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Living with Wild Neighbors

Living with Wild Neighbors

Auburn, Alabama—Squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, raccoons, opossums are just a few of the wild neighbors that Alabama residents encounter throughout the year.

Often these wild creatures are unintentionally invited into residents’ neighborhoods and yards. Once they are in they are extremely hard to get rid of.

“A fairly common situation is where somebody has a bird feeder and at first birds use it. But then squirrels find it, climb on it and knock it on the ground. Then raccoons find it,” Dr. Jim Armstrong, extension specialist and professor in forestry, wildlife and natural resource managemenwild neighbor squirrelt, said. (Photo: Flixir)

In other situations food in trash cans or food left out for pets may attract wildlife animals. Then when they get a chance they come up and feed.

“They learn to associate human activity with food, and that brings them even closer,” Armstrong said.

Wildlife can cause many problems to their human neighbors. Some carry diseases, while others burrow into people’s roofs or chew on wiring.

Coyotes in subdivisions can also be a serious problem, especially for people with pets.

How to prevent unwanted wildlife

These problems can be continuous unless something is done to stop it. There are many ways to help prevent unwanted wildlife.

“Be proactive and anticipate problems, it is easier to do that than it is to stop the problem.” Armstrong said.

Never leave out food where the animals can get it. If they think they have found a steady source of food they will continue to come back.

If a person wants to use bird feeders buy those that are designed to be less accessible to squirrels.

Keep trees trimmed back up to eight feet from the house; this will prevent wildlife, like squirrels, from crawling into unwanted places.

Make sure to firmly close trash can lids, to keep animals from digging through the trash scavenging for food.

In some circumstances though, wildlife may already be a problem. While getting rid of wildlife is difficult it is not impossible.

“If a person is comfortable with trapping, they can set a live trap and remove the animal that way,” Armstrong added. If a person is not comfortable, they can call animal control or other professionals to help take care of the problem varmits.

The most important thing is to stop doing anything that may attract them or has attracted them in the past.

Though wildlife can be a pain for many people it is important to not always look negatively towards them.

“Alabama is lucky to have such diverse wildlife in its natural environment, and it is something that we can all enjoy,” Armstrong said.

If the negatives are minimized, residents can enjoy wildlife in its natural environment.

About Alison Montebello