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When Backyard Wildlife Behaves Badly

urban-squirrel-partyRaccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels and more…

…in Lexington, KY we love backyard wildlife, certainly they are charming; until we find them living in our crawl spaces, attics, scattering our garbage, eating pet foods or destroying our bird feeders and other property.  Then we just want them to go back to the “woods where they belong.” Unfortunately, they’ve adapted to urban and suburban environments quite well.  In fact, their numbers often are greater “in town” than out.  The result inevitably is conflict.

Our instincts and emotions push us toward catching them and releasing them somewhere else because we believe the animal will “live happily ever after.”  Unfortunately, that can be the most inhumane response of all.  We know through research that translocating wildlife, especially from urban and suburban areas, has an extremely high rate of mortality and risks exposing resident wildlife to serious disease threats (Massei et al. 2010).

Food sources and den structures of suburban and rural areas differ strikingly making it sometimes impossible for relocated animals to adapt.  They wander long distances in search of water, familiar foods and shelter.  They are killed or injured by others of their kind in territorial quarrels or on roadways.  They can introduce parasites or diseases to animals in an areas formerly free of such threats, and that can be catastrophic.

Trifecta Wildlife Services recommends letting a professional address nuisance wildlife problems in a science-based and ecologically ethical manner.  We aim to allow animals to remain within their home range when a wildlife issue can be solved through exclusion or other control measures that don’t require capture or trapping.  We of course respect the do-it-yourselfer ready to match wits with wildlife, but advise resident Kentucky landowners know that by law (KRS 150.170) they may kill or trap wildlife on their property that is causing damage without the requirement of a license or open season.  However, they must report the action to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources for instruction and proper disposition of the animal.  Trifecta Wildlife Services will also gladly assist you in matters of proper disposition of a captured animal or with dead-animal removal.

Protecting the health and welfare of people and Kentucky’s abundant and diverse wildlife is paramount, and how we address conflicts with nuisance animals can have significant impacts; let’s keep them positive!

Massei, G., R. J. Quy, J. Gurney, and D. P. Cowan. 2010. Can translocations be used to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts? Wildlife Research 37: 428-439.