Wildlife is all around us. As human populations increase, we are coming in contact with wildlife more and more. Many animals hope for survival hinges on their ability to adapt and to learn to live with us. Tolerance and understanding can offer the most rewarding learning experiences. Remember, we are all just trying to make a living – animals included.
If you spend many hours turning your yard into a beautiful oasis, do not be surprised if animals find it beautiful and inviting as well. Take it as a compliment!
If you do not want to create a situation, take measures to prevent them from occurring. Do not leave food around. This means keeping pet food indoors and picking up garbage, garden waste and fallen fruit. Fruit on the ground can attract rodents which will then in turn attract foxes and coyotes – which are not opposed to eating fruit themselves.
Cover holes before they become someone’s home. Don’t leave garages and sheds open for long periods – particularly in the spring and fall. Do not leave a lot of cover for them such as lumber, debris or other hiding areas around your yard. Keep trees, shrubs and gardens trimmed up and neat.
For information on various species, read below.
Important – Caution should be taken with all rabies vector species. Animals that are exhibiting unusual behaviours such as too tame or friendly, aggressive, dumb – banging into things, wandering around in public or out when they should be sleeping should not be approached. Call the WRSOS Hotline for further information.
Conflicts with Mammals most often arise when mammals are looking for a safe place to raise their young or to hibernate. Prevention is the best option. Repair all holes BEFORE they become someone’s new home. If you are unsure whether there is an animal there already, the ground can be dusted with flour and watched for several days to highlight any tracks entering or exiting the area. The entry can also be filled loosely with debris like straw or crumpled newspaper. If a hole remains blocked for several days then it is likely there is nothing living there. The last thing anyone wants is to have several babies starving to death under the porch. Mammals with young will only stay for several weeks before moving to a new den site. If the area is inhabited already and you cannot wait a few weeks for them to move on their own, the following humane harassment techniques can be used:
Place dog hair in and around the area.
Place a light shining into the den or place a light inside the den and leave on for 48 hours.
Place a radio in the den and leave on for 48 hours. Turn it onto talk radio – John Gormley will be sure to drive them away!
Allow several days for the animal to find a new den and move their young. You can use the flour method to see if they have left and then board up the hole to prevent future problems
Remember, you do not want the animal to be so afraid they won’t return for their young, just annoyed enough that they will move on.
Animal Repellent Recipe
- 4 cups Castor Oil.
- 8 cups Murphy’s Oil Soap.
- 5 cups of the hottest hot sauce you can find.
- Human urine – as much as you can spare!
- Mix and spray inside under decks and sheds. Spray to either side of the entry point so they can still leave freely, watch for tracks and board up entry after all signs of habitation are gone.
Skunks commonly wander into open garages or sheds. Skunks are very near sighted so, if you move slowly and quietly while making small murmering noises, the skunk will barely notice you. Make a path leading out the door with the smelliest cheese you can find. Flour sprinkled across the floor will show footprints and indicate whether the skunk has left or not. Unless looking for a place to have their young, skunks will seldom stay in one place for more than a day or two. If there is a den with young, the harassment techniques mentioned above can be used to encourage them to move on.
Skunks will often signal their intent to spray by stamping their feet and moving their tail rapidly up and down. Backing away slowly will diffuse the situation. If a dog is being sprayed repeatedly, then it is likely there is a den with young in the area. If a pet has been sprayed directly in the eyes, flush liberally with water. If the irritation persists take the pet to the veterinarian. The following recipe can be used to wash clothes and pets. Keep out of eyes. It may cause some highlighting of pets fur.
Skunk Spray Neutralizer
4 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup of baking soda
1 tsp. of liquid soap
Apply it to the sprayed areas. Wash off with tap water. The solution must be mixed as needed. It can’t be contained in a bottle.
Bats from Roosting
If you have bats roosting in your house in Saskatchewan, it is most likely the Big Brown Bat – which is actually quite small! Big Brown Bats are great insect control and eat about 50% of their body weight per night. This number is substantially higher for reproductive females.
Installing a bat house prior to exclusion can help the bats adjust and become familiar with the new home. Check out our Living with Wild Neighbours page for information on building and installing a bat house.
Bats can enter through very tight holes. To locate an entry point, look for stains on the walls or small piles of rice sized bat droppings around the exterior of the house.
Exclusions should only be done in late summer or fall. Bats have their young from June – August. Wait until the young can fly before using any exclusion techniques. You do not want to have a bunch of babies starving to death between your walls or you will have a bigger problem than just bats.
Bat Entry Points
Image courtesy Bat Conservation International
- Naphthalene flakes (moth crystals) are legally registered as a bat repellent. If the bats are in a confined space such as between walls or in restricted attic areas, the odour of naphthalene flakes may discourage bat roosts.
