Coexisting with backyard wildlife this Fall

Posted Sept. 20, 2010, at 10:19 a.m.

BY BORN FREE USA

Washington, D.C. — “Nuisance” wildlife control, in which people hire wildlife control operators to trap and kill animals in an attempt to mitigate conflicts, continues to be a growing and largely unregulated industry with little accountability or basic humane animal care and treatment standards.

Born Free USA, the nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, reports that “animal damage” or “pest” control trappers — also known as Wildlife Control Operators (WCO) — number in the tens of thousands nationwide.

Through its “Coexisting with Wildlife” education campaign, Born Free advises homeowners that animals are most attracted to an area for food or shelter, therefore prevention — simply limiting access and removing attractants — is the key to most conflicts. Preventative measures can mean eliminating unnecessary and inhumane removal of an animal.

According to Will Travers, CEO of Born Free, “Interactions between humans and wild animals have increased due to urban sprawl. This has led to greater demand for WCO services, despite the fact most conflicts between people and wildlife can be resolved by simple changes in human behavior. People can implement long term, humane solutions for many of the perceived conflicts they are having with wildlife and, in turn, eliminate the root of the problem so these ‘removal services’ are not needed.”

Born Free USA’s top three proactive preventative strategies:

• Move pet food inside the house where wildlife cannot see or smell it.

• Do regular outdoor inspections of your home and repair any size holes in outside walls.

• Make sure you install a chimney cap.

Bats, raccoons and skunks are among the most common complaints, and also the most easily resolved.

Bats

Bats are attracted to warm dark areas to roost, so they sometimes find their way into buildings. While bats generally do not cause any real damage — and are beneficial for insect control — they may frighten house occupants and leave offensive droppings.

Prevention:

• Wait until the bat leaves at nightfall, then seal holes and cracks through which the bat may have entered (bats can squeeze through openings as small as 3/8 of an inch).

• Clear bats from an occupied space by brightly lighting the area day and night (this is annoying to nocturnal animals).

• Use fans to cool areas such as attics to make the temperature unsuitable for bats.

• Attach bird netting or flexible plastic strips above the opening leaving the bottom loose to create a one-way exit so that bats can leave but not re-enter.

• Capture a trapped bat with a net, jar, plastic tub, thick towel, or leather work gloves and release in a safe place outside.

Raccoons and Skunks

They can make a mess getting into garbage cans, digging in yards, and nesting under houses, and they may kill chickens or get into confrontations with dogs and cats.

Prevention:

• Secure garbage cans by fastening lids with rope, bungee cords, or chains and tying the handle to a stake driven into the ground.

• Never leave dog or cat food outside.

• Fence off garden areas with the fence buried under the ground

• Use repellents such as capsaicin (hot sauce) to make plants unpalatable.

• “Milky Spore” (available at most garden stores) is a natural bacterium that gets rid of grubs in the yard which attract skunks and raccoons.

• Close chickens in at night and surround the coop with fencing that extends 6 to 8 inches underground.

• Make sure dogs and cats are current on their rabies and distemper shots and occasionally check their stool for roundworms.

• Motion-detecting water sprayers or sprinklers can scare wildlife away.

• Misting diluted white vinegar into the air will neutralize the smell of skunk.

Born Free USA (BFUSA) is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, BFUSA leads campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets”, trapping and fur, and destructive international wildlife trade.

For more information go to www.bornfreeusa.org; on twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

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