WILDLIFE 911: Nuisance Calls
LEFT: Photo By Sam Hobson
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:
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
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
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.
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
If you are able to find an entry point you can try a physical barrier of some type.
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
Keeping waterfowl away from rivers, ponds, lakes, crops, and yards
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.
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.