PAWS Magazine

Issue 36, Winter 1998

Sharing Space with Wildlife

Learning to live with our wild neighbors is increasingly important as development consumes wildlife habitat. Animals that become what some people call "nuisance animals" are looking for food, water, or shelter. And who can blame them? What was once their home is now shared with humans. Solutions are available to solve problems humanely and effectively. These pages give a few examples of these solutions and offer resources on how to invite wildlife into your yard through naturescaping.

by Mary Yaeger

Solutions for Living with Wild Animals

We receive many calls from people who are concerned about wild animals in their yards or neighborhoods. Information about the animal’s habits is usually enough to calm fears about damage or attacks. For example, raccoons are very common urban animals that can be found anywhere in the city. Typically, raccoons come out at night and feed on whatever they can most easily find. Their urban diet might include fruit, insects, earthworms, garbage, and pet food. A raccoon’s presence in an area does not put people or their pets in danger.

Sometimes raccoons, or other wild animals, do cause problems for people. Common complaints include raccoons entering cat doors or nesting in attics. These problems can be solved without harming the raccoon. For example, cleaning up leftover pet food can stop animals that enter cat doors. Another solution is locking the door once the cat is inside at night. Doors which open by remote control from a signal emitted by a transmitter on the cat’s collar are an excellent option to keep unwanted wild animals out. To solve the problem of animals nesting in attics, use a series of repellents that encourage the animal to leave. Once they are gone, make repairs that block entry to the nesting place as a permanent solution. The rule of thumb in solving human/wild animal conflicts is to eliminate or deny access to any sources of food and shelter that attract the animal.

Live trapping and relocating problem wild animals is not a good solution. Not only is it bad for the animal, but it will not permanently solve the problem. If an area contains attractants like food and shelter, trapping and moving one animal will just open the territory for another. The second animal will cause the same problems as the first until the attractants are removed or made inaccessible.

For permanent, humane solutions to wild animal problems call the PAWS Wildlife Center at (425) 787-2500, ext. 817.

Mary Yeager is the Wildlife Rehabilitation Manager at the PAWS Wildlife Center.

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