Living with our wild neighbors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Melody Bell Wilkes
For the Salisbury Post
Mary Morrison and Susan Griffin, both licensed wildlife rehabilitators with the Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas, submitted this wildlife article:
Wild animals such as squirrels, opossums and raccoons have adapted to living in urban settings. In the search for food, water and a home, animals sometimes conflict with people.
These risks can range from simple nuisances to serious health concerns, such as:
– Chewed wires can cause an electrical short.
– Odors and noise may be annoying.
– Droppings can create a health problem.
– Structural wear and tear can lead to water damage and rot.
– Nesting in vents can restrict airflow.
– Conflicts can occur between pets and urban wildlife.
Once an unwelcome wildlife guest moves in, there are inexpensive ways to get them to move that do not harm the animal. With a little patience and tolerance, problems can be minimized. Attics, chimneys and sheds may be used by wildlife as homes unless you take steps to prevent them from moving in.
Look for broken shingles or damaged roof vents that may be entry points. Wildlife can widen damaged areas to allow easy access.
Putting a light in your attic at night can show potential entry points.
Look for tracks, droppings, feathers, fur and gathered nesting materials.
Pick up pet food and water dishes and move in garbage at night. Remove piles of wood or rock that might be used as a den. Pruning tree branches away from your roof can discourage animals from setting up home in your attic.
If a unwelcome wildlife guests have moved in, you can encourage them to move out by using loud music, bright lights and a strong smellfrom a shallow dish of ammonia or mothballs.
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Melody Wilkes is owner of A Walk in the Woods, an environmental education company that provides outreach wildlife programs. Contact her at 704-436-9048 or visit www.awalkinthewoods.us.

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