Over the last few weeks, I have been receiving an increasing number of calls about nuisance wildlife, especially armadillos. They tend to tear up our yards and leave holes, raccoons dig in our trash, moles and voles leave tunnels, and opossums steal our cat food. But how do we fix this? Where do we start?
First off, let’s think about why the animals are there in first place. Do they have food? Water? Shelter? If they are becoming nuisances, the answer is more than likely yes to at least one of those three things. Armadillos love to eat bugs, specifically white grubs, that live in the soil in your yard. So, if you have the grubs or other bugs present, you are more likely to attract the armadillos since they will see your yard as a place to eat. Raccoons will eat a wide variety of things, and this is one of the reasons you will find them digging through your trash if it is accessible to them (they will even open a lid that is easily moved). Opossums love cat or dog food and will have no problem coming onto your porch or into the garage to get the food if they have access to it.
Try and treat the root of the problem first. This is usually not the animal. Relocating or hunting the animal is an option (none of the three species I mentioned above are protected in Georgia, so they may be hunted year-round with no legal issues) but may not offer the long-term results you are likely looking for. If you do not treat the root of the problem, it is likely that a new critter will move in and take the place of the one you removed.
For those armadillo problems, consider treating the yard for grubs and cutting back on how much you may be watering. Watering will bring insects and grubs closer to the surface, making the armadillos dig for them. Making it hard to access your trash can keep the raccoons at bay. Do not leave trash bags sitting outside unprotected; use a can/bin with a lid. You can weigh down the lid with a rock or even use a bungee cord to secure the lid into place. Leaving cat food or dog food outside, whether it be in bowls or in bags, may attract opossums to your area. Make sure you keep the food in a sealed container to help with this issue. If you get rid of the food source, chances are the animals will move on somewhere else.
Fences/barriers are also an option in some cases, as well as things like bright lights, motion activated sprinklers, or even things like scarecrows. Removal or hunting the animals are usually options that can be taken as well as using repellents.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-278-7373 for more information on removal strategies, repellents, or animal signs in general.
Contact McKenzie Wheeler, UGA extension, Rockdale County, email@example.com.
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