INJURED?

WHAT TO DO:
1) safely capture animal
2) keep in quiet dark area
3) find a rehabilitator or facility
 
DO NOT:
1) give any medical care/medications
2) feed the animal
3) handle unless absolutely necessary

ORPHANED?

WHAT TO DO:
1) read species specific information below to determine if the animal is truly orphaned
2) provide gentle heat source
3) find a rehabilitator or facility
 
DO NOT:
1) give any food or water, especially milk or formula
2) handle unless absolutely necessary

List of Rehabilitators & Facilities:

It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility.

MN Rehabilitators & Facilities

injured & Orphaned animals

It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. Click here for a list of Minnesota Rehabilitators & Facilities
Deer

1. Any obviously injured fawn(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility.

2. If you find an adult injured deer please call a wildlife rehabilitator or facility for assistance. Due to the nature of adult deer, we are unable to rehabilitate them as they would thrash/inflect self-harm while undergoing the necessary restraint and containment necessary for medical care. Many adult deer are able to naturally overcome significant injuries. As long as they are able to get up and walk we recommend allowing the natural process to take place. If you find an adult deer that is down and unable to get up and walk, it is most humane to contact a DNR Conservation Officer or non-emergency police to help dispatch the animal.

3. If you find a healthy fawn(s) alone, leave it alone. The mother will leave her young bedded down somewhere she deems safe while she is off foraging for food. It is common for her to be gone many hours. Unless the fawn is in obvious distress (crying for hours on end) give the mother 4-6+ hours to return by keeping all pets and people well away (indoors if possible). The mother will not return if there is activity in the area. If the fawn gets up and walks around, that is OK. They have scent glands in their feet and the mother can track where her baby went. If after giving the mother significant time to return the baby is still unattended, contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility to verify orphan status before bringing the animal in for care.
DO NOT FEED the fawn anything, including milk. Every year well-meaning people feed fawns cow’s milk which can cause life-threatening gastrointestinal complications. DO NOT HANDLE unless directed by a permitted wildlife rehabilitator/facility.

Foxes & Coyotes

Fox and coyote are important members of our natural ecosystem, although their presence may cause concern for some. As a predator species, they are known to hunt domestic animals such as chickens, rabbits, and occasionally pets such as cats or dogs. However, with a little understanding and proper caution we can peacefully coexist and support these wonderful wild neighbors of ours!

1. Any obviously injured fox/coyote(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility. Call for advice on safe handling or capture technique.
If you see a fox/coyote stumbling around with difficulty walking or acting lethargic it possibly has distemper virus. Safely capture or live trap the affected animal and bring it to a rehabilitation facility or permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Distemper is a contagious virus that can affect domestic pets (covered by routine veterinary vaccination). If you are unable to safely capture the animal contact a wildlife rehabilitator/facility or your local animal control to assist.
If you see a fox or coyote with patchy or missing fur it possibly has mange – a contagious skin mite commonly seen in these species. Contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility for advice.

2. If you find a healthy and energetic appearing pup(s) playing or wandering around, they are likely playing while their parents are away. Fox & Coyotes utilize dens to rear their young. While the pups are left in the den, the parents go out to hunt – often for many long hours.  Keep your distance while you observe their health status. Once the parents decide they’re old enough, the pups will disappear while they go on hunting trips with them.

If the pup(s) appear lethargic, weak, or sickly – contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility right away.

3. Although these species appear cuddly at a young age, they grow into dangerous adults. Every year people try to illegally raise these species with disastrous and grievous results. Do not risk your family’s safety and the health of the animal – get it to a professional immediately!

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If an animal needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the animal(s) anything – including water. Infants will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Opossums

Opossums are North America’s only marsupial and are greatly beneficial to our ecosystem. Although they look fearsome, opossums are gentle nomadic creatures who do not hold territories. It is true that they will “play dead” when feeling threatened and will lay with their fearsome mouths open and create an unpleasant smell to deter the predator from eating them. They are scavengers and will eat a wide variety of plant and animals, including roadkill or carrion, making them very important to our environment.

