- garden plants is the the rabbits with a healthy food ground shrubs and other woodchuck. You may become supply. plants. Wire mesh around trees, aware of the presence of one embedded about 3" into the soil of these “ground hogs" when This can become a transition and rising above normal snow you come out one morning to zone between your property depth, will prevent some of the enjoy your flower bed and find edges (where you plant native potential damage. the blossoms neatly removed trees and shrubs and from each plant, leaving a wildflowers, and where you put Since they prefer tall grasses garden of stems. brush piles, snags and rock as their habitat, keep unmowed piles) and your cultivated yard areas at a distance from Sometimes their underground (including your lawn and garden cultivated gardens. When using burrows can also cause plots). mulch, keep it no deeper than 1"- problems. Fences can help keep 3". You may have a few more them out of cultivated areas, Rabbits don’t like to cross weeds, but it will make a less but they need to be heavy, at large, unprotected areas, so attractive habitat for voles. least 3 tall, and buried a having nice rabbit habitat on minimum of 12" under the one side of your lawn and your Voles make up the largest ground. garden on the other side should part of the diet of many keep the two nicely separated. predators, including owls, foxes, Who doesn’t love a sweet, and snakes. If you provide furry rabbit. Well, gardeners Foxes are primarily a threat habitat that these predators trying to save their crops are to poultry, waterfowl, and favor, they will help to keep the often not too fond of them. small animals. They will be rodent population under Fencing is usually effective. noticed especially in the control. spring, when the parents are Planting things that they hunting food for their young. Some people even provide don’t like, such as onions and perches for hawks, using an 8- foxglove, will sometimes keep Exclusion fences like the one 10 pole with a 2-3 crossbar, to them out, assuming that there for woodchucks are generally encourage them to hunt in a are alternate food sources effective if topped with electric desired area. available. or net wire.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 6 A Plants Home
  7. 7. Since even very small openings can serve as entryways, the process may take several weeks as you continue to watch for those individuals which have found a way to return. Put some bat houses in your yard, giving the animals an alternative place to roost away from the house, yet keeping them in the area to eat the mosquitoes. If possible, put the bat house on a post a few hundred feet away from the attic, in a very hot location, and erect it before A naturalized area, rich in voles There is some danger of July. and other small creatures, will rabies, but only if you actually give foxes an alternative to come in contact with an When you seal your house in raiding the chicken coop. infected bat. The easiest way the winter, the bats will already to get them out of the house is be familiar with the bat house Despite their less-than- to turn on a light and open all and will use it when they return favorable reputation in past the doors and windows after in the spring and find that their years, people are finally beginning dark. old haunts are no longer to realize the value of attracting accessible. bats. In addition to being unique There are also devices which (they are the only flying funnel the bats outside when Another creature that is mammals in the world), they are they leave to eat, then won’t let under-appreciated and gets a a wonderful natural defense them return, but even dime- lot of bad press is the snake. against pesky insects, including sized holes must be sealed or Many people have what seems mosquitoes. they will be able to re-enter the to be almost a genetic dwelling. aversion to them, regardless They will each eat more than of whether or not they’re a 500 flying insects per hour! Closing openings can be poisonous variety. Unfortunately, most of their done with caulk, screens, preferred roosting places – insulation, or flashing. Don’t Snakes avoid, rather than caves, old barns, trees with loose seal up the roosting space attack humans, and they bark – have been destroyed by between April and August, or consume large numbers of development. you might trap the flightless rodents and insects, helping to offspring inside. keep their populations under Problems arise when they control. decide to roost inside a house, The best time to bat-proof most commonly in an attic. Their your house is in November and Knowing the type of droppings (guano) have a terrible December. By then the young conditions that attract snakes odor and can be hazardous if bats have started flying, and allows you to provide similar they come in contact with moist winter roosting hasn’t begun. habitat in locations that are soil because they can harbor the Wait until after dark, when the acceptable. Usually when they histoplasmosis virus. bats will be out feeding. live near a house they can be© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 7 A Plants Home
  8. 8. found in a wood pile, gardens You may find them to be a to try a scarecrow to protect with heavy mulch, junk-filled problem at bird feeders where grain crops, red has been found basements or garages, or under they arrive in large numbers, to be the most effective color for tight shrubs up close to displacing native songbirds. its clothing. foundations. They also take over nesting sites, often killing both the Folk wisdom suggests hanging Keep the close-in area free of parents and chicks of the glass wind chimes in the area. cover like that, while replacing it native birds. The birds are supposed to dislike with rock and brush piles in a the sound of glass hitting glass. more distant location, and you The Minnesota Department will be able to coexist more of Natural Resources Remember, however, that birds happily on the same property. recommends “house sparrow are also eating lots of harmful brackets" to discourage them insects in your lawn, garden, and Sealing up entry holes will keep from visiting feeders. shrubs, so you will come out snakes out of your house. There Encircling the feeder with ahead if you provide appropriate are snake-proof fences, but they monofilament line seems to native food plants, water, and are quite expensive and are disrupt them without nesting sites for them, generally used only when there is interfering with other encouraging them to remain in a high danger from poisonous species. your yard. snakes. Avoid serving millet and Although it is relatively rare, Be