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How to Effectively Prepare Your Home to Prevent Wildlife Conflicts

Wildlife likes your home as much as you do, and if there's access to food, water and shelter on your property, wildlife may be moving in with you in a few months. November is a key time to inspect your home or apartment for issues that could create wildlife problems in the spring. 

Use our 24-point Self Home Inspection Guide to check your home or apartment for potential problems. Or call WildCare Solutions to have us do it for you!

WildCare Solutions is a team of professional and humane wildlife responders who can check your home for problem areas and help you fix them. Best of all, all fees help fund WildCare's programs and animal hospital. 

Inspect your own home or call us at 415-453-1000 x23 today, or you may end up with new wildlife roommates in the spring.

WildCare Solutions Do It Yourself Guide

(Click for a printable PDF of this guide!)

Use this guide to help prevent wildlife conflicts. Repairs done properly in the fall and winter mean wildlife won’t see your home as a tempting shelter for spring’s baby season.

To follow the steps in this guide, you will be doing multiple circuits around your house, each one looking for specific things. Keep a paper and pencil with you to take notes as you go.

1. Do not seal ANY hole until you are completely sure that there are no animals inside.

2. Know what animals are local to your area and their habits. You’ll need to know which species prefer living in attics and which live under floors, and how small or big a hole you can expect different animals to climb through. Knowing which species are nocturnal and which are diurnal can help you feel confident no animal is inside asleep when you start repairs to seal an entry point.

3. Know the animals’ breeding times. Skunks start mating as early as January and February. Raccoon mating season starts soon after. Fall and winter are the perfect times to do repairs, as it’s unlikely any animals will have helpless young in dens. If it’s spring or summer, we highly recommend you call a professional like WildCare Solutions, so babies will not be accidentally orphaned.

4. During the first circuit of your home and out-building(s), inspect the baseline where construction meets ground. You are looking for potential entry points. Keep your eyes open for chewing, digging, tracks, scat and urine marks. Look carefully for dirty marks against walls where animals may have passed frequently and other activity that may indicate animals have been accessing parts of the building.

5. Check for loose and missing vent covers. These should be secured if loose, or replaced if damaged.

6. On the next circuit around your building, look outwards from the building to inspect the vegetation. You’re looking specifically for any indication that animals might be using trees or bushes as access to the house.

7. If necessary, trim trees a minimum of four feet away from structures and fences. Many animals can jump a three-foot or smaller gap.

8. Now do a circuit around the property looking up to inspect the soffits / eaves of the house. Look specifically for signs of chewing, and cracks or holes that squirrels, raccoons, etc. might use to get in. These should be sealed tightly (after making sure no animals are currently in residence).

9. Do a second pass around the soffits / eaves looking carefully at the join between the soffit and the roof. You’re looking for signs of bats. Any cracks larger than ¼” wide are potential bat access points. Look for staining on the wall under a possible access point, and bat droppings directly under the spot. It’s important to distinguish between bat and mouse droppings on the ground. They look almost identical!

10. Step back from the building and do a survey of the full exterior of the building. Check any part of the building that is a join or separate from the main block of the building – gables, pillars, balconies, vents, roof joints, chimney flashing and joins, decks, stairs, etc. Don’t forget the dryer, sub-floor and attic vents. Animals will always investigate joins, which are the weakest parts of a building’s construction. If an animal finds his way in, it will usually be at a weak point where structures join.

11. Replace damaged wood, siding and roofing. Even slightly raised siding and roofing may offer access to wildlife.

12. Caulk any gaps–anywhere–on the structure.

13. Seal any gaps or holes in the foundation. These are especially tempting entry points to digging animals like skunks.

14. Install a chimney cap.

15. Install metal flashing on vertical structures that could be climbed.

16. Store any food items in the house or in metal containers with lids that can be secured.

17. Sweep or rake up spilled bird seed daily.

18. Consider storing firewood in your garage or shed. Outside, it’s the perfect habitat for wildlife.

19. Attach ¼” wire mesh (hardware cloth) to the bottom of your deck and dig a trench around the deck, at least 12” – 18” deep (below ground level.) Then bend the mesh at a 90-degree angle away from the deck  into an ‘L’ shape. Make sure you have 18” – 24” of mesh as the bottom of the ‘L’ making a false bottom that animals can’t dig through. Then backfill with soil.

20. To keep wildlife out of your fenced yard and domestic pets in, consider a Coyote Roller™ fence topper.

21. Pick up fallen fruit from your trees daily.

22. Secure the lids of your trash cans, and wait until the morning of pick-up to put them out.

23. Store domestic animal food in the house or in metal containers with secure lids. Bring in pet food and water bowls at dusk (along with your pet!)

24. Close and lock pet doors at night–with your pet inside!


spacer2.gif Solutions graphic by Jenny Parks
  Click for a PDF of our 24-point Self Home Inspection Guide including this diagram.
  Bats being humanely excluded from a house. Photo Maggie Sergio
  Now is the last opportunity before fall to do the repairs that will keep wildlife outside this spring!
  Raccoon and baby in crawlspace. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Once animals have helpless babies, it is no longer humane (or even possible!) to evict them. This mother raccoon lived in a crawlspace until her babies were old enough to move. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Sealing a vent in a building. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Be sure to seal all exterior vents. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Bat in eaves. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Bats can enter your building through cracks as small as 1/4" wide. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Sealed hole in eaves. Photo by Alison Hermance
  This raccoon entry point was sealed with a one-way door to allow egress but not entrance. Photo by Alison Hermance
  Raccoon in chimney. Photo by Hal Brindley
  Install a chimney cap to prevent intruders of all stripes. Photo by Hal Brindley
  Skunk photo by Kirk McCabe
  Skunks like to dig-- an "L" shaped barrier will prevent their access. Photo by Kirk McCabe
  Cat and raccoons at a feeding station
  Wildlife will always be attracted to easy food sources. Bring pet food (and pets!) inside at night.