Whether you live in the suburbs or on ten acres, you have probably encountered wildlife at some point. Perhaps it was a hawk perched on a fence in the distance or a doe and her fawn trotting across the road in front of you. Or maybe you spotted the elusive opossum late one night while taking out the trash. There are a few things you can do to avoid conflict and to keep the peace with our wild neighbors:
Keep Trashcans Tightly Closed
This may seem obvious, but all wildlife looks for shelter, warmth, and food. By unintentionally providing a supply of food you may be inviting wildlife to settle in like an unwanted houseguest. Secure garbage cans and compost bins with fasteners such as bungee cords to keep animals out. You may also want to keep your barbecue clean of food debris and pick up fallen fruit from your trees. Try to keep your home less attractive to wildlife by eliminating warm, dark places and avoid leaving food out overnight.
Your Pet Matters
An important part of being a pet owner is ensuring their health and safety. Always keep your pet up-to-date on vaccinations, feed them indoors, and use a leash when out for a walk. By being a responsible pet owner you are considering their wellbeing. Equally important, you are decreasing the likelihood of a pet and wildlife conflict.
Do you know your local wildlife? Certain animals have developed a bad reputation over the years. It’s time to dispel the myths and get to know the true nature of your neighborhood’s “nuisance” animals. You might be surprised with what you find out! For example, did you know that bats really don’t want to fly into your hair? They are afraid of humans and try to avoid us as much as possible! Bats aren’t pests either – they eat the pests and help to keep insect populations under control. Did you know that opossums are highly resistant to rabies and are also excellent at keeping garden pests at bay? They love to dine on cockroaches, spiders, and slugs. They are usually non-aggressive and keep to themselves unless disturbed. A little research will make you a more informed citizen and local ecosystem protector!
Consider Alternative “Pest” Control
Glue traps are inhumane and do not target only nuisance animals. Birds, bats, snakes, and even small house pets can become trapped in the sticky glue. Some people may also think that live trapping is a good idea, however animals caught in traps will likely suffer from stress, injuries, or even death. Sadly, any wild animal not legally permitted to be relocated is then required to be killed by the trapper. Keep in mind that if your home is attractive to wildlife it is likely there will be another animal waiting to move in as soon as the space is available.
So what’s a person to do? Luckily there are alternatives!
Many companies are moving towards a more humane way of dealing with wildlife. When hiring help, always ask questions. What methods do they use? Insist on ethical, humane techniques. Your local wildlife rehabilitation expert may have excellent referrals to pass along. They may also have simple, inexpensive options for deterring wild animals without trapping or killing them.
There are many resources available to help us handle unexpected encounters with wildlife humanely. Peaceful co-existence is something we can all work together to achieve. Our communities can be better places to live if we resolve wildlife conflicts with care and compassion.
Written by: Erika Seirup