You add that to the regular sightings of deer, turkey, coyotes, squirrel and rabbit and I guess you can say we have a type of “zoo.” Living in North Georgia, the variety of wildlife can be educational and can be good therapy just seeing life. Every once in a while, wildlife can become a nuisance when they start eating your vegetables and fruits, raiding a bird feeder or nibbling on your landscape.
Today, I am going to share some information from Dr. Mike Mengak, UGA Assistant Professor- Wildlife Service and Outreach.
One basic you need to keep in mind when dealing with wildlife is that they need three things in order to survive. I bet you can guess them. Wildlife needs food, water and shelter just like we do. For example, say you have raccoons or an opossum coming on the back porch and eating your cat’s pet food in the evening. You have left out a food source for the critter at the same time they are out active. If you kept your pet food in a sealed container or take up all not eaten pet food each evening, you have eliminated the food source. The raccoon or opossum will soon move on. Another basic step in dealing with wildlife issues is you need to know the identification of what you are dealing with.
If you do not visually see the animal, you may need to do some investigation. Look for footprints around any damage and also look for droppings. The freshness of the dropping may tell you if the animal is still around or already moved on and also the size of the droppings can help identify the animal. You need to look for signs of digging or tunneling. If the animals are clipping foliage or gnawing on items, you can look for the size of the tooth marks or how high up on the plant the damage is seen. Deer can reach up to 6-feet while a rabbit can only go up a plant about a foot. One thing to note, too, if you see leaves that look pulled with ragged ends the culprit is probably deer since they lack upper incisors. The time of day you see fresh damage is important because it may help you decide if you have a nocturnal or diurnal animal.
Here are some tips you can try to solve specific nuisance wildlife issues. I will be sharing tips on the H-E-R-L model. This stands for habitat modification, exclusion, removal or repellents and lastly lethal control. Habitat modification is the first step after you have identified the critter you do not want around. One call I receive more often is about snakes. Most of the time, when you have a snake issue, you also have a rodent issue. Field mice need places to hide. They like rock or woodpiles and they like tall grass. If you remove the hiding places and make sure you are not offering them an easy food source like an open trash can, then rodents move on. No rodents normally means no snakes.
Exclusion is another options that can get more expensive. This is normally when wildlife is raiding a vegetable garden or flowerbeds. You are trying to set up a barrier to keep the animals from getting to the items. This method normally means fencing. When you know the animal, you will have to decide on fencing that will be the right height and mesh. For animals that dig, you may have to bury a portion of the specific wire system and may even need to use hardware cloth. If the animals are entering the home like bats and squirrels, you may have to cap chimneys and investigate entry points.
Removal or repellents are the next step with the model and this will involve you contacting Georgia DNR about legal specifics on dealing with your problem animal. You want to make sure you are not doing anything illegal when trapping and relocating an animal. Repellents are something you may choose to try. Before you use any repellent, make sure you are using correctly and in the right place.
Read the label on repellents. Some are not labeled for use on edible crops or vegetable items. Again, read labels before using. The final step in the model is lethal control in some situations. Trapping may require a permit from the federal and/or state wildlife agencies prior to taking this step. Agencies that specialize in wildlife can give you more tips on success and make sure you are legal.
For more information, contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email firstname.lastname@example.org