1. Replace damaged siding, trim and soffits. There may not be an actual hole today, but weakened wood and dry rot provide prime entry points for wildlife. If you can't replace damaged wood or siding immediately, try temporarily covering these areas with welded wire mesh or other sturdy materials.
2. Cap chimneys. Stainless steel chimney caps not only help extend the life of your chimney, they also prevent unwanted wildlife from entering your chimney and home. (If you haven't used your chimney recently, be sure to check for wildlife before you cap it!) Most wild birds and small mammals cannot escape a chimney once they are inside so please do NOT try to smoke out any animals you find. If you need assistance removing an animal in Utah, call the Division of Wildlife Resources for more information.
3. Cover dryer, furnace and roof exhaust vents. These are tempting nesting sites for many cavity nesters like European Starlings and House Sparrows. Commercially made louvered vent covers and/or cage style covers are available at local hardware stores. It is not recommended to screen over dryer vents as the trapped lint can create a fire hazard.
4. Clean rain gutters. Remove built up leaves and debris from gutters, especially where trees overhang the house. April is one of the rainiest times of the year so get those gutters ready to go before the showers start and nests are built in the rubbish.
5. Check attics and lofts for tiny openings. Birds, bats, raccoons, rodents and snakes can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps, so tightly seal off any gaps you may find.
6. Prune trees early in the season. Trim trees and shrubbery before they are occupied with nests. When landscaping later in the year, look for nests with eggs or babies before you take down a tree, lop off a branch or remove a shrub. If planting new trees, keep a horizontal distance of at least 10 feet and a vertical distance of at least 15 feet between your home and the trees. Ivy, climbing vines and lattices can provide excellent ladders for wildlife, so be sure to trim back foliage enough so that it isn't an easy jump to your home's eaves.
7. Install barrier walls under raised decks or patios. This will discourage unwanted animals from taking up residence under these surfaces.
8. Cover window wells. Baby quail, killdeer, fledgling songbirds and small mammals are easily trapped in exposed window wells where they can easily drown or starve to death.
9. Make windows bird safe. Picture windows are a popular feature in today's modern homes, but window strikes are one of the deadliest and most common hazards wild birds face today. You can easily prevent birds from colliding with windows and glass doors by using decorative decals, stained glass, slats, screens or other visual barriers. For excellent tips on making your windows safer for wildlife, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at http://www.allaboutbirds.org/netcommunity/Page.aspx?pid=1184.
10. Secure garbage cans. An open trash can is a buffet invitation for wild animals of all types. Keep trash cans and dumpsters covered and closed, both at home and at work.
11. Clean feeders and baths regularly. Prevent the unwanted spread of disease or sickness by keeping feeders and birdbaths clean and replacing food and water frequently. For helpful suggestions on how to do this, visit http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/keep_feeder_bath_clean.html. Remember not to place feeding areas or birdbaths where they'll leave visitors exposed to significant threats like unattended pets.
12. Keep domestic and wild animals apart. Cute as it may appear at first, pets and wild animals do not "play" well together. For your pet's safety as well as the protection of local wildlife, please:
- Keep domestic cats and dog indoors or build appropriate enclosures so pets can spend time outside safely
- Keep dogs on a leash or under close supervision whenever outside of a fenced yard or designated dog park
- Feed pets indoors whenever possible. If feeding outdoors, remove leftover pet food as soon as your pets have finished their meal. (This prevents unwanted guests and prevents the transmission of communicable diseases between animals.)
- Make sure outdoor housing for rabbits, chickens, and other pets/livestock is secure from predators.
13. Discourage nesting above doors. If you see the beginnings of a nest being built above a door to your home or in an unwanted area of your home, remove it before birds can take up residence and place an object there to deter rebuilding. Birds roosting above high-traffic doorways can become a noisy and messy nuisance and fledglings can get stepped on as they fall to the ground while learning to fly.
14. Check campers, trailers and farm equipment for nests. These are items that sit unused and often undisturbed for the cold months. Wildlife will often mistake these items as abandoned homes that are vacant to move into.
15. Avoid using glue traps and poisons. Unattended traps and poisons can kill indiscriminately and inhumanely. For instance, a glue trap set out to exterminate mice can seriously damage a wild bird's feathers when it attempts to catch the mouse as prey. Consult local home improvement, plant nursery or pest control experts to find less toxic, more environmentally-friendly alternatives to effectively deter and control pests in your area. When you must use a trap of any kind, carefully place it and check it often.