1. Any obviously-injured opossum(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility. If the opossum is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the opossum to a rehabilitator/facility immediately despite whether there is a visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

2. If you see a dead opossum on the side of the road, if it is safe and legal to pull over, check the opossum’s pouch for orphans.

3. If you find a suspected orphan opossum(s), carefully assess the size and appearance of the opossum. As a general rule, once the opossum is 7” long (not including the tail) they are old enough to be on their own and should be left in the environment as long as they appear healthy. If they are smaller than 7” long (not including the tail), contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator/facility and prepare to bring the animal in for rehabilitative care.

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If an animal needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes, DO NOT FEED the animal(s) anything – including water. Infants will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Rabbits

Cottontail rabbits are a very common backyard visitor. Often people or pets find baby rabbits in their yard. Below is advice for the most common scenarios:

1. Any obviously-injured rabbit(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility. If the rabbit is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the rabbit to a rehabilitator/facility immediately even if there is no visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

2. If you find a nest of baby rabbits that appear healthy the best thing is to leave them alone for the mother to take care of. Rabbit nests are shallow depressions in the ground lined with fur and grass – they are well camouflaged so be careful when performing yard work or lawn mowing. The mother only feeds her babies twice a day (typically dawn and dusk), but otherwise stays away from the nest so as to not draw the attention of predators.

To mark the nest to ensure the mother is caring for her young, place small sticks in an “X” over the top of the nest. Check the nest the following morning for disturbance. The sticks should be moved slightly indicating the mother has fed her babies. If the sticks are undisturbed, call a wildlife rehabilitator or facility to confirm orphan status and prepare to bring the babies to them.

If you have a dog that has found a nest of unorphaned rabbits (as confirmed by marking the nest), you can place a basket or object over the bunny nest while the pet is outside, making sure you remove the object when your pet is inside. This is a short-term inconvenience to allow the babies to be raised by their mother. Once they are fully furred, eyes open, and the size of a tennis ball or bigger they are on their own (weaned from mother) which is typically around 4 weeks of age. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility for further advice on how to help nature while managing a curious pet.

3. If you find a young rabbit that doesn’t run away from you, it is doing what it does naturally. Juvenile rabbits do not have the ability to adequately run away from predators so their response is to “freeze” when they feel threatened. Unless the young rabbit is obviously injured leave it alone, and keep other people and pets away.

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If a rabbit needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the rabbit(s) anything – including water. Infant rabbits will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Raccoons

1. Any obviously-injured raccoon(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility.
If you see a raccoon stumbling around with difficulty walking or acting lethargic, it possibly has distemper virus. Safely capture or live trap the affected animal and bring it to a rehabilitation facility or permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Distemper is a contagious virus that can affect domestic pets (covered by routine veterinary vaccination). If you are unable to safely capture the animal, contact your local animal control to assist. 
If you see a raccoon out during the day, do not worry as it is likely a mother raccoon foraging for food so she can keep up with the heavy duty of raising her young. If you have questions about whether the behavior is normal or if the animal needs help, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility. 
If the raccoon is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the raccoon to a rehabilitator/facility immediately despite whether there is a visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

2. If you find unattended infant raccoons on the ground, the mother may be in the process of moving her young to a new den. Leave the infant(s), and keep pets and people away, for 6 hours. If you find them in the late evening, provide a heat source (hot water bottle in a box) and leave the babies overnight for the mother to return. If they are still there after giving the mother plenty of time to return, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility and prepare to bring the babies in for rehabilitative care.

3. If you find juvenile raccoons wandering around, they might just be “teenagers” exploring their environment. If the juveniles are the size of a basketball or bigger, they are of the age where this is normal behavior if they appear healthy and energetic. If the juveniles are smaller than a basketball or are alone (no siblings), contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility to further discuss the situation and whether or not the juveniles need rehabilitative care.

