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Wildlife Babies Can Be A Nuisance In The Wrong Place

It's wildlife reproduction time, and depending on the species, that can mean too much of a good thing for even the most wildlife-friendly homeowner.

Skunks and raccoons are the most common "nuisances" reported to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) offices every spring. As these animals find crawl spaces, outbuildings, and other nooks and crannies to set up housekeeping for their babies to come, homeowners fear potentially nasty encounters with pets or children.

Squirrels, rabbits, moles, marmots, bats, snakes, and starlings are among the other wildlife species preparing to raise families that are potential nuisances around human homes.

If some of these new families are not what you had in mind for your Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary, think about what's attracting them and remove those attractants as soon as possible to avoid problems.

The number one attraction for females of many species at this time of year is a warm, dry, easily defended area that makes a good den or nest. Close up spaces that attract them, including basement window wells, areas under porches and decks, garage and shed entries of even the smallest dimensions, roofing gaps, uncapped chimneys and vents, and attic rafters.

A close second for lots of wildlife is an easy food source.

Keep pet food and water and garbage inside.

Fence gardens and secure compost piles.

Clean up feed spilled on the ground from bird feeders, or discontinue feeding altogether for now.

Pick up fruit that falls off trees.

If it's too late for these preventive steps and animals are already in place and causing problems, you may need to remove them. If you want to attempt it yourself, check out "Evicting Animals from Buildings" in WDFW's "Living With Wildlife" series on the website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/nuisance/evicting.html .

If you'd rather hire someone to take care of the problem, any WDFW office can refer you to a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO). Although they must be licensed through WDFW, and conform to its regulations, they are not state employees. They operate as private enterprises and set their own fees.

Under the authority of their WDFW permit, NWCOs can trap, capture, and transport "classified" (protected) species like raccoons, opossums, skunks, and other wildlife year-round. (Both native deer mice and non-native house mice and Old World rats are "unclassified" or unprotected species that can be trapped by anyone at any time.) For more information, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/nuisance/damage_control.html .


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