When critters become a nuisance

Many homeowners like being able to see wildlife around their yards. Some will create habitats to encourage the presence of birds and animals. However, sometimes good intentions result in attracting unwanted wildlife or having them invade a home. Taking a few preventative measures will decrease the chances of this happening.

To keep squirrels and raccoons from taking over bird feeders, use a gravity-operated treadle, so only birds can access feed. In addition, do not allow feed to accumulate underneath the feeder. If pets are fed outdoors, move feeders indoors at night.

Trees with branches extending over the roof of a house should be trimmed. An alternative is to place a 3-foot wide band of sheet metal around the trunk of the tree at least 6 feet off the ground. If you live in an area where deer are present, consider protecting your smooth bark trees like maples from being rubbed by male deer during fall.

Installing a chimney cap will help prevent direct entry into a house. To find out if animals are already in the chimney or attic, sprinkle flour or talcum powder around the top of the chimney and watch for tracks for several days. If animals are present, they will need to be removed before the cap can be installed. Contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to get a listing of licensed nuisance wildlife control contractors or call your local city or county government offices to see if they have animal control services.

Firewood should be stacked away from the house, at least two feet above ground. This will not only lessen the chances of wildlife making a home in the wood, it will decrease the possibility of termites making a home in your house.

Openings around foundations should be sealed. Openings should be covered with wire mesh, sheet metal or concrete. If there is concern about small animals digging underneath a foundation, place wire mesh at least 6 inches below ground to discourage digging.

Keep trash containers tightly closed. If needed, secure the lids with elastic cords. Do not add meat, grease or bones to compost piles.

Having animals and birds around the home can be visually pleasing. Enhancing an area for certain types of wildlife can be done without creating a place for wildlife you do not want. For more information on specific types of wildlife and management, visit the University of Illinois Extension Living with Wildlife website at wildlifeillinois.org.