4. If you need to relocate a den of raccoons – see our nuisance section or contact a wildlife rehabilitator. DO NOT live trap to relocate raccoons as this often results in broken families and the starvation of young or fighting of territorial adults.

5. Although these species appear cuddly at a young age, they grow into dangerous adults. Every year people try to illegally raise these species with disastrous and grievous results. Do not risk your family’s safety and the health of the animal – get it to a professional immediately!

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If a raccoon needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the animal anything – including water. Infant raccoons will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Raptors

Call the Raptor Center (612-624-4745, or for after hours/weekends call 612-702-9924) for advice on any raptor/bird of prey.
For tips on handling injured raptors or for more information visit: www.raptor.umn.edu/clinic/help-injured-raptor

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If a raccoon needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the animal anything – including water. Infant raccoons will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Songbirds

We have hundreds of species of songbirds that nest in Minnesota every summer, and many species that stay over winter. The information provided is meant to be a general guide for any species of bird that hatches young that are born naked and completely dependent on their parents for feeding (altricial birds).

1. Any obviously-injured birds(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility.

If the bird is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the bird to a rehabilitator/facility immediately despite whether there is a visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

If a bird flies into a window and appears stunned but healthy (no obvious broken bones, drooping wings, or blood), provide a safe area for the bird to recover by placing it into a box with air holes or paper bag or covering it with a basket. After 1 hour, open the container to allow the bird to fly away. If the bird successfully flies away, congratulations on helping a bird recover from a mild concussion. If the bird does not fly away or tries but is impaired, re-secure the bird and transport it to a wildlife rehabilitator or facility. Consider placing bird-safe decals or streamers on windows to prevent repeat injuries.

2. If you find a healthy nestling baby bird (naked or incomplete feathering, soft yellow beak edges) on the ground, look up for the nest. If you are able to place the bird back into the nest, do so, but keep pets and people away while you monitor from a distance to watch for the parents coming back to feed the baby. If there is no parental activity within 1-2 hours, or the baby ends up on the ground again, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility and prepare to bring the baby in for rehabilitative care.

3. If you find a healthy feathered bird (fully feathered but short tail and wings, tiny amount of soft yellow beak at the edges) hopping around on the ground, it is likely a fledgling bird learning to fly. If the bird is uninjured, keep pets and people away while you monitor from a distance (indoors if possible) to watch for the parents coming back to feed the baby. If there is no parental activity after 2 hours, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility and prepare to bring the baby in for rehabilitative care.

4. Migratory birds are protected under federal law. It is illegal to disturb a migratory bird nest after it has laid eggs. If you have concerns about a nest, contact a wildlife rehabilitator, rehabilitation facility, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for advice.

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If an animal needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the animal(s) anything – including water. Infants will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Squirrels

We have a handful of squirrel species in Minnesota. The advice below is general advice that works for most species; in particular, our most common species the gray squirrel. Most tree squirrel species have 2 litters per year (early Spring and Fall) with 4-6 infants per litter.

1. Any obviously injured squirrel(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility. a. If the squirrel is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the squirrel to a rehabilitator/facility immediately despite whether there is a visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

2. If you find an uninjured infant squirrel(s) on the ground, it is best to give the mother time to come back and retrieve her infant(s). Keep people and pets well away from the area for 4+ hours. If the baby is crying, that is acceptable as it is calling to its mother who will return when she is able. If after waiting the mother has not returned, call a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility to confirm orphan status and prepare to bring the babies to them. Never leave infants outside overnight.

If there is a juvenile (eyes open and mobile) squirrel running up to people and climbing on them, that juvenile is displaying concerning behavior of orphan status, or one that has been improperly/illegally raised. That juvenile should be brought to a permitted rehabilitator or facility so it can be properly rehabilitated. Call first to ensure orphan/behavior status.

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If a squirrel needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the animal anything – including water. Infant squirrels will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Waterfowl

We have numerous different species of ducks and geese in Minnesota. The information provided is meant to be a general guide for most species of waterfowl that hatch young that are feathered, able to walk around, and eat on their own, but are still completely dependent on their parents for waterproofing and protection (precocial birds).

