Avoiding Wildlife Troubles
The presence of wild animals in urban areas reflects the animals' ability to adapt to the replacement of fields, trees and streams by lawns, ponds, gardens and chimneys. Animals may use this new environment at the expense of their human neighbors, creating a disturbance or causing damage. Keep in mind that seeking shelter and food is an animal's natural instinct. They are not intentionally trying to cause problems.
While trapping and removing the animal may seem like an obvious solution, it does not usually provide a permanent answer. And, it's often illegal for you to do yourself. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources requires a permit to live trap or kill most wild animals. Check with your community police department to see if they have personnel authorized to live trap and remove offending animals. Or call a commercially-licensed animal removal service (look under "animal removal" in the telephone directory). Trapping and removing animals only creates an open space for another animal. A trapped adult may also leave young behind to die of starvation in an inaccessible area. Focus on removing the attraction, not the animal in order to prevent another invasion.
Solving Problems with Raccoons, Skunks, Foxes and Coyotes, Opossums, Woodchucks, Rabbits, Voles, Squirrels and Chipmunks
- Do not encourage wildlife to come in or near your home by feeding them.
- Keep pet food and water dishes inside, especially at night to avoid problems with raccoons, skunks opossums, foxes and coyotes.
- To minimize conflicts between wildlife and household pets, make sure to turn on outside lights, make noise and observe the area for any signs of wildlife before letting your pets outdoors.
- Don't allow spilled birdseed to accumulate outside of bird feeders.
- Keep grills and barbecues clean. Even small food scraps may attract any one of these critters.
- If possible, do not keep garbage cans outside. If this is not possible pour one cup of ammonia inside the garbage can or sprinkle black pepper on the top bag inside the can. Another deterrent is to place rags soaked in ammonia on top of the garbage can lid and secure with bungee cords. Use the techniques for a five-to-seven-day period or when putting garbage out for your weekly pick up.
- Trim tree limbs that provide easy access to your roof by raccoons and squirrels.
- Repair broken, weak or rotted areas all around and on your house.
- Install and maintain chimney caps before animals move into your chimney.
- Use welded wire to prevent animals from accessing openings under decks, elevated sheds, concrete slabs and porches.
- Use welded wire on the inside of attic vents to deny access to the attic if the vent covers are removed.
Skunk Odor Neutralizer
Not that anything will endear the owner of a skunked pet to our gentle resident Striped Skunks (Mephitis mephitis), but skunks truly are beneficial to your backyard garden. These nearsighted creatures are omnivores and have a hearty appetite for grubs and many other insects that are pests to vegetable and flower gardens. They have also been known to consume mice and baby rats.
The popular home remedy of tomato juice does not neutralize the scent. Instead, its apparent effectiveness is due to "olfactory fatigue"-your nose simply gives up and stops smelling the strong odor. However, another person coming on the scene at this point will readily confirm that the smell is not, in fact, gone.
Here's what does work. Mix:
- 1 quart hydrogen peroxide (3 per cent solution)
- 1/4 cup baking soda
- Tsp. liquid dish soap
Let soak; rinse thoroughly with water; repeat if necessary. Source: Chemical & Engineering News
Very Important: do not store the mixture in a closed container (it releases oxygen and might explode), and be aware that the hydrogen peroxide may lighten dark fur.
It's that time of year again! Babies are being born, and we have to be careful and avoid possible troubles! I'm hesitant about skunks and raccoons this year because we had quite a few cases of rabies in my area in the autumn (about a 1/2 mile from me a rabid skunk had to be killed), so I'm doing my best to keep problems at bay.