Wildlife Control Ideas to Cope With Critters

Because wild critters aren't very good at respecting boundaries when you establish yourself in their environment, here are a handful of wildlife control methods to help you keep them out of your garden, home and livestock.

| February/March 2009

I’m a country person. Not a “40-acre homestead down a dirt road 10 miles from town” person but a “small town at the edge of the wilderness” person; I live on a half-acre homestead in a community of a few thousand people, adjacent to a national park. I built a home here in the early ’70s, and I’ve been reflecting lately on all the critters who’ve shared our homestead with us. I enjoy wildlife as much as the next guy, but like many things, only in moderation.

All around our place, fencing, netting, chicken wire, traps, potions, and tools are part and parcel of living at the edge of wilderness. We have to deter critters that want to eat our garden, kill our chickens, nest in the woodpile, burrow into our rafters, raid the pantry — you get the idea.

We’ve lived in northern California for 35 years and have many of the same animals found across the continent: rats, mice, skunks, raccoons, foxes, possums, bats, ants, termites, gophers, moles, hawks and others. They’re tolerable until they begin to pillage and destroy, and then we have to take action. In this ongoing dance, here are some effective methods of wildlife control for dealing with the invaders.

Rats and Mice

Oh yes! They have been part of the human equation from time immemorial and are survivors par excellence. (If we humans succeed in eliminating life on Earth, there’ll still be rats and cockroaches.) Rodents are immensely clever and adaptable, amazing in their ability to delicately remove food from a trap without springing it. We have chickens, with their feed spread on the ground, so rats relentlessly patrol the chicken coop and yard.

Maybe two or three times a year mice get into the pantry, where they’ll chew open packages of nuts or grains and leave tell-tale pellets.

I use standard traps, never poison; it makes an animal die from internal bleeding — cruel and unusual punishment. I generally have three to five traps set, either on vertical walls or horizontal passages (after a while you figure out their routes).

4/1/2016 8:51:07 AM

Whatever you do, if you want rodent control please don't think "cat." I saw a young cat attempting to get a rat to play with it last autumn. Chicago Animal Care and Control told me years ago (when I was researching a pamphlet about why cats should not be outside unattended) that cats are NOT effective predators of rats. Cats kill an estimated billion birds a year in the US, even belled, declawed, and/or well-fed cats. 80% of the feral cats in Ohio were recently found to have Toxoplasma gondii, their gut parasite that will "happily" and asexually reproduce in dogs, mice, and humans. 60% of the white-tail deer had it too, and Toxo is the second leading cause of foodborne-illness deaths in the country - something for hunters to soberly consider. These are just a few of the scientifically sound reasons unattended cats should be extirpated!

Kevin Kanarek
8/20/2012 6:08:13 PM

Got rid of squirrels in the attic by laying out lots of mothballs. Once I was sure they were GONE, sealed up all the holes. No dead squirrels either. Humane, So far, so good.

Sandy P
9/28/2010 12:41:33 PM

Although I don't have much ground to care for (townhouse), I still get my share of critters. My inside cats patrol and take care of any varmints that dare to enter the house. Outside and in various corners of the house such as doorways, between windows, attic, etc., I use mothballs. A couple of them down tunnels and the critter is gone. A few spread around the shed or garden barn and even the grasshoppers take leave. A few in the garden and any potential snackers disappear for less smelly food. Even roaches hate going into walls with mothballs in them.

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