Nuisance wildlife has become the unofficial taxonomy for animals like squirrels, skunks, opossum, raccoons, coyotes, deer, and other urban critters who come into conflict with people. Depending on your locality, the term could also refer to other wildlife from rattlesnakes to woodpeckers, and even beavers. Advancement of urban development into forest and woodland areas has brought wildlife ever so close, but having a skunk under the porch or a woodchuck digging up your yard, is certainly not anyone’s idea of fun.
On the part of most property owners, "nuisance wildlife" means an animal that is destructive or menacing. According to a 2001 report by the U.S., Beavers, woodchucks, squirrels, and other species cause millions of dollars of damage to roads, bridges, dams, and electrical utilities. Here are some of the problems that these unwanted visitors cause for the property owner:
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- You’re treated to endless scurrying and scratching, gnawing, and pattering sounds, in early morning or daylight hours, from hidden places in your home. This is common with squirrels.
- After they have nested in your attic, squirrels leave balls of torn insulation, cardboard, and dried leaves and twigs behind.
- Opossums pose a health risk to your domestic animals like cats and horses as they have been found to transmit a serious disease known as Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) through fecal contamination of feed and water.
- When bat guano accumulates in an attic overtime, it will become a large concentration of bat feces and start to produce mold spores, which can cause lung infections and respiratory illnesses like Histoplasmosis.
- Raccoons, opossums and woodchucks cause heavy damage in gardens and farms, where they feed heavily on crops or dig up your bulbs and seeds.
- They jeopardize your health by aiding the spread of disease. Raccoons may serve as host to disease-causing pathogens, including trichinosis, tuberculosis, round worm, infectious enteritis and coccidiosis.
- They chew on your electrical wiring and insulation, sometimes, irredeemably.
- Skunks will dig up lawns and gardens searching for insect larvae and grubs, and leaving holes in your yard.
- They leave you a pile of faecal material to remember them by.
- They rummage through your garbage can and generally leave a mess in your yard per visit.
- They chew on your wooden structures and leave holes in them; squirrels especially gnaw compulsively on wood to file their front teeth.
- The acidic faeces of pigeons eat away gutters and other metal structures, erode stone buildings, and burn lawns.
- They cause lingering odours in your attic, which only go away with severe treatment or simply over time.
- A squirrel’s nest in the attic fan poses a fire hazard when the movement of the blades is impeded and the motor overheats.
- They tend to die in the darndest places – like in a tight corner inside your attic. Getting them out of there could take a whole lot, plus the odor is unrivalled.
- Aside from other diseases, raccoons and skunks are primary carriers of rabies – a lethal brain infection that infects humans when they get bitten by these animals.
Many times over, home owners are the ones that inadvertently welcome nuisance animals into their stead. Some people even find watching them a pleasant activity initially, but all that changes when their destructive impact starts to show up in the house or garden. Needless to say, they very easily overstay their welcome.
Wild animals will take any chance they get to enter your property, but in order to not attract them by your own (in)actions, a couple of simple solutions will be proffered here. The biggest enticement for raccoons, skunks, opossum, and even bears in your area, is “food.” Eliminating the food source usually gets rid of most night visitors early enough before they decide to take up residence with you.
Common sources include dog and cat food left outside, either at your house or a neighbor’s house. Feeding pets indoors will easily remedy this problem. Another common food source is unsecured garbage and compost piles. Storing garbage in secure containers or buildings will solve this problem. When their food source is removed, most nuisance animals will move on. You should also block the common entry points for nuisance wildlife in your home, after ascertaining that no animal is already in residence. Such places include outbuildings and the space under decks and houses.
If all these fail, then you may need to call in the wildlife management professionals in your area to tackle the problem for you.
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