1. Any obviously-injured birds(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility.  If the bird is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the bird to a rehabilitator/facility immediately despite whether there is a visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

2. If you find a baby duckling, gosling, etc. wandering around alone, it is orphaned and needs to be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator or facility. After hatching, it is the baby’s job to keep up with mom and the rest of the family. If they fall behind or get separated, they get left behind. Do not place the baby in a pond with other waterfowl present in order to reunite them unless you are absolutely certain that it is the orphan’s family. Often an adult may appear interested in the baby, but it could be another family just checking out what is going on.

Adult waterfowl have been known to attack orphans if you attempt to reunite them with a family that is not theirs. Also, if the baby fell behind once, it is more likely to happen again. It is best to bring the baby in for care.

3. Migratory birds are protected under federal law. It is illegal to disturb a migratory bird nest after it has laid eggs. If you have concerns about a nest, contact a wildlife rehabilitator, rehabilitation facility, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), or the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) for advice.

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If an animal needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes, DO NOT FEED the animal(s) anything – including water. Infants will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

Woodchucks

Woodchucks are a member of the squirrel family. They are mostly vegetarians and often have an affinity for people’s gardens, but are known to eat eggs and baby birds when the opportunity arises. To prevent woodchucks from visiting your garden, it is advised to build a strong fence that is buried beneath the ground. It will be more work initially but should last many years to come to protect your hard work! Woodchucks nest in burrows that have many different rooms – including a specific latrine area for hygienic purposes. Often the entrance to their den is under a shed, deck, or structure to help hide it from predators. They have one litter of babies per year.

1. Any obviously injured-woodchuck(s) should be brought immediately to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or rehabilitation facility. If the woodchuck is known or suspected to have been attacked by a cat (or in cat’s mouth), bring the animal to a rehabilitator/facility immediately despite whether there is a visible injury. Bacteria from a cat’s mouth can cause a fatal infection in a very short time and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent death.

2. If you find a suspected orphan woodchuck, contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility to discuss the situation. Woodchucks are on their own at a few months of age. If they appear healthy and energetic, they are likely striking out on their own. If the juvenile appears lethargic, weak, or sickly, it may need to be brought to a wildlife rehabilitator or facility.

*It is against the law to keep wild animals except to transport them to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator or facility. If an animal needs rehabilitation, place it in a secure container with air holes. DO NOT FEED the animal(s) anything – including water. Infants will need a mild heat source (heating pad on low under half the container or warm water bottle) until they can be transported. Bring it as soon as possible to a permitted rehabilitator or facility for professional care.

NUISANCE animals

Click here for a list of Minnesota Rehabilitators & Facilities
COYOTES & FOX

Coyotes & Fox inhabit urban neighborhoods due to the encroachment of housing developments into their habitats. Although they rarely pose a threat to humans unless approached, coyotes can pose a threat to small dogs and cats that are outside unmonitored or free-roaming. If you have a fox or coyote in your neighborhood it is best to alert your neighbors to their presence, teach children to respect wildlife, never approach or harass them, and follow the tips below.

Do not feed the coyotes or fox.

Keep all dog/cat food inside, especially at night.

Secure garbage cans with tight fitting lids; preferably keep them in a garage or enclosure so they cannot be tipped over.

Keep compost in a fenced area or a large secure container, not open piles.

Clean up around bird feeders – coyotes will eat spilled bird seed.

Don’t let your pets roam free outdoors; occasionally coyotes will kill small dogs or cats. Also watch your pets while outside if you know coyotes are present in your area.

If you see a fox/coyote make lots of noise and scare it away – do not let them become habituated to people.

Fences greater than 6’ tall with no gaps at ground level (they are good diggers) will help keep them out of your yard.

DEER

Listed below are a variety of non-toxic methods that will assist with deterring deer.

Any solution that is applied or sprayed on an area will need to be reapplied after rain. These recipes should also not be used on plants used for human consumption as they will affect the taste, hence why they deter the deer!

