There are 21 species of fur-bearing animals in Canada, including raccoons, foxes, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and more. Though the larger of these – bears, wolves, and coyotes – tend to get a lot of attention, the smaller mammals face similar persecution and difficulties as they search for safe places for their families.
Raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, rabbits, and other small fur-bearing animals are often perceived as nuisances by landowners. Whether they are rooting through garbage, digging at gardens or crops, accessing housing or structures, or coming into conflict with pets, complaints can be frequent. Sadly, many people resort to lethal options – trapping and poison are common.
But like conflict that occurs with large predators or other animals, it is often human behaviour that has led to the problem – and it is human behaviour that can resolve it without violence.
To prevent conflict with wildlife of varying species, there are some simple tips that homeowners and landowners can take:
- Do not feed wildlife. This shows animals that humans are a valid food source. We want them to believe the opposite. Table scraps and leftovers should never be left outside.
- Keep pet food indoors. This can attract wildlife to your property and can cause territorial behaviours to develop around that food source.
- Remove excess bird seed from your lawn. Excess seed will not only attract birds, but rodents, rabbits and squirrels too, which will in turn attract larger, predatory animals. If conflict is ongoing, consider temporarily removing your bird feeder.
- In the summer, remove fallen tree fruit. This attracts rodents, which will in turn attract larger, predatory animals.
- Keep dogs attended, and ensure small dogs are leashed. Do not let your dog chase wildlife.
- Keep cats indoors. Cats can wreak havoc on local ecosystems and create conflict with larger animals like raccoons and skunks.
- Secure garbage and compost. Use tight fitting lids, ideally making them inaccessible to scavenging animals.
- Rinse all recyclable food containers well.
- Keep a clean and tidy yard. Remove old woodpiles and keep sheds in good repair.
If you find wildlife in your home, please contact a reputable and humane wildlife removal agency like AAA Gates' Wildlife Control in Ontario (AAA Wildlife Control in B.C.) who will not only treat your home like their own, but provide non-lethal solutions that keep animals and their offspring safe.
You can also do spot checks as seasons change to look for potential entry points or attractants for small mammals.
In the case of small mammals – and large ones – it’s vital to remember that these animals are simply trying to survive and provide for their families. They have learned to live among us – it’s fair that we learn to live with them.