Do you have raccoons in the chimney, squirrels in the attic or skunks under your porch? During the spring, urban wildlife seek out suitable den sites to give birth and raise their young.

Wildlife can enter buildings through chimneys and attics because of unscreened vents or openings left by loose or rotten boards. Trash, composters, or pet food left outdoors provides easily accessible food.

While this may seem alarming, it usually is a temporary situation. Most mammals give birth between March and June and some species again in late summer or early fall.

Evicting wildlife at the wrong time or using the wrong method can mean that orphaned wildlife are left behind—a situation we would like to prevent because nobody can raise a baby animal better than its wild mother. Excluding wildlife can cause even more damage to your home from mothers trying to get back in to their babies or from trapped animals trying to escape.

If an animal has already moved into your eaves or is nesting under your porch, the solution may be patience since many wildlife problems are temporary. These animals have probably settled into a warm, quiet place to raise their young. Once the young reach a certain age (approximately 6 to 12 wks), usually in early- to mid- summer, the mother almost always relocates the whole family to a new nest in the natural environment.

What is the Humane Solution?

If you cannot wait for mothers to relocate their nest in mid- summer, you can use deterrents to encourage wildlife to move out on their own. The idea is to turn their dark, quiet, safe den into one that is inhospitable so that the mother will begin to move her young to a back-up nest. To do this, use three basic techniques (use all three at the same time):

  • Noise – Place a battery-powered radio tuned to a talk station in the area
  • Light – Place a flashlight or trouble light in the area as close as possible to the nest
  • Odours – Sprinkle ammonia (available at grocery stores) on rags. Tie the rags into the size of a tennis ball, or put them in an empty margarine container with holes in the lid, and throw them close to the nest. Do not use moth balls as they are toxic.

For animals nesting under a deck or shed:

  • Place a few rocks down the hole but do not block the entryway as you will trap animals inside
  • Dig the hole a little bigger to imitate a predator
  • Keep the area well mowed to prevent hiding spots
  • Hang pie plates around the hole to startle the animal
  • Put used cat litter or ammonia-soaked rags down the hole
  • Put a crumpled piece of newspaper in the hole so you will know when the animal has moved out

Be persistent and imaginative, but patient and kind. If a wild mother’s den is turned into a noisy, bright, smelly environment, the mother should relocate her babies within a few days. Once you are sure she’s moved the nest, be sure to repair the entryway to prevent other animals from moving in.