PA Game Commission Issues Guidance To Deal With Nuisance Wildlife

Living in Pennsylvania means lots of wildlife, which also means a lot of wildlife problems, one of the most common being garden raiding. Here is the state-recommended way of dealing with nuisance wildlife.

Pennsylvanians have the common occurrence of garden raiding, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC). The usual suspects include rabbits, groundhogs, and deer, but raccoons and bears often make appearances for food sources such as sweet corn or berries. PGC recommends scarecrows or deterrents like hanging pie tins or spraying peppery liquids on plants as an inexpensive solution. Fences are also a go-to way to keep out these garden nuisances.  

According to PGC, live traps are another route commonwealth residents can take protections against these critters. Live traps have a variety of sizes and styles, including a cage-with-closing-door design. The PGC recommends live traps for residential areas because if you accidentally trap your neighbor’s pet, releasing it quickly and safely is easy. All you’ll have to do is open the door to the cage.

Animals like rabbits and squirrels can be caught and relocated, while other animals that carry rabies, such as raccoons, bats, groundhogs, foxes, and coyotes, cannot and should not be relocated. According to PGC, this is because vector species can spread disease. Residents can kill or release the captured vector species, although releasing may carry some risk. Captured skunks are apt to spray you, which is very unpleasant, and scratch or bite people, even when the captor is just trying to free the animal. Residents will have to either be deodorized or wait for test results on the trapped animal, determining if it’s rabid or not before releasing the animal.

There’s a chance that you could be sprayed by a skunk or bitten or scratched. What follows promises to be unpleasant. You’ll either have to be deodorized or anxiously await test results on the trapped animal’s brain tissue to determine if it’s rabid.

PGC recommends you ask yourself these questions before setting a trap to solve your garden raiding or wildlife invasion issue:

  1. Are you prepared to kill the trapped animal?
  2. Do you know how to dispose of an animal carcass?
  3. Do you know how to release a trapped animal?
  4. Do you know what bait should use to ensure you catch the problematic species?
  5. Do you know how often to check a trap set to capture wildlife?

According to PGC, Landowners and homeowners may not trap beavers, bobcats, migratory birds, big game, threatened wildlife, or endangered species. Landowners should contact the regional office serving the county before trapping nuisance wildlife. Any captured animals may not be retained alive, sold, or given away. Although, you may relocate them to a natural setting. If a resident kills any wildlife, you must notify the PGC.

Exclusion and trapping are probably the two most commonly used approaches for dealing with nuisance wildlife. According to PGC, exclusion, which is a method of animal proofing your home, can be effective for some species, such as rabbits, bats, squirrels, raccoons, chipmunks, groundhogs, Canada geese, and other waterfowl.

According to the PGC, this method does not always work, as some animals adjust to it. Timing is everything when using exclusion. During summer, bats make their way into your home. By using exclusion during this time, trapping the bats inside your home, leaving them to scamper throughout your house, searching for a way out. The same policy applies to maternity den animals such as skunks, raccoons, squirrels, and groundhogs. It is best to wait till fall before implementing exclusionary methods because the animals leave during this time when the young are older.

Animals like skunks, Canada geese, groundhogs, and moles take a different method to resolve the issue. Feces from Canada geese destroy yards located near water. To deal with this species exploding devices, scarecrows, and fencing are recommended. Federal protection laws for Canadian geese stop people from hunting them. Blue herons and great egrets eat expensive fish of property owners in rural areas and suburbs from residents’ backyard ponds. Putting rocks or other hiding material in the water for the fish to swim under or locating the pond closer to the house helps reduce this problem.  

Nuisance wildlife is a problem many Pennsylvanians face, but where there is a will, there is a way. Always remember, there is a proper way to deal with these invasive species.

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