Enterprise

Tips from Local Broomfield Wildlife Masters – Broomfield Enterprise

Securing your yard from unwanted wildlife this fall allows wild animals to find shelter elsewhere for the coming winter. It also ensures that they won’t find a safe place to nest or den near your house this spring. Fall is when the young animals have grown up and left the nest, so it’s the best time to check and secure your garden.

Rabbits are abundant in the city and excluding them from your front yard is very difficult as this area is often open and unfenced. A good start is to locate and fill in any holes under the concrete, porch, steps or driveway. Rabbits dig holes about 2 inches in diameter. If you have a hole bigger than that, you can have another type of animal (keep reading). Start by placing a folded piece of paper in the hole, then watch the hole. If the paper is pushed inside, the rabbit has entered the hole; if the paper is pushed out, the animal is out and now it’s time to seal the hole. You can achieve this by adding dirt, concrete, stones or chicken wire. Chicken wire or 1 inch mesh, galvanized wire works best. Dig about 2 inches and secure the wire into the ground with landscape stakes. Place the netting over the hole so that the rabbit cannot enter and cover this area with dirt, rocks or grass as appropriate.

Your garden is a little easier to protect from rabbits. If you have rabbits living under the deck, you will need to seal the deck with chicken wire, leaving a small hole for the rabbits to escape. Use the waded paper technique here too. Make sure the bunnies are gone and finish sealing the deck, using the same method described above. You can also cover the chicken wire with decorative lattice panels if you prefer not to see the wire. Then walk along the fence around your garden. Look for holes under the fence or broken fence slats. If you find a hole, the chicken wire solution is the best idea for securing your fence line and it’s usually permanent (with annual monitoring). Always secure your porch before sealing your fence so that rabbits in the yard have a chance to escape and not back under the porch.

Voles are also common and resemble mice, but are generally darker in color. They are active under the snow and create shallow dirt tunnels that look like tracks through your grass. These tunnels are exposed when the snow melts. Fall is the perfect time to prepare your garden and avoid vole damage in the spring. Habitat management involves close mowing of your lawn in the fall (final mowing) and controlling weeds in grassy borders that may exist next to your yard. Voles avoid exposed areas, so close mowing followed by raking of tracks will disrupt their activities. Voles can also settle near bird feeders or gardens, which are an easy year-round food supply, so pick up fallen bird food and use feeders that are as safe as possible. To prevent voles from gnawing on your trees and shrubs, surround the tree with quarter-inch mesh fabric or a 3-inch-diameter plastic mesh cylinder. These items should be buried 3 to 6 inches below the surface and extend 18 inches above the ground.

Raccoons are another unwanted visitor, especially if they show up inside your home (usually through the chimney or cat flap). Fall is the perfect time to install a chimney cap or check the existing cap to make sure it is secure. If not excluded, mother raccoons can nest and have babies in your chimney when spring arrives. While on the roof, check for holes along the edges and under the soffits. raccoons and squirrels will settle in if given the chance. Since raccoons and squirrels climb to gain access to our property, using our homemade hot pepper sauce along your fence line or tree branches is also another good deterrent. Call the Broomfield Wildlife Masters helpline, listed below, for details.

To keep squirrels off your roof, cut tree branches at least 4 feet from the edge of your roof. If you live in a heavily wooded area and this is not possible, check your roof for chew marks and holes. Squirrels can chew through a hole about 3 inches in diameter to gain access to your attic.

Preventing skunks from nesting in your garden next spring means sealing off potential nest sites this fall. Skunks have poor eyesight and don’t usually climb, so look for signs of a skunk on the ground. They regularly settle under garden sheds or patios and may have more than one entry/exit point. Look for digging marks and a hole about six inches in diameter. Skunks can also go dormant for a month or more during the winter, so keeping them out of your garden in the fall means fewer problems in the spring. Walk along the fence and look for signs of digging – they can get into your yard by crawling under the fence or gate. If you see signs of activity, seal the holes using the chicken wire method described above. Since skunks are very good diggers, run the wire mesh 2 inches below the surface, then bend it at a 90 degree angle and place it at least 12 inches from the fence, in an “L” shape. “. Fix the wire in the ground with landscape stakes and cover it. This way, when digging begins, the skunk will bump into the wire and back away.

Animals make a home where they find food, water, shelter and space. As always, avoid feeding wild animals. Pet food, birdseed, uncovered garbage cans or compost piles, and barbecue grills can attract a hungry animal. Taking the time this fall to prevent unwanted problems next spring will be well worth your efforts.

The Broomfield Wildlife Masters hotline can be reached at 303-464-5554. A wildlife master will call you back within 24 hours and we can give you our hot pepper sauce recipe as well as more detailed information based on your specific situation.

These animals live around us but they don’t have to live with us, and these tips can be implemented to avoid future conflicts. Wildlife Masters are part of the City and County of Broomfield’s Open Spaces and Trails Department Volunteer Program.