Evacuating Nuisance Wildlife

Evacuating nuisance wildlife

The following information can be used to humanely evacuate or deter wild animals from inhabiting chimneys, attics, garages, overhangs, under porches/decks, etc.  

You have a couple different options when managing wildlife that has nested in your house. One option is to let the mother raise her young and after they vacate, clean out the area and seal the entrance (chimney cap or carpentry work) to prevent other animals from using this area in the future. If you need the animals vacated, the next two ideas should be used in conjunction with each other for optimal success. Place a radio as close to the inhabited area as possible and tune it to a talk radio station (WCCO works best in the metro area). Turn the volume up as loud as possible. Leave the radio going for 72 hours straight. This noise sends the message this area is unsafe for a mother and her young. The other method, to be used in conjunction with the radio, is to place ammonia soaked rags in tin cans in and around the inhabited area. The ammonia creates an unpleasant smell and atmosphere and the mother will want to raise her young elsewhere. Again, clean out the area and repair the entrance. Your last option would be to 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. Click here for information on choosing a pest resolution service.

We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:

  1. It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
  2. 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. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
  3. We have seen an increase in animals that 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.

Nuisance Rabbits

Nuisance rabbits

If the rabbit is not injured and you have a nuisance situation, here are some tips:

If you are having problems with rabbits chewing on tree trunks place half-inch hardware cloth around the trunks of these trees. It will protect the delicate tree trunk from a number of chewing mammals, including rabbits. 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.

If you are having problems with rabbits chewing on your flowers or decorative plants, spray these plants with a mild solution of 2/3 water to 1/3 plain (non-soapy) cleaning ammonia. It is non-toxic and discourages chewing because it tastes terrible. Remember that rain will dilute your spraying and neutralize its effect, so you may have to 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.

We discourage live trapping rabbits for the following reasons:

  1. It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
  2. Live trapping frequently results in the death of a trapped and relocated animal due to the stress and trauma of the situation. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
  3. We have seen an increase in animals that 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.

Animal Humane Society's Golden Valley location provides care for all wild animals except skunks. We will provide phone advice for skunk situations. Please bring your wild animal directly to the Golden Valley location. If you need further advice or assistance you may call the Wildlife Exam at (763) 489-2223.

Nuisance Ducks and Geese

Nuisance ducks and geese

The most common problem with geese is that they are there — and their droppings are there too! If you are having a serious problem with geese or ducks in your yard, there are several things you can do to discourage them.

If the geese or ducks are eating spillage from an existing 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, the problem is more complex, 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. Lastly, 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.

Animal Humane Society's Golden Valley facility provides care for all wild animals except skunks. We will provide phone advice for skunk situations. Please bring your wild animal directly to the Golden Valley location. If you need further advice or assistance you may call the Wildlife Exam at (763) 489-2223.

Choosing a Pest Resolution Service

Choosing a pest resolution service

The following are recommended questions to ask any service before hiring them to remove nuisance wildlife. The answers provided here would indicate a humane service.

1. Can you offer a long term solution to my situation?

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.

2. What do you do if there are babies present?

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

3. Do you 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 had retrieved them. The mother should also be given ample time to facilitate the retrieval of her babies.

4. 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 insurance they make it there.

5. How do you ensure no orphans are left behind?

Steps should be taken to thoroughly check the area before repairing the entrance site.

6. If an animal must be trapped, what do you do with it?

Relocation of trapped animals is strongly 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.

7. How do you make sure animals are treated 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. For example, traps should not be placed in areas where there will be direct sunlight for many hours — this could result in heat stroke and possibly death for the trapped animal. Infants should be handled gently and provided a safe spot until the mother returns for them. It should not be assumed the mother returns for her young, they must be checked on.

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

Traps should be checked a minimum of every 12 hours. Animals become very frightened and stressed while in a trap and many will injure themselves trying to escape.

9. What guarantee do they offer on their work?

Protecting Your Garden

Protecting your garden

Many gardeners are upset by their wild neighbors’ enthusiasm for their gardens. In fact, the opposite stance should be taken — it's a compliment to your green thumb! Wild animals unfortunately cannot distinguish between your plants and their food source but with a little careful planning we can all live in peace and enjoy what our backyards have to offer. The main rule is: know who your wild neighbors are, learn their habitats and their tastes, and recognize any potential problems before they happen or early before the animals establish habits of invading your garden. In Minnesota we have a variety of species that can launch an assault on your garden. Rabbits, woodchucks, deer and squirrels seem to be our main culprits although many humane solutions exist to ease this conflict.

Vegetable gardens

The best, most effective and long lasting advice we have for you is build a good fence! A good fence will last many years with minimal upkeep and solve almost all of your problems! We strongly recommend using ½ inch hardware cloth. This type of material is a little more expensive but it is strong enough to stop any larger intruders from bending over a fence made of something like chicken wire or plastic.  Also burying your fence at least 6 inches underground (18 inches for woodchucks) will prevent any particularly persistent offenders from digging under. 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 so a less expensive solution than building a very tall or slanted fence would be to utilize commercial heavy-weight deer netting. This will also help protect against birds and squirrels who visit your garden.