sure that you aren’t leaving bread crumbs to house sometimes woodpeckers out food or anything else that sparrows, and reduce the become pests because they will attract rodents, which will in length of feeder perches to decide to peck into your house turn attract snakes. Using piles 1/4" to make it hard for them rather than into trees. of damp burlap bags or towels to feed. Starlings can be Generally they are trying to to attract them, then scooping discouraged by not offering create a nest cavity or to find them up with a shovel during corn, suet, or peanut butter, insects to eat. midday when they are less which are their preferred active, is a fairly easy way to foods. Between the explosion of land relocate snakes. development and our desire to Although starlings are too have tidy yards, there are Although overlooked by many large to enter bluebird and as a problem, European house purple martin houses, house sparrows (which are actually a sparrows do so regularly, and type of finch) and European it is recommended that you starlings are having negative remove and destroy their effects on native bird nests to give the native birds populations. a better chance of survival. Plans for traps for house Since they are non-native sparrows and starlings can species (the starlings having be found at several Internet been brought here in a misguided sources (see page 10). attempt to increase public awareness of Shakespeare by If birds are eating your fruit introducing all the birds from crop, you can stretch black that author’s writings, and the thread through tree branches, sparrows as a form of insect making it hard for the birds to control), they are not legally navigate, or cover the plants protected in North America. with bird netting. If you decide© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 8 A Plants Home
  9. 9. sometimes few dead trees generally claim a small pond as monofilament line across around for them. its territory and will defend it small ponds, or frighten the from any other individuals. geese away with anchored If woodpeckers have chosen helium balloons or strips of an unacceptable place to peck, Once the young are hatched, red and silver mylar ribbon. the easiest solution is to put the parents will instinctively plastic bird netting over that march them overland to Although we have been area, secured so that it’s tight another body of water for focusing on “wildlife," it enough that they can’t get safety. should be mentioned that behind it. one of the greatest Problems usually only occur “nuisance animals" is the Aluminum flashing or wire if supplemental food is being popular house cat. They are a mesh are other suggestions. provided for the geese, causing huge problem in this country, Some species will use them to give up their taking an enormous toll on appropriate nest boxes, but instinctive migration pattern. birds and small mammals dead trees (also known as such as voles and chipmunks. "snags") are the most Letting grasses grow longer, attractive temptation. planting alternatives to turf In addition to the direct grass, and installing losses, they are killing the If you have a dead tree on hedgerows as barriers to basic food sources of larger your property, leave it in place. landing are techniques that wildlife, such as foxes and If it’s in an unsafe location, sometimes discourage geese. owls, which are already chop it down and move it to a suffering from reduced better spot, perhaps anchoring If large flocks are damaging habitat. it to another tree. crops, you can offer alternate food sources by planting lure Bells on collars are usually Canada geese are not crops in another area. Farmers not effective. Surrounding bird generally a problem for the can apply for surplus grain from feeders with wire mesh can average homeowner, since flocks the Commodity Credit reduce losses, but the best prefer larger expanses of grass Corporation for this purpose. treatment is for cats to be and water than are found in the kept indoors. typical yard. To protect ponds, mow to the water’s edge to eliminate cover, Having read all of the above If you do attract these install a 3 poultry fence around information, you may believe handsome birds, one pair will the water, create a grid of that you are going to walk out the door and find your yard and home under siege from all manner of harmful and aggressive wildlife! This is certainly not the case. Generally speaking, if you work toward preventing access to your home and provide natural planting areas on your property, the wildlife that you attract will bring you hours of enjoyment, and you will be contributing to the protection of biodiversity.© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 9 A Plants Home
  10. 10. RESOURCES Internet s vantassel.htm (good article on living with wildlife) s (products sold to control birds) s (good articles; products to control various nuisance creatures) s (source of written material and videos for pest control) s (fact sheets on raccoons, moles, skunks, squirrels, and bats; links to other animal-related sites) s (bat management and conservation; links; do-it-yourself tips) s (Suggestions for getting rid of house sparrows. Not for the squeamish!) s (house sparrow controls) s (Information on various “pests." Although largely negative about their presence, it gives good basic information about each species. Does not offer solutions.) s (some prevention suggestions) This article was written by s Maryland Master Wildlife Habitat 2.html (background on the house sparrow and starling problem) Naturalist Cathy Gilleland. s (lots of information on building a bat house; links to other sites) For more information or for the name of a Master Wildlife Habitat s Naturalist in your area, please (Weed Laws from the EPA; good information on natural contact: landscaping) WindStar Wildlife Institute Books E-mail: s A Guide to Rabbit-Proof Gardening, Janet Thomson s Gardening in Deer Country, Vincent Drzewucki, Jr. s Deer Proofing Your Yard and Garden, Rhonda Massingham s Wild About Birds, Carrol Henderson, Minnesota Department of WindStar Wildlife Institute is a national, non-profit, conservation Natural Resources organization whose mission is to s Bat House Builder’s Handbook, Bat Conservation International help individuals and families s Beastly Abodes: Homes for Birds, Bats, Butterflies and Other establish or improve the wildlife Backyard Wildlife, Bobbe Needham habitat on their properties. s Woodworking for Wildlife: Homes for Birds and Mammals, Photography by Cathy Gilleland. Carrol Henderson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources© WindStar Wildlife Institute Page 10 A Plants Home