16. Leave fledglings with parents. Don't remove a fledgling from its parents unless it is absolutely necessary. Many well-intentioned people unknowingly bring healthy baby birds and animals they find to rehabilitators to "rescue" them because they thought the young animal was in immediate danger. In many cases, these young animals were simply going through the normal process of learning to fly or newly emerging from their nests, dens or burrows and ended up on the ground. It is a popular myth that birds won't tend to their young after they've been handled by humans, but this is not true. Most birds actually have a very poor sense of smell so it's OK to return a baby bird to the nest if you can safely do so. Even if a baby bird is found flapping on the ground, their parents are usually still in the vicinity caring for them and providing the food they need to thrive on their own. Birds grow quickly, emerging from tiny eggs and reaching full-size in an average of only 2-4 weeks, so they usually learn how to fly quickly. In many cases the best solution is to leave them where they are and keep pets away from them or put them back in the nest. If you come across a baby animal you believe needs human help, please call us or another licensed wildlife rehabilitator (our number is 801-814-7888) before you pick up the animal or try to care for it. Besides being dangerous for you, you could harm or kill the animal since each species has specific dietary needs depending on its type, condition and age.
17. Keep in mind it is NOT legal to keep wildlife. Many people are unaware you must have state and federal permits to have any wildlife in your possession. If you encounter injured wildlife or a wild animal where it shouldn't be, contact the appropriate government authorities or a licensed rehabilitator immediately. People who work with wildlife can be very busy--especially during the spring and summer seasons--so be persistent and don't give up until you find somebody who can properly care for the animal. It could take a little extra time, but your dedication could save an animal's life.
18. Educate your children about respecting wildlife early. A child is much less likely to take aim at feeding raptors or other animals with slingshots, rocks, or arrows if they've learned what a magnificent creature it is in advance. Volunteering as a family at a wildlife rehabilitation facility, animal shelter or nature center is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your kids while teaching them about the wonders of the great outdoors.
19. Rethink bunny, chick or duck gifts. We understand it's hard to resist buying those adorable fuzzy bundles for your kids (or yourself), but consider it very carefully before you do. Is your neighborhood zoned for farm animals? How will you house the animal when it grows up? Who will clean up after it? How much will it cost to feed? Sadly, many people do not think about these questions until it is too late. It is both illegal and inhumane to release domestic animals into the wild. Domesticated animals simply aren't equipped to survive in the wild--even wild animals which have imprinted on human caregivers are not releasable. Domestic ducks cannot fly sufficiently to migrate or avoid predators and domestic bunnies are not as quick as native species. If you must get rid of a domestic animal you've purchased, contact a local shelter or find a good adoptive home for it--don't abandon it in the woods.
20. Donate excess household goods. Caring for wildlife is messy and rehabilitators are always running short of common supplies like paper towels, bleach, laundry detergent, hand soap etc. If you're moving or you've got some extra supplies in your cupboard, please consider donating them to us or another animal rescue. (WRCNU is an approved 501(c)(3) public charity so all donations are tax-deductible in accordance with state and federal law. Please visit our website www.wrcnu.org to view our “Needs List”.)
21. Share our message with friends, family, classmates and coworkers. WRCNU.org shared these useful tips with you so now it's your turn. Please help by sharing this information with other people you know who can benefit from it. You can get the word out in homeowner association newsletters, class reports, by posting tip links on your Facebook or Twitter groups, or by discussing wildlife conservation during scout, church, volunteer, and family gatherings. By getting creative and working together we can prevent needless suffering and save more wildlife!
If you received this information at a booth or community programs and you'd like more information about WRCNU, please visit our website at www.wrcnu.org.
For emergency inquiries regarding injured animals, please contact WRCNU at:
1490 Park Blvd,
Ogden, UT 84401
(NOTE: We are usually busy feeding and caring for our patients so please be patient. We are not a zoo or public adoption agency and we are governed by federal regulations, so we cannot conduct tours for the general public. )
For your convenience, check out our “Wildlife Resources” page of other wildlife rehabilitators in Utah. Remember there is no state or federal funding for wildlife rehabilitators, so all services are provided on a manpower/space-available basis. For more help check out our “Wildlife Help” page also!