Fish based deterrent:
3 Tbsp finely ground kelp
1 Cup fish emulsion 
3 Tbsp IvoryTM
Mix and add enough water to make spraying easy. Apply directly to plants and trees.

Blood based deterrent:
1 Tbsp dried blood (garden stores)
4 cloves powdered garlic
2 gallons cool water
Mix ingredients into water and spray onto desired areas. Use sparingly as this recipe may burn plants due to its high nitrogen content.

Pepper based deterrent:
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp kelp
3 Tbsp liquid hand soap
1⁄2 Tsp oil of peppermint (not peppermint extract)
1 pint warm water
Mix ingredients together and spray onto desired areas.

Plants that naturally deter deer: Rotunda Chinese Holly, Foxglove, Mexican Oregano, Mint, Wormwood, Spearmint, Lemon Thyme, Madagascar Periwinkle, Artemisias, and a variety of thorny bushes

DUCKS & GEESE

If the geese or ducks are eating spillage from a feeder, the solution is simple: take down the feeder, clean up the area, and put up a windsock, flag, or metallic streamers that provide lots of random motion in the area. If the food source is removed, or you use a catch tray under the feeder, their desire to congregate in your yard will be decreased.

If you live near a pond or lake one of the best ways to keep waterfowl out of your yard is to block access to and from the water with a low hedge row. Check with your local nursery for plant suggestions. Low hedges can be kept short enough to maintain the view of the pond or lake you enjoy, but will discourage waterfowl from coming into your yard.

Don’t let the geese or ducks get comfortable in your yard and make a habit of visiting you. Never feed them. If they do land in your yard, run out into your yard making noise with pots and pans or verbal yells. The birds may hiss, but they will fly away quickly when they feel threatened.

GOPHER & MOLE

Listed Below are multiple deterrents for Gophers and Moles:

Odor deterrent:
1 Tbsp oil of peppermint (not peppermint extract)
1 Tsp chili powder
1⁄2 ounce Tabasco Sauce
1 Pint cold water
Mix ingredients together and dip cotton balls into the solution. Drop the cotton ball down a gopher or mole hole. You can also place drops oil of peppermint or Cintronella on cotton balls and place into holes as well.

Rodent Rocks: This commercial product is lava rocks that have been treated with a garlic and onion solution that produces an offensive odor to the gophers and moles. Bury the rocks about 6 inches down in areas where they have been feeding on your plants. Rain amounts may affect the product’s efficacy.

Pepper based deterrent:
Cover all holes with a rock.
Mix 1 pound cayenne pepper with 1⁄4 pound garlic powder.
Lift each rock, spray mixture into hole, and recover with rock. Do not water the area for 24 hours after the treatment.

Colored Bottles:
Burying colored glass bottles around a garden has been effective in deterring gophers and moles. They apparently see their reflection and get scared away. Bury the bottle about 6” underground.

Sound Waves:
Moles and gophers are sensitive to sound waves so placing a radio underground playing music very loudly will assist in getting them to vacate your yard. You can bury the radio in a plastic bag – be safe regarding rain and the use of electrical appliances! There are also commercially available poles you can insert into the ground that emit sonic tones.

Used kitty litter:
Try placing used kitty litter into a mole tunnel. The scent will deter them.

Control the Grubs:
Grubs are the main food source for moles. If you take action to curb your grub population the mole population will follow.

NESTING BIRDS

If a bird is in the process of building a nest in a problem area but no eggs are present the nest can be taken down. This may take a little repeating but the bird will quickly get the idea this area is not suited for raising a family.

If eggs or infants are present the nest must be left alone. Almost all species of songbirds and migratory waterfowl are protected by federal law under the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. The average egg incubation period for songbirds is about two weeks, however each species is different. Luckily songbirds are very quick to grow up, most fledge and leave the nest about two weeks after hatching, proving to be a short term inconvenience. After the babies have left, the nest can be removed and prevention techniques implemented to stop future nesting.

