Living with Wildlife

Geez, I love living right next to the Sloan Canyon NCA. The view is wonderful, it is quiet, but why can't the wildlife stay on the other side of the fence?

Kit Fox, kangaroo rats, quail, coyotes, snakes, these are just a few of the wild animals that live in the desert and mountains in Clark County. Urban growth and development have created comfortable housing (under decks and against spas) and an abundance of food (pet food and garbage cans). Many wild animals have adapted quite well to this urban environment and some have even managed to flourish. Listed below are some simple tips to help you peacefully co-exist with your wild neighbors. Dog and cat water bowls, swimming pools and ponds have replaced water sources such as creeks and springs. Grass, trees, and shrubs provide a food source and shade during hot summer months.

Pay close attention to your yard and house exteriors!

By paying close attention to these you can discourage wildlife from co-habitation on your property.

Pets

  • Pick up pet food after dark.
  • Once your pet is inside for the night, lock all pet doors.

Protecting Your Companion Animal: The best way to protect your dog, cat or other companion animal from wildlife is to keep them inside at night. Domestic animals left in the yard where wildlife might enter are in danger anytime from dusk to dawn. Each night, lock dog and cat doors to keep wild animals from entering your home or garage. If you need to let your dog out during the night, turn on the patio lights first and scan the yard visually before releasing him.

Property

  • Replace plastic trash cans with metal cans and secure the top. Secure trash cans to a fence.
  • If you catch an animal in the midst of a raid, DO NOT attempt to pick up or corner the animal.
  • Use bright lights or loud noises to frighten the visitor(s) away.
  • Close the areas around decks, hot tubs, spas, sheds, porches, foundations, and stairways.

Discouraging Techniques

The first and best approach to dealing with wildlife in urban environments is to practice tolerance -- understanding and acceptance of the natural patterns of animal life and respect and appreciation of wild animals. As useful as the repellents and scare devices described below may be, they all create inconvenience and displacement. This fact is paramount when considering their use.

The only long-term, permanent means of coping with troublesome wildlife is to exclude them from areas where you do not want them. Wildlife, begin to prefer to live the easy life we unknowingly create for them; they don't like a hostile environment. Taking steps to deter these animals will encourage them to move on.

To prevent access:

  • Physically exclude animals from places where they might be problem
  • Negatively condition or repel animals with scare devices

Scare Devices

Hand-sized motion detectors (usually combined with bright lights) and alarms, intended for indoor use, can be used in crawl spaces or with proper protection from the weather, in some outdoor situations. Motion-sensitive lighting kits are also effective in situations for nocturnal raids on trashcans or gardens. Motion-sensitive oscillating sprinklers are also available for deterring nighttime visitors.

Repellents

Ro-pel© contains both a bittering agent and a penetrating agent to allow it to better absorb into plant tissue or other material. It works by imparting an extremely bitter taste to anything it contacts. GET-AWAY© uses extracts of oil of mustard and capsaicin as both an odor and taste repellent to repel wild animals. You can place regular household ammonia stations around your yard in the areas frequented by wildlife. Take a shallow dish or bowl, place a rag in and pour ammonia over the rag until completely saturated. Place enough ammonia in the dish so the rag will continue to wick the ammonia up through the night. Avoid lawn areas, as ammonia will burn the grass.

Inside/Under the House

Check your property regularly to make sure that screens barring entrance to your home, basement or crawlspace are intact. Wildlife can enter a house through a dog or cat door and may be unable to find their way out. Lock dog and cat doors at night and place ammonia stations in front of the locked door.

Yards

The most effective method of discouraging visits by wildlife is to secure trash containers with tight-fitting lids and a thick rubber strap, and to bring in your companion animal's food and water dishes each evening. (Replace food and water bowls with ammonia stations during nighttime hours.) If you encounter any wildlife in your garbage can, simply tip the can on its side and allow the animal to leave on its own. Tracks are one of the best ways to identify any wildlife presence in your yard. In gardens, the characteristic footprints will display themselves if the ground is damp. On hard surfaces, flour can be used to record prints. Securely close the areas around decks, hot tubs and sheds. Rodent predators will often follow mice and rats into these areas.