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Problem Wildlife in the Garden and Yard

Although many people enjoy seeing birds at feeders or deer in their yard, some wildlife can cause problems. Wildlife can upset homeowners if they stray into gardens or landscaped areas and cause damage. Wild animals can dig in gardens or under structures, damaging plants and property. Some animals may only cause problems during breeding season or when they raise young. Animals are drawn to gardens and yards because they provide food, water, or shelter. Wildlife can be very persistent, even if harassed. Changes to your yard or garden may be necessary to make your property less attractive to them.

Tips to prevent and deal with nuisance wildlife:

  • Identify your pest first. Different species have very different habits and needs, which can help you choose a control strategy. Your local Cooperative Extension Service or state wildlife agency can help.
  • Keep your garbage in a can with a tight-fitting lid that cannot be opened by animals.
  • Bird feeders and suet blocks may attract raccoons, possums, or even bears. Store birdseed in a metal trashcan or another secure container.
  • Squirrels CAN be excluded from bird feeders. Hang bird feeders where only birds can reach them. Decide if squirrel baffles or trick poles will work for your property.
  • Birdbaths, fountains, or pet water bowls may attract unwanted wildlife, especially when water is scarce.
  • Place birdbaths where wildlife cannot reach them or provide water away from the home to help discourage problem wildlife.
  • Fencing, plant choice, and landscape design can help make your garden and yard less attractive to wildlife. Your Cooperative Extension Service or Master Gardener may have suggestions for your area.
  • Sturdy fencing may be needed to protect plants in your garden or yard. Electric fencing may be helpful for persistent wildlife.
  • If you choose to use a repellent, be sure the product can be used where and how you want to use it. Repellents for cats and dogs may be very different from those meant to repel deer and rabbits.
  • Consider getting a professional involved. Someone with experience trapping and handling wildlife can be very helpful.
  • Your county may have resources for 'animal control.' Consider contacting them to find out.
  • Always read and follow the label when using a pesticide, including animal repellents. Mothballs cannot be used outside as animal repellents; always read the label.

Information on Specific Types of Wildlife

If you have questions about pesticides, or any pesticide-related topic, please call NPIC at 1-800-858-7378 (8:00am - 12:00pm PST), or email us at npic@ace.orst.edu.

Last updated April 26, 2017

Wildlife in the Yard and Garden

  • Identify your pest. The animal's needs and habits will help you choose the best control method.
  • Treat the problem, not the symptom. Remove food, water, or shelter the animal is using. They will need to find these resources somewhere else.
  • Always cover trashcans with a tight-fitting lid. Use metal cans where wildlife chew through other materials.
  • Store birdseed and pet food indoors or in secure containers. Don't leave pet food outdoors overnight.
  • Fence sensitive areas like food gardens. Some wildlife may require an electric fence.
  • Remove water sources like birdbaths or fountains if animals are attracted to them.
  • Landscape with plants that are less appetizing for wildlife.
  • Never corner a wild animal. If you need to remove an animal, contact a professional.

If you choose to use a pesticide, read the label before you buy. Try a lower toxicity product first.

If you have a pesticide product in mind, have your label handy and click here for information about that product.

County Extension Offices

Through its county agents, the Cooperative Extension Service gives individuals access to the resources at land-grant universities across the nation. These universities are centers for research in many subjects, including entomology (the study of insects) and agriculture. Each county within the United States has an Extension office, which is staffed with agents who work closely with university-based Extension specialists to deliver answers to your questions about gardening, agriculture, and pest control. You can find the phone number for your local county extension office in the local government section (often marked with blue pages) of your telephone directory or by clicking on the map below.

Alaska Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Hawaii Arizona Colorado New Mexico Texas Oklahoma Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Puerto Rico Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Mississippi Tennessee North Carolina Alabama Georgia South Carolina Florida American Samoa Guam N. Mariana Islands US Virgin Islands Wisconsin Illinois Michigan Indiana Kentucky Ohio West Virginia Pennsylvania Virginia Washington D.C. Maryland Delaware New Jersey Conneticut Rhode Island Massechusetts Massachusetts Connecticut New York New Jersey Maryland Washington DC Delaware Vermont New Hampshire Maine Vermont New Hampshire
Small Map of US States

U.S. States:

AK | AL | AR | AZ | CA | CO | CT | DE | FL | GA | HI | IA | ID | IL | IN | KS | KY | LA | MA | MD | ME | MI | MN | MO | MS | MT | NC | ND | NE | NH | NJ | NM | NV | NY | OH | OK | OR | PA | RI | SC | SD | TN | TX | UT | VA | VT | WA | WI | WV | WY | Washington D.C. |

U.S. Territories:

Puerto Rico | American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands | Virgin Islands

Information on Specific Types of Wildlife

Additional Resources:


Deer

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Gophers

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Moles

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Opossums

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Rabbits

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Raccoons

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Skunks

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Squirrels

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Voles

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Woodchucks / Groundhogs / Marmots

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Related Topics:

What are pests?

Learn about a pest

Identify a pest

Control a pest

Integrated Pest Management

What are pesticides?

Herbicides

Disinfectants

Fungicides

Insecticides

Natural and Biological Pesticides

Repellents

Rodenticides

Other types of pesticides

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