Common Problems

The wildlife conflict calls we receive at PAWS Wildlife Center are extremely varied, but there are several situations we encounter more frequently than others. Some of the most common conflicts and a brief summary of their solutions are listed below.

If your problem is not addressed or you need extra assistance, please contact PAWS Wildlife Center at 425.412.4040.

Problem: There is an animal in my attic, crawlspace, or basement.

Solution: Deter and exclude.

  • Locate all potential points of entry the animal may be using.
  • Use sight, sound and/or scent deterrents to encourage the animal to leave. (Potential deterrents include a portable radio tuned to a talk channel, a bright flashing light, moth balls and ammonia soaked rags in a jar with holes poked in the lid.)
  • Once the animal has left, secure all points of entry so he cannot return.
  • During the spring and summer months, babies may be present. Do not seal off the entry points unless you are sure all animals, including babies are no longer there. It is best if you can wait until fall to evict the animal when babies are old enough to leave the nest/den.

Problem: Birds are flying into, striking or attacking my windows.

Solution: Reduce reflections or cover windows.

  • Birds who fly into windows may see a reflection of the sky and mistake it for a clear path. Birds who attack the window might think their reflections are other birds intruding on their territory.
  • Use decals, tinting or other methods to reduce reflections in window glass.
  • Hang wind socks, chimes, mobiles or other objects in front of windows to obstruct birds' views of reflections.
  • Cover windows with taut bird netting, leaving enough space between net and window to prevent birds from flying into or striking the glass.

Problem: Woodpeckers are pecking on the side of my house.

Solution: Pad, cover or treat for insect infestation.

  • If woodpeckers are creating many small holes, they are likely looking for and possibly finding food. Inspect wood siding for insect infestation and treat as needed.
  • If woodpeckers are making one large hole, they are likely looking to build a nest. Temporarily cover wood siding with plastic visqueen (can be found at paint and hardware stores) so the bird no longer thinks it is an appropriate nest site.
  • If woodpeckers are pecking on metal flashing, antenna or chimney caps, this is most likely territorial drumming behavior. Pad any metal with soft material to eliminate sound and the bird will go elsewhere.
  • Both nesting and territorial drumming behaviors are temporary and will cease when the breeding season ends. The breeding season for most woodpeckers in Washington State runs from late April through early July.
  • Feeding behavior will continue for as long as insects are present in the wood.

Problem: Birds are dive-bombing my pets and me on my property.

Solution: Identify and avoid nests and young and/or change routine temporarily.

  • Dive-bombing birds are parents protecting their young. First identify where their nest or young are on the property.
  • Use an alternate door or entry to the house to avoid the parent birds, or carry an umbrella to avoid being dive-bombed.
  • The dive-bombing is temporary and will end when the young birds have left the nest and are strong enough to fly on their own.  By mid to late July most dive-bombing activity in Washington State has ceased.
  • The behavior may be frustrating, but parent birds will not harm you or your pets. However, pets may harm the parent birds or the young, fledgling birds so keep close watch of your pets.

Problem: Wild animals are eating my pet's food or raiding my garbage or compost bin.

Solution: Eliminate access to the food and/or garbage.

  • Only feed pets inside, or supervise outside feeding and remove leftovers immediately. Do not leave pet food outside.
  • Keep pet food bags in secure containers inside a securely closed garage or shed, or inside your home.
  • Close any pet doors at night, so wild animals won’t come inside looking for food.
  • Secure garbage can lids or store cans in a securely closed garage.
  • Enclose your compost bin so that wild animals cannot gain access, or buy a wildlife-proof bin.

Other resources

Check out PAWS’ fact sheets on different wild birds and wild mammals who are most commonly involved in conflicts. The fact sheets provide information about each animal’s natural behavior, and how to avoid or address common conflicts with them.

We also have information on conflicts between pets and wildlife and effective solutions. Don’t forget these wildlife dos and don'ts for quick tips on living in harmony with your wild neighbors.