While rearing young some birds may dive-bomb human “intruders”. This behavior is meant to frighten you away, and often it is frightening, but the birds will rarely actually make contact with you.

Ducks and Geese can pose a slightly increased inconvenience as the incubation period for their eggs is about 25-30 days however after the babies have hatched the mother will lead her young to a nearby water source and not return to the nest.

Placing vertical sticks or twigs in potted or hanging plants can also help prevent nest building. Metallic streamers hung in a twisted fashion while secured at both ends will serve as a visual deterrent from an area as well.

OPPOSUMS

The Virginia Opossum is a nomadic animal. They do not hold territories like many other animals do. Because of this fact the only reason an opossum would be staying in an area for an extended time would be due to a reliable food source, most often human related. They are usually wandering through and if left to their own devices will disappear in a few days. People are often concerned about opossums carrying rabies. Scientific studies have shown that, although possible, it is very difficult for an opossum to contract and carry the rabies virus. Their low body temperature is suspected to be the reason for their natural resistance to the disease. With that being said, it is always imperative to protect yourself from an animal bite of any kind.

To discourage opossums from coming around your yard:

Do not feed the opossum, on purpose or not. They are scavengers and will eat almost anything.

Keep all dog/cat food inside, especially at night.

Secure garbage cans with tight fitting lids; preferably keep them in a garage or enclosure so they cannot be tipped over.

Keep compost in a fenced area or a large secure container, not open piles.

Clean up around bird feeders 

If seen in your yard, either leave alone or make loud noises to scare them away.

RABBITS

Rabbits chewing on tree trunks: place half-inch hardware cloth around the trunks of these trees. Make sure you bring the hardware cloth up high enough on the tree trunk to protect it from mammals that will stand on their hind legs to chew. Please remember that your tree trunks may be growing, so apply the hardware cloth loose enough to allow for any growth.

Rabbits chewing on your flowers or decorative plants: spray these plants with a mild solution of 2 parts water to 1 part plain (non-soapy) cleaning ammonia. It is non-toxic and discourages chewing because it tastes terrible. Re-apply after a rain shower. Do not spray on human food plants, as it will affect the taste. However, you can spray around the border of people food gardens.

If you have large human-food gardens, consider fencing it with 1/2-inch hardware cloth. To discourage the mammals from digging under the fence, bury part of the fencing under the ground. Initially it will be more work, but it also will result in a sturdier, more effective fence that will serve you longer.

RACCOONS

Raccoons are a clan animals. They live in groups of several adult individuals, as well as juveniles, and are very dedicated and dependent upon family ties for survival, protection and nurturing. For this reason we strongly discourage live trapping and relocating of raccoons. Studies done by the Humane Society of the United States have shown that more than 90% of relocated raccoons die within a short time in alien territory that is habitat to other resident raccoon clans. Many of them die on roads in their desperate attempts to get back to the safety of their own clan. Many others are killed by the resident raccoon clans protecting their territory. 

If you have a raccoon that is alone and disoriented in your yard and has discharge from its eyes or nose, this raccoon may have the distemper virus and needs immediate help. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator or facility for advice.

To discourage raccoons from coming around your yard:

  • Keep all dog/cat food inside, especially at night.
  • Secure garbage cans with tight fitting lids; preferably keep them in a garage or enclosure so they cannot be tipped over.
  • Freshly laid sod can attract raccoons as there may be worms or grubs underneath it. If raccoons are damaging sod it is an indicator of the presence of grubs that need to be addressed. With the grubs taken care of, the raccoons should no longer be attracted to your sod.
SQUIRRELS

To prevent from squirrels from climbing a certain tree place a metal band around the trunk at least 2 feet wide and 6-8” off the ground. This will only work if there are not other trees in close proximity they can jump from.

Pepper based deterrent:
1 quart warm water
2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1⁄4 tsp Tabasco Sauce
Mix together and allow to cool. Spray onto decorative plants to discourage chewing.

Sprinkling blood meal in and around your garden can help keep squirrels away.

