Handling Wildlife Issues

What To Do If…

Birds are eating your garden

Place netting over your fruit trees and plastic jugs over garden plants, so the birds cannot access them. Aluminum pie plates attached to posts by string are effective at scaring birds away. You can also try mirrors, scarecrows, and bird of prey decoys (such as owls or hawks).

A rabbit or groundhog is eating your garden

First determine that it is a rabbit doing damage. Some signs include plants that are cut cleanly off, and pea-sized droppings in the area.

Fencing: Use chicken wire that is at least two feet high, with support posts every seven feet, is suitable. The fence should be buried a few inches below the ground so the rabbits are not able to squeeze beneath it.

Plant covers: You can cover your plants with milk jugs with the bottom cut out.

Repellents: Try a diluted solution of hot sauce (one tablespoon of hot sauce in one gallon of water) sprayed directly on the veggies, or a solution of equally diluted soap, or garlic. It is crucial to use a correctly diluted solution to make sure the animals are unharmed if they ingest any.

Scare devices: Motion-sensitive lights, alarms, or sprinklers can be used to scare rabbits away. A homemade scare device is to insert a pole into the ground near the garden, and attach pie plates by a string to the post. When the wind blows this will create motion and noise.

Woodpeckers are damaging your property or yard

Many people have wood siding and encountered problems with woodpeckers, who peck on the siding as a territorial noise display. Placing insulation under the siding is the most effective way to stop the noise, which will then cause the woodpeckers to stop doing it. They may also drill holes in siding in search of insects, and the best way to prevent that is to keep insect numbers under control. Usually the problem is only on one side of the house, and then it’s possible to cover that section with netting. Attach the net to the roof several inches from the wall, allowing it to hang down so the woodpecker cannot access that area. Also, wind chimes can be placed near the problem section of your house to scare away woodpeckers. As a preventative measure you should fill any holes in the siding with caulking or wood plugs. Removing dead trees from your property will also make the area less attractive to woodpeckers.

A bird keeps tapping at your window

This type of behaviour usually occurs around nesting time. The bird sees its reflection in the window and thinks it is an intruder. During this time, cover your windows with curtains or blinds to stop the behaviour, or, if that doesn’t work, cover the outside of the window with a screen for about a week.

Ducks or geese are nesting on your property

Habitat modification is the most effective strategy for detering geese from living in a specific area.

Physical barriers: A barrier of long grass that separates grazing areas from a water source is successful, since waterfowl avoid walking through tall grass because predators can hide in it. Other barriers are fences, trees, hedges, and wildflowers. Turning areas of unused lawn into a meadow will decrease the amount of grazing land available, therefore making the location less attractive to them. Any barrier fencing must be installed before adults begin nesting otherwise goslings will be trapped and may not survive.

Scare devices: To deter birds from using an area as a nest site, try using scare devices. Plastic flags or aluminum pie plates can be attached with string to posts in some areas. Acoustical alarms or motion-sensitive sprinklers can also be used to scare geese away from an area. Scare tactics must be used as soon as you notice geese in the area. If you wait too long they will begin nesting and be very resistant to leaving the area. The best thing to do if you are faced with protective parents is to stay away from the nest site and give the birds lots of space.

Coyotes are living on your property

Coyotes are adaptable and opportunistic (like humans!), so the main way to avoid coyote conflicts is to take steps so that they are not attracted to your home in the first place.

  • Dispose of garbage in secure containers that cannot be opened by wildlife
  • Do not leave garbage or food waste outside in accessible areas
  • Use securely enclosed compost bins and do not dispose of meat, dairy, or egg products in
  • compost
  • If you have fruit trees, pick fruit as soon as it is ripe and remove any fallen fruit from the ground
  • Consider installing outdoor lights that are motion activated
  • Clear away bushes or weeds close to your home where animals might seek cover

You are worried about the safety of your family from coyotes in the area

  • Never feed coyotes or attempt to ‘tame’ them
  • If you encounter a coyote leave the area calmly, do not make direct eye contact, turn your back or run from a coyote
  • When coyotes are in your yard make them feel unwelcome with loud noises or spraying them with a hose
  • Teach children to respect wildlife and keep their distance
  • Supervise your pets if they go outside
  • Fence your property to make it less accessible (a fence will need to be at least 6′ high and will need to extend a minimum of 6″ underground)
  • Spay or neuter your dog (coyotes are attracted to, and will mate with, unspayed/unneutered domestic dogs)
  • To protect your farm or outdoor animals from coyotes
  • Keep farm animals in a fenced areas at least 6’ high and 6” underground
  • Have a secure shelter for animals overnight
  • Adopt a guard animal, such as llamas or donkeys
  • Install scare devices near animal housing areas, such as motion activated lights or alarms
  • Provide rabbits with a wire-covered enclosure that includes fencing buried underground
  • Provide rabbits with escape shelters with openings that are only large enough for them to get through
  • Do not use chicken wire on enclosures; this is easily destroyed by coyotes

Someone was sprayed by a skunk

Skunks give warning signs before they spray, such as stamping their front feet, fluffing their fur, and raising their tail. However, if you are unable to avoid being sprayed by a skunk, there are several solutions that can be used to help the smell fade.

  • Diluted vinegar solution
  • Tomato juice
  • Carbolic soap (safe to use on skin and clothes)
  • Toothpaste
  • Commercial products (shampoos for animals can be purchased at vet clinics)

If you or your dog got sprayed in the eyes – immediately flush with cool water. Skunk spray in the eyes is painful and irritating, but it will not cause blindness. If irritation does not subside, seek medical advice.

Squirrels are eating from your bird feeder

Special birdfeeders can be purchased that exclude squirrels and large birds from feeding. Bafflers can also be purchased which prevent squirrels from climbing the pole to the feeder. Place bird feeders about 8’ away from any tree branches so that squirrels can’t leap onto the feeder.

Squirrels are eating bulbs from your garden

Use plant covers, and blend blood meal into the soil around the bulbs to deter squirrels from digging and eating the bulbs. A diluted solution of hot sauce (one tablespoon hot sauce to one gallon water) misted on the soil and bulbs is another effective deterrent (unless they like spicy food!)