- Aerosol dog and cat repellents may discourage bat use of a particular roosting spot for periods of up to several months.
- Suspending 2 inch wide by 7-10 inch long strips of aluminum foil or helium filled Mylar balloons at a roost will deter bats.
- Entry sites can be plugged with silicon caulking, steel wool, or temporarily even with tape.
- All ultrasonic sound generators thus far tested by reliable bat experts have proven ineffective.
- There are currently no poisons or chemicals licensed for use against bats.
- Cover chimneys and vents with 1/2 inch hardware cloth screens. Install draft guards below doors. Seal around screen doors, windows and plumbing.
- Bats do not chew insulation or make new holes.
If you are able to find an entry point you can try a physical barrier of some type.
- Attach 1/4″ hardware cloth or screen to the house over the top of the entry points.
- Extend it about 2 feet below the entry
- This will allow bats to emerge but, not return
Bird Attacking Me In My Yard
This is a common scenario in the spring and early summer. Usually these birds have a nest in the area they are protecting. Sometimes they go as far as plucking hairs from whatever they are chasing. This could be either you or your pets. This behaviour will only last a couple of weeks until the young have fledged. Unless you have large birds such as hawks, owls or geese you should have nothing to fear. A hat and sunglasses should be more than enough protection from these little bullies. The most common species to exhibit these behaviours are a variety of Black Birds, Swallows, House Wrens and Grackles. To discourage them from re-nesting in the same area, remove the nest as soon as the young fledge and then place temporary deterrents such as Mylar balloons nearby in the spring. We would not recommend this with Barn Swallows as their populations have been plummeting in recent years and we believe they need all the help they can get – even if it is a bit of an inconvenience.
Birds Eating Pond Fish
Physical barriers can deter most fish-eating birds. For small ponds, complete screening with bird netting may be effective. Properly spaced monofilament lines suspended over a pond may exclude gulls (every 4 feet) and herons (every foot). Perimeter fences provide some protection from wading birds.
Scarecrows which are moved on a regular basis can sometimes work as well. Submerging pipes, empty plant pots and cinderblocks in the pond will provide good cover for the fish to hide in as well.
Keeping roosting birds away
- Try removing flat surfaces, laying down porcupine wire, stretching a “slinky” toy, or stringing rows of monofilament, one or two inches above each other about two feet apart.
- A sheet of metal or hardware cloth placed at an angle on ledges may also make roosting more difficult.
- Pruning may eliminate birds roosting in trees. Removing some cover may be enough to make the roost site less attractive
- Rubber snakes can be used sometimes to deter birds but, as with other decoys, this only works for a brief period.
Keeping waterfowl away from rivers, ponds, lakes, crops, and yards
- Scarecrows should be of simple construction and move in the wind. Put one in every five acres and move them every two to five days. Old cars, farm machinery, pinwheels, streamers, fluorescent traffic cones, and aluminum pie plates that move in the wind should scare waterfowl.
- Flags may be the most effective and least expensive control tool. Make 2ft x 3ft black plastic flags on 4ft posts. Put one flag per acre in fields where waterfowl have been feeding, one per five acres in fields with no damage.
- Balloons, if properly maintained and frequently moved, can be effective. Fill a two-foot diameter balloon with helium and anchor it with a 50 to 75-pound monofilament line. Make sure it is disposed properly so you are not putting plastic into the environment that can further hurt wildlife.
- A free-ranging dog, trained to chase birds as soon as they land, will discourage waterfowl.
Wood Peckers Attacking House
It is better to start control efforts as soon as the problem begins since woodpeckers are not easily driven from their established territories. These measures do not necessarily need to be permanent either and breaking the cycle for a while may be all that is needed.
- The wood may be infested with insects or they are building nest sites, or if springtime, they are establishing territory and the house has a good ring to it.
- Treat insect infestations immediately.
- Repair holes and damaged areas quickly.
- Cover the pecking site to prevent access (e.g. plastic bird netting, aluminum sheeting painted to match the siding), or use materials to dampen the sound produced (e.g. hardware cloth raised on 1” wood spacers). Padding can also be used to muffle the sound of the drumming to discourage the woodpecker.
- Hang bright strips of cloth, plastic, or foil to flutter in the wind to frighten the birds.
Check out bird-x.com or www.birdbarrier.com for a variety of bird deterrent products.
Live trapping and relocating should be considered a last resort
Animals that are trapped in the city have often been living in the city for many generations. They have adapted and learned new survival techniques for city life and would have no idea how to survive in the country. The new territory is usually already inhabited and newcomers will be fought and sometimes even killed. If they are a species that hibernates, they will often already have their food stored up and being removed from their area will mean the loss of their winter stores – making survival even more difficult. Relocation can also help transport diseases and illnesses around the province causing them to spread more rapidly.