Preventing Wildlife Problems in Buildings
Raccoon, squirrels, mice, bats and snakes can be a nuisance to homeowners and farmers. When the animals enter buildings they can cause structural problems and create health risks for the occupants.
Wildlife enters a building because they are seeking food and shelter or they may be just exploring the neighborhood. Whatever the reason, you just want them to leave as soon as possible.
The damage wildlife can do to buildings include a simple nuisance like making noise, to significant property damage. They can chew woodwork, plastics, make nests in insulation or even cause fires when they chew into electrical wires. Some animals carry parasites that can transmit diseases to people. Other times the fecal droppings discolor the building interior or exterior or cause odor and sanitation problems.
The steps to resolve wildlife problems include, inspect, remove and exclude. Effective exclusion is the best approach to prevention of structural wildlife problems. Inspections can be conducted by the homeowner or a professional who has experience in resolving human wildlife conflicts. Many of today's wildlife professionals also will repair or modify the building to prevent repeat offences from unwanted animals.
The basic equipment you will need to conduct your own inspection includes a flashlight, mirror and a ladder. In some situations you may need a respirator or goggles. Your local extension office has a number of resources available to help you identify animal signs including tracks or fecal material.
To remove the offending animals you can use a live box trap, one way door, a toxicant or a repellent. A number of public animal control agencies have live box traps available to loan home owners at no charge.
Good home construction and maintenance techniques are the best method to keep wildlife out of buildings. Spray foam and steel or copper wool make quick temporary fixes to the small cracks and crevices that some wildlife use to enter a structure. Chimney caps prevent many animals for finding their way into your home. Make sure pet doors are not the source of the problem. Raccoons sometimes learn to use the pet doors you thought could only be used by your pets. Remember, by preventing the problem, you save time and money.
For more information on prevention and control wildlife damage go to Kansas State University Publications and Videos http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/library and search for wildlife damage control.
See also University of Missouri Extension article "Combat Wildlife Damage with Common Sense Control Methods" http://agebb.missouri.edu/hort/meg/archives/v8n11/meg1.htm.