Discouraging Wildlife


Wildlife in The Garden  And other Places You Don't Want Them
Tricks & Tips For Getting Them To Leave

Sue-Ryn Burns   NYS Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator

Deer don't see well, but they have excellent hearing and sensitive taste buds. For ornamental plants, shrubs, and trees I use a mixture of 1 egg, 1 tablespoonful of chopped fresh garlic (1/2 Tbsp dried), blended with 1 gallon of water. Shake it all up in a recycled milk jug and let it ferment in the heat. (Do not open this in your house  - you'll need to open all the windows and turn on all the fans to get the stink out!). Once its fermented, slosh it onto your ornamental plants. It doesn't leave any slime and in about 20 minutes you cant smell it. The deer hate this stuff and will learn to leave plants alone. It does have to be repeated after rain, but once they know its there, the Deer will quit trying to eat plants that have been treated. People we know have also had success with Mylar ribbon streamers that move in the breeze, and plastic CDs have worked too. Coyote urine works, but needs to be reapplied regularly. A border of blood meal around plants and gardens works for a while. Some folks swear by a thick planting of fragrant herbs  mints like Catnip and Pennyroyal, Wormwood, Tansy, Marigolds, and other plants that they generally don't eat.

Mice can get out of control in a hurry if they find a comfortable location. They are put off by strong minty scents like Peppermint and Pennyroyal. You can use a strong tea as a spray or wash for traffic areas. You can strew mints into storage or empty areas to repel them too. If they are really being a nuisance, you can use Betty Crocker's Potato Buds. The mice will chow down and go outside to find water. The salty buds will expand and kill them. No, its not nice. However, if your neighbors pets or a wild creature decides to eat the carcass, they will not be poisoned! If this is all too much violence, get a Live Trap called The Tin Cat and bait it with savory seeds like Coriander, Fennel, or even birdseed. The mice will flock in and spend the night chowing down, but will be unable to get out. In the morning, you take them for a ride a few miles down the road and release them.

Other Rodents, like Chipmunks, and squirrels, have very sensitive noses  that's how they relocate their buried food. Scented dryer sheets, perfume samples, mothballs, and other strongly scented items will repel them, but may need to be placed in a recycled perforated container too big for them to move. Voles and Shrews really dislike Garlic in all its forms, but if you are trying to protect lily bulbs, rat wire cages around the bulbs are your best defense, companion plant them with Allium bulbs or Garlic chives..

Raccoons are extremely clever, destructive, and hard to repel. Pinesol liquid cleaner will repel them. Soak rags and leave them in areas where raccoons are likely to rest or den. If you are a landowner you can trap and relocate them. If you are a renter, talk to your landlord. A really effective bait is Marshmallows and/or fresh fruit. If you relocate them, be sure to release them where they will have access to water and trees and wont just become someone else's problem. Because they are a Rabies Vector Species caution must be used. Suspicious behaviors include confusion, aggression, poor appearance, weakness in the hindquarters, and daytime activity. Keep pets and children indoors and call your department of health if you suspect an unhealthy Raccoon is on your property.
** Enclose your compost pile and be sure your trash is not inviting unwanted attention.**

Skunks are also a Rabies Vector Species and need cautious handling. They are also primarily nocturnal creatures, so the same cautions as above apply. To repel Skunks or get them to move from under a building, soak a rag with old fashioned Pine Sol cleaner and stuff it down their burrow or soak a boundary line you don't want them to cross. You can also staple rolled up towels under your deck and soak them with Pine Sol. A have-a heart trap baited with fruit will catch them. Cover the trap with an old sheet or blanket to avoid scaring them and getting sprayed once they are trapped.
** Skunks and Raccoons will dig up your entire lawn if they find certain Grubs living in the soil. Turned up soil may indicate the need for a treatment with Milky Spore to kill off the grubs without harming the environment. Once the food source is gone, the critters will stay away too. **

        Woodchucks are herbivores with unusual tastes. They will scarf up an entire patch of strongly flavored Artimesias or tingly Echinaceas, which most other critters wont bother. They can also undermine a foundation with their incessant digging. Again, a Pine Sol soaked rag stuffed down their burrow can encourage them to leave a dwelling  be sure there are no babies before you act. Another friend swears by well-used cat litter (eewh!) deposited down their burrow entrance who could blame them for not wanting to stick around?

        Bats have a tendency to spook people badly. Of the 5000 named mammalian species, 1100 of those species are Bats. In some climates they are also pollinators. They are nocturnal and eat a surprising number of moths and beetles (not just mosquitoes), which they hunt by echolocation. They can carry rabies and so should never be handled by anyone who hasn't had their shots! Exclusion is the only effective means of keeping them out once you have dislodged them, which usually requires carpentry. They can be repelled by helium filled mylar balloons and shiny mylar ribbon streamers placed in their flight path.

        Shiny mylar streamers and reflectors are great ways to repel most birds from windows and ponds. Herons do not like the long silvery streamers and stay away from our pond when we put them around. Oddly enough Hummingbirds are excited by the shimmer, so be cautious about placement.
        Gardener's Supply Company sells a goose repellant made from winery leavings. It smells very grapelike, but tastes bitter to geese and they leave lawns treated with it. The down side is heavy rainfall will wash it away. The same company carries a whole line of natural animal repellants.800 - 427 - 3363  or gardeners.com

 For more information, contact Sue-Ryn at 315-482-2985.

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