Animal Living in Yard

Many wild animals have called Grapevine home long before homes and businesses were built.  We receive calls frequently with questions about these "neighbors".  Usually, people want to know how to remove the animal from their yard.

It is important to recognize that animals select an area to live because of the presence of the resources in that location. All wildlife needs three resources to survive: food, water, and cover. If a wild animal has become a nuisance and is causing property damage, consider making some simple habitat modifications to encourage the nuisance animals to move elsewhere. Habitat modification is usually easier and less expensive than some of the more extreme measures such as purchasing deterrents or traps. In some situations, wildlife may be present because you have unintentionally created a good habitat for them (i.e., provided the resources they prefer). "Evicting" nuisance wildlife may be as simple as changing tidying up your yard (keeping up with fallen leaves, trimming shrubs/hedges/trees, mowing grass) and cleaning up food sources such as bird feeders, pet food, and bbq grills so that you no longer provide desirable food or cover.

Reduce/Eliminate Hiding Places
Many rodents such as mice and rats appreciate tall grass, and once rodents have moved into an area where grass is mowed infrequently, unwanted predator animals such as snakes and birds of prey often follow. You can eliminate rodent infestations and discourage predator species from visiting by mowing more frequently. If mowing isn’t feasible, try using herbicides to keep weedy areas free of vegetation that small mammals use for food and cover. Stacks of firewood, brushpiles, heaps of lumber debris, or even rockpiles can provide ideal conditions for wildlife such as snakes and rodents (including mice and rats) who prefer moist, dark, cool conditions. Even larger mammals, such as raccoons and skunks, may create dens in woodpiles. Dismantling these piles, placing firewood piles on pallets or platforms above the ground, stacking the wood tightly, or moving these piles far from human structures will help prevent nuisance wildlife problems. Also, ensuring that the space underneath the deck is secured as well as any skirting around the home will greatly reduce conflicts. 

Reduce/Eliminate Food Sources
Human food, pet food, and bird seed can also attract wildlife to your home and yard. A number of simple precautions can reduce the likelihood of attracting unwelcome wildlife with food.

Garbage should be kept in wildlife-proof cans, and these cans should be secured at night so that animals cannot knock them over. Consider storing cans in a secure building. Also consider taking cans to the curb the morning of pickup rather than the evening before to limit access by nocturnal animals. Do not store food intended for humans or pets on screened porches. Clean barbeque grills after each use. Enclose compost piles in a framed box using hardware cloth, or put compost in a commercial composter to keep animals out.

Feed pets indoors. If outdoor feeding is absolutely necessary, feed pets during daylight hours and remove uneaten food before dusk to avoid attracting nocturnal mammals.

Watering Yards
If you’ve eliminated food and shelter attractants but nuisance animals are still visiting your yard, it may be that you are inadvertently attracting them by irrigating too frequently or at the wrong time of day. Soil invertebrates will move towards the soil surface of a lawn saturated with water, and moles create new tunnels close to the surface when the lawn is very wet. Worms and other invertebrates in the surface layers of the soil at night will attract armadillos or skunks from nearby, drier areas. Reducing the frequency and intensity of waterings could reduce pressure from moles, and avoiding watering in the evenings could reduce pressure from armadillos and skunks.

Using Repellents
We have had many residents have success with deterring wildlife through modifying the habitat along with using a repellent such as tennis balls soaked in ammonia and placed in the area where an animal is occupying, like under a deck.

Does Trapping Work?
Trapping and relocating animals several miles away may seem like an acceptable resolution to a wildlife conflict, but it actually created a multitude of problems.  The space in the ecosystem vacated by the trapped and relocated animal will quickly be filled by another and it may be less desirable than your original animal.  Relocated animals are separated from their mate, family, and food and water resources.  They are put into a position of unknown predators and unknown shelter.  Studies give less than a 50% chance of survival to relocated animals.