Tips on Prevention
Urban growth in recent years has led to a significant decrease in natural habitat, and an increase in human-wildlife conflicts. When animals lose their homes, they move on in a bid to survive. But with less green space, they end up in our yards. Learning to co-exist with wildlife is easy once you know how to prevent conflicts before they occur. Here are some strategies:
If you're not comfortable or do not have the proper equipment to animal proof, hire a contractor.
- Roof - The common access points for animals to gain entry into an attic are through soffits, fascia, roof vents, loose shingles and the intersecting point where two roofs meet. Once the roof has been inspected and you are aware of any weak spots that need to be secured, use welded wire mesh to animal proof (1” x 1” or ½” x ½” if you have red squirrels in the area, 16-19 gauge). This welded wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth) can be purchased at most building supply stores. Anytime after mid-October is the safest time to inspect and repair, as most babies will have moved out with mom. But, if you wait too late in the fall, other animals might move in for a winter den site. Before doing any repairs, be sure that no animals are in the attic.
Remember that some wildlife, like raccoons, are very strong so you must use the proper materials to repair entry points. The 16-gauge welded wire mesh that is recommended needs to be held in place using washers and heavy long screws.
- Chimney - Animals will often move into a chimney to have babies or to escape bad weather. Squirrels and birds can easily get in, but usually are not able to get back out. We recommend getting a cap and spark arrester screen installed on your chimney; a cap alone is not sufficient as animals can still fit underneath. The screen prevents all access. Most chimney cleaning companies can install a cap and screen, otherwise a screen can be easily fashioned using the 1”x 1” welded wire mesh.
- Window Wells - Animals such as skunks can sometimes fall into window wells by accident and are not able to get back out on their own. To prevent this, we suggest getting a proper window well cover or create your own using the 1”x 1” welded wire mesh.
- Food Sources - Garbage is a food source for many animals including raccoons, skunks and rats. To avoid attracting these animals, make sure your garbage is stored in proper bins with lock-down handles and, if possible, keep bins stored in a shed or garage until the morning of pick up. A composter bin is another food source, so make sure the bin is sealed properly. Also, remember that pet food and birdseed can also attract animals to your property.
- Around the Yard - Before pruning trees, check for leaf nests or cavities that could be a home for babies. If you find a nest of babies in a shed or garage, be sure to put it back exactly as you found it and give mom a few days to relocate her young. Check your barbeque before using it for the first time in the spring, red squirrels and mice will sometimes make a nest under the grill. Use chemical free lawn care, starting early in the spring, to control grubs and keep raccoons and skunks from digging up your lawn.