Animal Tales: How do I keep wildlife out of my yard?

Question: What can I do to keep wildlife from coming into my yard and causing damage?

Answer: Raccoons, opossums, skunks, birds, deer and coyotes are just a few of the wild animals that live with us in beautiful Whatcom County.

Urban growth and development have forced these animals into neighborhoods, where they find warm, comfortable housing (under decks, porches, spas) and an abundance of food (pet food, bird feeders, garbage cans). Many wild animals have adapted quite well to an urban environment, and some have even managed to flourish. Below are a few tips so you can peacefully and humanely coexist with our wild animal neighbors.

Pay close attention to your yard and house exteriors.

• Pick up pet food after dark.

• Once your pet is inside for the night, lock all indoor-outdoor pet doors.

• Replace plastic garbage cans with metal cans that have secure lids.

• Secure your trash cans so they cannot be tipped over.

• Place bird feeders several feet off the ground and away from trees or structures.

• Install motion-sensitive spotlights around your property and garden areas to frighten and deter wild visitors.

• Install fencing around garden areas. During the growing season, when natural vegetation is plentiful, fencing is typically effective. Do not use barbed wire fencing, as animals, especially deer, can get caught in the fence. Many farm and garden stores sell humane deer repellent products that are safe for your garden and plants but will deter deer.

• Cut and trim branches away from your roof, to discourage easy wildlife access to chimneys and attics.

• To deter wild animals from such areas as crawl spaces, under porches, spas and decks, place ammonia-soaked rags, mothballs and/or small pans of ammonia near the area. The odor will be unpleasant to wildlife. Don’t seal off an area unless you are certain the animal and any of its babies are gone. Animals that are trapped will starve to death.

For more information on how to safely live with native wildlife, visit whatcomhumane.org. For information on injured or orphaned native wildlife, contact the Whatcom Humane Society wildlife rehabilitation services center at 360-966-8845.