You can take several simple steps to control small troublesome animals. Since they are dependent on the resources they find around our homes, restricting access to these resources often resolves most of the inconveniences. They will therefore seek shelter and food elsewhere.
Roof spaces and chimneys
Block all openings with strong 1-cm metal wire mesh. Before closing exits, make sure that no animals are inside, otherwise their attempts to exit may cause significant damage. Prune trees near buildings to keep a distance of more than three metres between them to prevent animals from reaching the buildings. A mesh does not prevent the animal from climbing into the tree, but it does prevent hares and rabbits from eating the bark. Cover the mouth of the chimney with 1-cm wire mesh or a specially designed cap. It is important to ensure that leaves will not accumulate and block the chimney.
Buildings, sheds and galleries
Properly close all access to the building (doors, windows) and block all openings with metal wire mesh—use 5-cm mesh for raccoons, groundhogs and skunks, and 1-cm mesh for squirrels. Prevent access to the underside of buildings and galleries with metal mesh which has a part (15 cm deep) buried in the ground and the rest (40-50 cm) is bent outwards to form an “L” shape.
Use sturdy metal or plastic bins with tight-fitting lids. It may be necessary to keep lids tightly closed with strong rubber elastics. Use a device (rope, bracket, etc.) so that the garbage cannot be tipped over. Store garbage cans in a chest with a hinged lid that is heavy enough or with a locking device (padlocks, etc.). Some animals are clever! Change your habits. Since most small mammals are nocturnal, take out garbage containers only in the morning of the day scheduled for garbage collection, rather than the night before. To reduce odours, wash the garbage cans regularly and put naphthalene (mothballs) at the bottom.
Hang bird feeders using a long, thin wire. Alternatively, you can install an inverted cone over hanging feeders or on the support poles of stand feeders. This cone should be mobile so that animals cannot hold on to it. The bird feeder should be installed at least one and a half metres from the ground and three metres away from any area from which a squirrel could jump towards it, such as a tree branch, railing, shed, roof, etc. Squirrel-proof feeders are also available.
Do not leave pet food (for cats, dogs, stray cats) outside your home. This is a readily available and therefore very attractive food source for troublesome animals. If you have to leave a little food outside for a domestic animal, do so for very short periods of time and only during the day. Feeding wild animals can increase the risk of disease and parasite transmission while also creating bad habits in wild animals.
Trees, bulbs and gardens
Put a metal wire mesh (chicken wire) on the ground above the bulbs. You can use this mesh to make a basket with sides about 10 cm high. Be sure to place it upside down over the bulbs before covering them with soil. Animals will not be able to reach them either from the sides or from the bottom. The mesh does not affect the bulbs, the seedlings just grow through the holes. After the bulbs are planted, a mulch of sharp and irritating material such as dried pine needles or spruce twigs can be spread. This can act as a deterrent to squirrels who would want to dig around bulbs. Protect the lower portions of trees with a 50-cm-high wire mesh cylinder, some 10 centimetres of which buried in the ground. Protect vegetable gardens by fencing them with a 100 cm metal wire mesh, some of which (15-30 cm) is buried in the ground and the rest (40-50 cm) is bent to form an “L” shape.
As a last resort…
Rather than killing or capturing a troublesome animal, it is better to deter it from accessing inadequate places. When all the exclusion and scaring techniques have been used unsuccessfully and the animals are still causing damage to your property, animals can be captured with lethal traps or killed. However, do not put traps near bird feeders as birds may accidentally get caught. In addition, in urban areas, the use of lethal traps is discouraged since there is a high risk of capturing domestic animals such as cats and small dogs. If you are considering any of these methods, we strongly suggest that you consult with specialized firms or the trapping association in your area. In addition, regardless of the method, be sure to comply with the appropriate regulations since there are several laws governing these practices:
- Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife
- Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994
- Pest Control Products Act
- Pesticides Act
- Environment Quality Act
- Municipal by-laws