What To Do When Wildlife Comes Calling

By C. Boyd Pfeiffer
BALTIMORE, MD–Geese seem friendly enough, except when they are guarding a nest.

Unfortunately, they eat a lot at the front end and do unmentionable things at the back end, messing up lawns, driveways, walkways, parks, docks, etc. In short, they can be almost as much as a nuisance as deer eating you out of hedges and hibiscus.

Scares of avian bird flu, noise, lawn damage, agriculture destruction and traffic problems are just some of the additional concerns over geese. Coupled with that is the fact that we now have a too-high nuisance population of resident Canada Geese. The best solution is to not let geese get established, according to Larry Hindman, a waterfowl specialist for the MD Department of Natural Resources.

Easy for him to say. The problem is how to do this, since federal permits are required to deal with birds.

“Every bird, with the exception of pigeons, starlings and house sparrows, is protected by law,” said Kevin Sullivan, project leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

For example, you can’t harass, kill or trap woodpeckers even when they are making Swiss cheese out of your cedar shake siding. Professional help is needed.

One solution with geese is to plant high shrubs and grasses in areas where you don’t want geese, Hindman said. Geese don’t like living where they can’t see oncoming predators such as people, foxes and coyotes.

Coyotes are another problem, according to DNR furbearer project leader Robert Colona. They are now found nationwide, including the Eastern Shore and the central Piedmont region.

“They can destroy plants and eat livestock,” Colona said.

Unfortunately, the repellents that may or may not work for deer are mostly in the “may-not” category with furbearers. Colona’s suggestion for problem coyotes and furbearing wildlife such as Raccoons, skunks and opossums is basic preventative measures.

Don’t allow pets to roam. Coyotes eat cats and small dogs. Keep dog food indoors. Don’t feed pets outdoors where spillage can attract wildlife. Secure garbage cans and lids—a must when Raccoons are around.

The only way to solve furbearer problems once they develop is to remove the animal, according to Colona. During legal seasons, if hunting is allowed in the neighborhood, this can be handled by the homeowner. Naturally, this is only possible in rural areas. Some furbearers—Raccoons and foxes, for example — can be found in cities and are prevalent in suburbs.

For added tips, you can also call the Nuisance Wildlife Hotline (877-463-6497) jointly operated/funded by the Maryland DNR and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. A Web site link for other ideas is www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/wauninvited.asp.

If all else fails, professional invasive wildlife cooperators can legally trap and remove nuisance animals. Most of the animals are destroyed. To prevent this last-ditch solution, think preventative measures and don’t let them get a paw-hold. — Examiner

EDITOR’S NOTE: C. Boyd Pfeiffer is an internationally known sportsman and award-winning writer on fishing, hunting, and the outdoors, and is currently working on his 25th book. He can be reached at cbpfeiffer@msn.com.