Squirrels disturbing your bird feeder: the most effective solution is to feed the squirrels away from your bird feeder. This way the squirrels will be satisfied and have no need to go to the bird feeder. There are also commercially available “squirrel proof” bird feeders, however it does seem like it’s always a matter of time until the squirrels figure out how to get to the feed

WOODCHUCKS

The woodchuck is the largest member of the squirrel family we have in Minnesota. In the spring woodchuck kits are born. They spend their early life underground and usually are not seen by humans until they are exploring with both their parents outside their dens. Both the parents participate in raising the young.

Woodchucks chewing on your flowers or decorative plants: spray these plants with a mild solution of 2 parts water to 1 part plain (non-soapy) cleaning ammonia. It is non-toxic and discourages chewing because it tastes terrible. Re-apply after a rain shower. Do not spray on human food plants, as it will affect the taste. However, you can spray around the border of people food gardens.

If you have large human-food gardens, consider fencing it with 1/2-inch hardware cloth. To discourage the mammals from digging under the fence, bury part of the fencing under the ground. Initially it will be more work, but it also will result in a sturdier, more effective fence that will serve you longer.

To discourage nesting under a porch or shed place ammonia soaked rags into tin cans and roll them into the den. The mother will not appreciate the smelly atmosphere and will move her young to another site.

Place clear glass jars filled with water (seal the top) around the areas you are having problems with visiting woodchucks. The appearance of their reflection will scare them away.

Planting garlic and onion plants where you do not want the woodchuck to visit will help keep them away. They do not like certain plants from the allium family.

Placing blood meal or talcum powder near a burrow can also help deter woodchucks.

WOODPECKERS

If you have woodpeckers pecking on your house, check carefully for insect infestation in the area. You may have an insect or a carpenter ant problem.

If you rule out a major insect problem, then the woodpecker is probably doing something called “drumming”. This is the way woodpeckers communicate and announce their territory. Unfortunately, if not frightened off, the woodpecker can eventually damage your house. If the woodpecker is drumming in one specific spot, try inflating a couple of balloons, tying them on a string and hanging them from the gutters or siding near where the woodpecker is drumming.

Windsocks, flags or strips of aluminum foil dangling in the wind all work well. Keep these items in place for several days and the woodpecker should get the message to go do his drumming elsewhere.

Another trick is to spray a solution of 2 tablespoons white vinegar with 1 quart water into the holes and around the area they frequent.

options for evacuating wildlife

WILDLIFE IN YOUR HOUSE OR GARAGE

1.  Let the mother raise her young and after they vacate, clean out the area and seal the entrance.

2.  Place a radio close to the inhabited area and tune to a talk radio station. Leave the radio going for 72 hours. This noise sends the message this area is unsafe for a mother and her young.

3.  Place ammonia soaked rags in aluminum cans in and around the inhabited area. The ammonia creates an unpleasant smell and the mother will want to raise her young elsewhere.

4.  Once the animals have vacated clean out the area and repair the entrance.

5.  Hire a humane pest resolution service. It is of utmost importance that you choose a service that will reunite the young with their mother and offer solutions to your particular situation. See our recommendations for choosing a pest resolution service below.

CHOOSING A PEST RESOLUTION SERVICE

Can they offer a long term solution? A high quality service should be able to provide you with not only the removal of the problem animal but ways to prevent future situations.

What if babies are present? Babies should never be walled up or left behind. The service should have a plan to safely retrieve the babies from the area.

Do they reunite infants with their mothers? Most often babies should be placed near the closed entrance for the mother to find and move to a new location. They should be provided with a gentle heat source and be checked on to ensure the mother has retrieved them. The mother should also be given ample time to facilitate the retrieval of her babies.

What does the service do if the mother has not come to retrieve her babies? They should offer to bring the infants to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or facility. You can always offer to bring them yourself as assurance they make it there.

How do you ensure no orphans are left behind? Steps should be taken to thoroughly check the area before repairing the entrance site.

