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Recreation

Avoiding Wildlife Damage: Putting Out the Unwelcome Mat

Wildlife damage is an increasing problem due to expanding human populations and loss of wildlife habitat. Wildlife often finds our yards and gardens as rewarding substitutes for lost or changed habitats. The key to living with wildlife is learning to understand them.

Animals are opportunistic, and will take advantage of any source of food and shelter. Understanding the feeding habits, seasonal cycles, reproduction and other behavioral patterns will help you develop a strategy to prevent wildlife damage and live with wildlife.

Fencing is the foolproof method of protecting plants, trees and gardens from damage by non-climbing wildlife. Fencing must be high enough (usually 8 feet) to keep out the jumpers like deer. Burying a fence may be necessary to keep out the burrowers like ground squirrels, marmots and skunks. If fencing the entire property is out of the question, consider putting individual fences around trees and shrubs. As trees mature and get larger they are better able to withstand browsing and rubbing.

Keeping an active dog enclosed in a yard is a great deterrent to most wildlife.

During the summer water sprinklers, especially those with a concentrated jet activated by motion detectors, have been effective to deter deer and other wildlife.

In the winter, animals may be looking for a warm place to stay. Protect you home by capping chimneys and sealing entrances to attics and crawl spaces and removing food sources. the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife discourages homeowners from using feeders intended for mammals.

Sometimes a program of harassment with tennis balls, paint ball guns and other non-lethal methods can effectively deter wildlife.

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Authored by John Ame, science writer