If a man-made fence is displeasing to you, you can try utilizing a natural fence, by strategically planting “yucky” plants around the tasty ones. This will take a little research to find who your main culprits are and what they dislike but marigolds, some ornamental grasses, artemisia, tansy, yarrow, lilacs and evergreens can offer protection. Basically the animals will get discouraged by the “icky” plants and not bother venturing beyond them. Be advised this may work better for some species than others, and isn’t as fail-safe as a real fence.

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

Decorative plants can be protected by spraying them with 1 part regular non-soapy ammonia to 2 parts water. This is something that will take a little maintaining as it will need to be reapplied after it rains. It will leave the plants tasting extremely bitter, which is why it works to deter the animals from eating them. Not only that, but you will actually be aiding the plants while keeping animals away as the chemical backbone of ammonia is nitrogen and this acts as a fertilizer!

Scent deterrents

There are two types of deterrents — those that signal danger to the animal, and those that interfere with their sense of smell, making them unable to smell danger. Offensive repellents include bar soap, dirty clothes or human hair. In urban areas human scent will most likely not deter the animals as they are habituated to our smell. 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. Repellent plants are those that are highly aromatic such as perennial herbs such as artemisia, tansy, and yarrow. Culinary herbs such as mint, thyme, tarragon, oregano, dill, and chives can also be interplanted throughout the garden. Many animals do not like onions or garlic so plants of that variety may also offer protection.

Predator scent deterrents include predator urine (most effective), blood-derived or fish products, processed sewage, and slaughter waste. Be advised that handling sewage or slaughter waste is dangerous as they likely contain harmful bacteria and microorganisms and therefore are not recommended, not to mention they may attract scavengers such as raccoons and coyotes. 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.

We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:

  1. It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
  2. 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. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
  3. We have seen an increase in animals that 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.

Nuisance Woodchucks

Woodchuck deterrents

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.

  • If you are having problems with woodchucks chewing on your flowers or decorative plants, spray these plants with a mild solution of 2/3 water to 1/3 plain (non-soapy) cleaning ammonia. It is non-toxic and discourages chewing because it tastes terrible. Remember that rain will dilute your spraying and neutralize its effect, so you may have to reapply 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 human food gardens. If you have large human-food gardens, consider fencing it with 1/2-inch hardware cloth. Woodchucks are great diggers so be sure to 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 long-term.
  • 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.

We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:

  1. It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
  2. 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. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
  3. We have seen an increase in animals that 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.

Nuisance Squirrels

Squirrel deterrents

To prevent 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 spray
1 qt. warm water
2 tbs. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. Tabasco Sauce™
Mix together and allow standing and cooling for a few hours. Spray onto decorative plants to discourage chewing.

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

If squirrels are visiting or disturbing your bird feeder the most effective solution is to feed the squirrels away from your bird feeder.  Unfortunately animals can not understand that the food you are placing in your yard is not meant for them. 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.

We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:

  1. It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
  2. 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. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
  3. We have seen an increase in animals that 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.

Nuisance Opossums

Opossum deterrents

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.
  • Store pet food in secure containers with tight fitting lids, preferably inside your home or garage.
  • 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.


We strongly discourage live trapping for the following reasons:

  1. It is futile. Studies have found that an area or habitat will hold a limited number (carrying capacity) of any one species of animal. It will hold no more than that because the over-abundant population is reduced by food scarcity and predators. But the fact that is even more significant is that the area or habitat will also hold no fewer than the established number. So, by live trapping and taking some animals from the area other animals of that species will move in.
  2. 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. Also, another special concern is the spread of disease by unnaturally relocating animals. Add to that death count the fact that the trapped animal may be a lactating female who leaves behind babies to the painful death of starvation and dehydration.
  3. We have seen an increase in animals that 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.

Nuisance Woodpeckers

Nuisance woodpeckers

If you have woodpeckers that are pecking on your house, one of several problems could be present. First, check carefully for insect infestation in the area in which the woodpeckers are pecking. Many home owners think they have a woodpecker problem when they really have a “bug” 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 tbs. white vinegar with 1 qt. water into the holes and around the area they frequent.

Nuisance Nesting Birds

Nuisance nesting birds

Many birds will nest in areas that may be less than convenient for people. Prevention is the key to this situation.

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. 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.

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 their 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. Due to their small size an impact would more likely result in injury to the bird, it would be extremely unlikely for a human to get injured. A person can always wear a thick coat and a hat for additional protection if one feels necessary.

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.

If a bird has nested inside an air vent the same methods should be followed. A screen placed over the vent slats will prevent future usage.

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