What do they do with trapped animals? Relocation of trapped animals is NOT recommended. All animals should be released into their home territory (this should not pose any problems given a long term solution to your site has been implemented). Animals should not be euthanized unless for a public health concern or the situation legally requires it.

Do they treat animals humanely? Snares, glue traps or other trapping devices in disrepair should never be used. Live traps should be placed in areas to ensure comfort and safety for the animal.

How often are traps checked? If you report an animal in a trap, how quickly will the service respond?

LIVE TRAPS

We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:

It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number of any one species of animal (carrying capacity). Therefore, the relocated animal may not be able to compete and may die, and others animals may move into its place.

Live trapping frequently results in the death of a trapped and relocated animal due to the stress and trauma of the situation, carrying capacity of habitat introduced to, resident animals defending their territory, and food scarcity.

The spread of disease is a concern by unnaturally relocating animals.

The trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.

Animals can injure themselves frantically trying to escape live traps. This injury is not the intent of the trapper and often that animal then needs medical attention, rehabilitative care and occasionally surgery to repair the injury.

preventative measures

Check for areas around your home and garage where animals could borrow or nest including your patio, fireplace and furnace chimneys, overhangs, siding, areas of windows, fan and dryer exhaust vents, attic and crawl space entrances etc.

Keep Garage Doors Closed when not in use.

Cover Window Wells with the plastic covers that allow natural light to get to the area, but prevents small animals, birds, amphibians and from falling in and dying. The covers also protect the downstairs areas from heavy rain and seeping moisture.

Cover Fireplace & Furnace Chimneys. Chimney covers can be used year round and not affect chimney drafts.

Keep all domestic pet foods inside the home or garage in secure metal containers with covers. Remember many animals can chew through plastic containers.

Keep Garbage Covered. Try using bungee cords for closing tops that are not secure by themselves.

Before mowing, check your lawn for nesting bunnies, baby birds, or small amphibians. Make sure your lawn service is instructed to do same.

Protect your garden

Vegetable Garden

Build a Fence

The best, most effective and long lasting defence is to build a good fence!

We recommend using 1⁄2” hardware cloth. This type of material is strong enough to stop larger intruders from bending over a fence made of chicken wire or plastic.

Bury your fence at least 6 inches underground (18” for woodchucks) to prevent diggers.

The fence should be at least 3 feet high to protect against rabbits and woodchucks.

Deer can jump as high as 8 feet which poses a unique problem. Instead of a very tall or slanted fence use commercial heavy-weight deer netting. This will also help protect against birds and squirrels who visit your garden.

Repellent Plants

Some animals will be discouraged by “icky” plants and not bother venturing beyond them. This may work better for some species than others, and isn’t as fail-safe as a real fence.

Repellant plants may differ dependent upon the species but a few to try are: marigolds, some ornamental grasses, artemisia, tansy, yarrow, lilacs and evergreens. Edible plants such as mint, thyme, tarragon, oregano, dill, chives, onions and garlic can also be interplanted throughout the garden.

Netting

Netting Fruit producing trees can be covered by protective netting to prevent birds from eating your fruit. This will help deter squirrels as well but persistent squirrels may squeeze underneath or chew through the netting.

Decorative Plants

Spray

Decorative plants can be protected by spraying them with:

1 part regular non-soapy ammonia 

2 parts water

It will leave the plants tasting extremely bitter to animals. When using Ammonia you will be fertilizing as well because the chemical back bone of ammonia is nitrogen. Reapply after it rains.

Scent Deterrents

Bar soap can be hung around the perimeter of the garden and/or shaved onto the soil. Studies indicate that soaps containing coconut oil may actually attract deer so be careful in which soap you choose. The effective ingredient appears to be tallow but many suggest finding the smelliest soap you can that doesn’t contain coconut oil.

Predator scent deterrents include predator urine (most effective), blood-derived or fish products. There are many commercially available products that mimic or contain predator urine. These send the message to animals that there is a natural predator nearby and the area is unsafe to be around. A wide variety of products are available online and in stores.

Interested in rehabilitating wildlife?
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