More than 75 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas. While the growth of cities and subdivisions displaces some wildlife, many species continue to live in the habitat available in parks, undeveloped parcels of land and vacant lots, along stream and river corridors and in our backyards. Their presence can provide recreational and educational viewing opportunities. For many people, especially children, viewing wildlife in the backyard is exciting. People and wildlife can peacefully coexist in most situations. However, there may be times when conflicts arise.
General Prevention Tips:
- Don't feed wildlife. If you choose to feed songbirds, place the feeder where it is inaccessible to other wildlife species.
- Use a feeder with a gravity-operated treadle to discourage squirrels and don't let spilled food accumulate.
- Trim tree branches that extend over your roof or install a three-foot-wide band of sheet metal (six feet above the ground) around the trunks of trees that overhang your house. This will reduce the access raccoons have to your roof.
- Cover window wells with grates, bubbles or hardware cloth.
- Keep pet food inside.
- Seal up holes around and under home foundations.
- Bury 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth one to two feet deep in places where animals might gain access through digging.
- Store garbage in metal or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep the containers in the garage or shed and put trash out only when it is scheduled for pick up.
- Fence gardens and cover fruit trees and berry bushes with netting. Screen fireplace chimneys and furnaces (from February to September) as well as attic and dryer vents. Keep dampers closed when not in use (consult a knowledgeable source to prevent fire or safety hazards).
- Decks built less than two feet off the ground should have 1/4-inch mesh hardware cloth nailed from the top of the outside joists to the bottom of a 10-inch trench, leaving about six to eight inches of extra hardware cloth at the bottom to form an L-shape. Wooden lattice can be added for aesthetics.
- Seal all holes and cracks in your foundation, siding or stucco that is larger than 3/8 inch wide to keep rats, mice, bats and snakes out. Common entry points include chimneys; gaps around window air conditioners, water pipes or electric outlets; openings in interior walls that lead to the attic or ceiling; loose or shrunken siding boards; and loose vent covers.
- Repair broken, weak or rotted areas on the roof, soffit and fascia of your house.
- Mark large windows with strips of white tape or raptor (hawk) silhouettes to avert birds from flying into the window.