Wild animals need food and shelter just like people. Animals may move into basements, attics, or garages in search of a place to live. They may also be attracted to food such as garbage, pet food, or birdseed. When this happens, it’s not safe for the people or pets in the home or the wildlife. Wild animals can damage electrical wiring and destroy insulation. They can also carry diseases like rabies, or parasites such as fleas and ticks into your home. Never approach a wild animal and keep children and pets away from all wildlife. Contact your local animal control officer if you suspect a wild animal is sick. MT FWP Tips for Living with Wildlife.
The key to avoiding problem wildlife encounters is keeping unwanted wildlife out of homes, buildings, and yards.
- Do not feed wildlife! Feeding songbirds is okay but be aware it may attract other animals. Place bird feeders where they are not accessible to other wildlife species. Wild animals are capable of finding plenty of food on their own. Attract birds with natural food by adding native plants to your property. Plants provide healthy food and natural shelter for birds in ways that bird feeders can’t. Remove feeders immediately if a bear has been visiting them.
- Clean dirty barbeque grills!
- Don’t give wildlife the opportunity to get into your garbage. Store it in metal or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep the cans in a garage or shed and put trash out only when it’s scheduled to be picked up.
- Keep pet food inside. Lock up your doggy doors at night.
- Trim tree limbs away from buildings to prevent wild animals from gaining access to the roof/attic.
- Cover window wells with commercially available grates or bubbles or make a cover using quarter-inch hardware cloth or chicken wire.
- Close holes around and under the foundation of your home so that animals will not be tempted to homestead. Bury wire mesh one to two feet deep in places where animals might gain access.
- If birds are flying into windows, mark them with strips of white tape or with raptor silhouettes.
- Fence gardens and cover fruit trees with commercially available netting to protect your harvest.
- Screen fireplace chimneys and furnace, attic and dryer vents, and keep dampers closed to avoid “drop-in” guests. Chimney tops should be screened from February to September to prevent birds and animals from nesting inside. To prevent fire and safety hazards, check with a knowledgeable source before attempting this.
- Seal all cracks and holes larger than a one-quarter inch in diameter to keep out rats, mice, bats, and snakes.
- Protect hobby livestock with electrified enclosures.
Montana is Bear Country
All bears are potentially dangerous. The majority of human-bear conflicts involve bears protecting their young or a food source. The overwhelming majority of bear encounters do not involve conflict.
Living with Beavers
Beavers can become a problem if their foraging habits or building activities cause flooding or damage property. Foraging activity may result in damage to timber, crops, ornamental or landscape plants. Beaver dams and resulting elevated water levels may jeopardize the integrity of septic systems, roads, or other human structures or land use activities.
Deer can cause several types of problems in residential settings, from personal property damage and crop destruction to expensive car/deer accidents. The most common complaint is deer damage to vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and ornamentals. It is not easy or cheap to keep unwanted deer away, and often the best solution may be a greater understanding and tolerance of deer.
There are several species of ground squirrels found in Montana, and they can be serious problems. All are small, burrowing rodents and the control methods are the same.
Porcupines, “porkies,” or “quill pigs” cannot throw their quills at you or your pets. You must actually touch the quill even very slightly for it to stick in you.
Those cute, cuddly rabbits in the front yard can sometimes turn into monsters. They can do considerable damage to flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs.
With a little acceptance and understanding, you can live with skunks, if you do not unduly alarm them. However, there are many instances, especially where you have pets or young children, where this may not be possible.
Woodrats can become quite a nuisance around homes on the edge of town, vacation homes, cabins, outbuildings, and other infrequently used structures or buildings. They will take up residence in parked farm equipment and vehicles, gnawing on wires and other mechanical components, in addition to stealing treasures for their nests or building large nests in the vehicle or equipment.