Traps should be last resort

Herald staff

Homeowners faced by marauding moles or persistent raccoons might be tempted to call in the heavy firepower right away. But wildlife officials say traps should be a last resort when dealing with nuisance animals. Often the best way to deter such animals is to get rid of or protect the things that attract them.

If you do turn to traps, remember that with some animals, including beaver, coyotes, you need a license. Other animals, like muskrats and mountain beaver, can be trapped without a license.

Here are some tips for living with wildlife:

1. Don’t feed raccoons. Use garbage cans with tight lids, don’t feed pets outside, and don’t put food in open compost piles.

2. Block denning sites such as spaces under porches, houses, sheds and chimneys. Use 1/4 inch wire mesh, boards, or metal panels. Cap chimneys. To drive them out of a chimney, put a bowl of vinegar and a loud radio in the fireplace, and put a barrier across the fireplace shortly before nightfall. The raccoon should leave out the top.

3. Keep pets inside at night, and enclose duck and chicken coops.

4. To protect fruit trees or vegetable gardens, string a single strand of electric fence around the area, approximately 6 inches off the ground. Compact, easy-to-set-up kits are sold at home and garden stores.

5. Prevent damage to lawns by sprinkling cayenne pepper or laying chicken wire over parts of the lawn disturbed by raccoons digging for insects.

1. Don’t feed squirrels. To keep them from getting plant bulbs and seeds, cover seeds temporarily with wire mesh or netting and put chicken wire over areas where squirrels are digging up bulbs. For trees not close to other trees or fences, wrap a two-foot-tall metal cylinder around the tree, roughly six feet up from the ground.

2. Removing a squirrel from an attic. Call a professional. Or find where a squirrel is nesting, and try to scare it out by clapping or banging on the roof. If the animal leaves, then block up all the possible access holes. If you can’t find the animal, block up all holes but one active entrance. Then try one of several techniques: light the area, turn on a transistor radio, or put ammonia in a container in the area. When you are sure there animal has left, block up the final hole.

1. Poisonous mole baits are not very effective. Castor-oil-based repellents, mothballs, chewing gum but don’t work well as deterrents. Trapping is generally the only effective method for getting rid of moles.

2. If you are trapping an animal, make sure it’s in an active hole. Stomp down a hill in the afternoon, and by morning the active holes should have the dirt pushed back up.

1. Protect trees, dock pilings and other wooden structures with a low wire fence or wrap chain link fence, protective plastic or metal around the lower part of the tree.

2. Keep beaver from plugging a culvert with v-shaped fences of wire mesh at the two openings.

3. Don’t just destroy a beaver dam. The beaver will simply rebuild it.

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