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Wildlife conflicts and resolutions

Traditionally in our culture, wildlife problems and human complaints are often handled by targeting the symptoms rather than the problems. For example, simply removing a squirrel from an attic, while neglecting to seal up all entry holes too, accomplishes little more than providing a future nesting site for yet another squirrel.

These "quick-fix" measures of removing and/or destroying intruding animals, oftentimes results in young animals becoming orphaned.


Uninformed and well-meaning residents may end up paying for services that fail to solve the conflict, or result in a behind-the-scenes animal death. These deaths may occur through drowning, lethal injection with commercial solvents or even the bludgeoning of animals by some commercial pest or nuisance animal control firms.

We stress that live-trapping and relocation of animals is yet another "quick-fix" remedy, which fails to treat any underlying problem. In fact, these measures may encourage disease transmission and relocation is illegal in some states.
"Whenever people say, "We musn't be sentimental," you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add,, "We must be realistic", they mean they are going to make money out of it."
- Brigid Brophy

To better understand the pitfalls of relocation, just imagine personalizing the relocation concept with a human character. Let's imagine Alfred, an uncle without any immediate family to rely on. He shows up periodically, uninvited, for a holiday get-together. Somewhat lacking in social graces, he tends to engage in loud munching, belching and other annoying behavior at the dinner table.

What to do about Alfred… is the question for the holiday.

Would you pack up his belongings and tote him to an upscale subdivision somewhere to dump him off on someone else? Frankly, a subdivision is the perfect environment for him, isn't it though? The homes have extra bedrooms and freezers packed full with delicacies.

Although the perfect environment for Alfred, no one is willing to open their door and invite him inside. Animals, territorial by nature, will not receive newcomers in their area either. In fact, allowing additional animals to move into occupied territories can be potentially devastating to other resident wildlife.

Instead…a humane pro-active approach

In 1999, Wildlife Orphanage created a Wildlife Assistance Hotline at (219) 362-6999 to provide callers with information concerning humane, non-lethal alternatives for resolving human/wildlife conflicts. These alternatives are cost-effective and successful - more importantly, they are permanent.

Our hotline is operated by three licensed wildlife control professionals, as well as several trained and committed volunteers.


The hotline receives close to 700 calls each year, and because of the effective strategies advocated, the number of orphaned animals treated annually at our facility was reduced by 50 percent.

Our organization has a contract with a licensed wild animal control professional, who is responsible for humanely removing mammals; sealing up entry holes to prevent re-entry, and reuniting animal family units disrupted by the removal techniques.

The professional also provides residents with information on habitat and human behavior modification options to prevent future conflicts.

The Humane Alternatives to animal control

The best method for inducing a mother animal to relocate her entire brood from a conflict site is to make the accommodations inhospitable. This intruding, maternal creature specifically sought out a dark, quiet, peaceful environment, in which to raise her young. Altering this comfortable environment with lighting, noise and obnoxious and offending odors (to wild animals ONLY) will entice this mother creature to seek out a more suitable area for her family.


"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages"
- Thomas Edison

Understanding a species' natural behavior increases the success rate of removal by these means. Once an animal has vacated the former den site, appropriate repairs or exclusionary devices must be used to prevent other opportunistic animals from moving in again.
Critical to the removal effort, is removing on-site food sources that contribute to the desirability of the location.


How to deal with our wild neighbors

Animals are very adaptable, perhaps even more so than humans. People are confronted with many wildlife species as they enjoy the great outdoors or build their homes in the country.

For humans, it can be difficult to master the challenge of dealing with wildlife conflicts in a more humane manner. The challenge is in changing our thinking, and to refuse to accept inappropriate and environmentally irresponsible ways of dealing with wildlife conflicts.


What do you do if a member of the wildlife community is discovered sharing your living space? There are in fact, a variety of options for residents facing this dilemma.

Many mammal conflict situations arise out of irrational fear surrounding the presence of a wild animal. For instance many urban dwellers are perplexed at the sighting of a raccoon in their domain. This is not a new phenomenon to be sure, as these opportunistic creatures are taking advantage of a sustainable environment and doing rather well.

Educating yourself concerning the natural behavior and characteristics of wildlife helps to decipher if a particular animal behavior is cause for concern.

A vast majority of complaints by residents occur during the birthing season of animals as they seek suitable environments to raise their young. Creatures are willing to take advantage of humans who may unwittingly provide dens and food sources.

And so, conflicts arise.

First, check for footprints in order to determine the kind of animal causing the problem or intrusion. Make a note concerning the time of day that the animal appears. Accurately determine the animal or animals involved; the damage being done; and the possible reasons for the behavior, (is there a mother animal using your attic for a den to protect her young?). Look for alternatives for resolving the problem - permanently and humanely.

Hiring Animal removal services???
When attempting to hire a licensed, wild animal control operator, please follow these suggested guidelines. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO REMOVE WILDLIFE ON YOUR OWN.
  • Is the operator licensed and how long has he/she been in business?
  • Does the operator listen closely to your concerns and description of the problem
  • Does the operator care about the welfare of both his customer and the animal(s) involved?
  • Will he/she provide an estimate in writing with services paid for upon satisfied completion of the work?
  • Will the operator provide "hands-on" removal and "on-site" release which are the only humane approaches available?
  • Does the operator explain the source of the problem and how the problem was created?
  • Is the operator bonded or insured in case of incidental damage?
  • Does the operator provide more than one alternative to resolving the conflict and are these alternatives humane?
  • Does the solution to the conflict fix the problem permanently and is the work guaranteed?

Hiring a company for wildlife removal is always the prefered approach: it is safer, more humane, and will increase the safety for all parties. Doing wildlife removal yourself can be very dangerous. In addition, a good professional will make sure you never have the same problem again. Protect yourself by trying to pay only half upfront and the rest when the job is completed. It is also important to get an estimate and guarantees that the raccoons, squirrels, or any other wildlife you have will be removed to your satisfaction.

Eliminating the problem with human behavior modification

Some conflicts may be avoided by modifying our own behavior. For instance, residents disturbed by raccoons raiding birdfeeders are encouraged to bring in their birdfeeders at dusk, together with any tarps or trays placed underneath the birdfeeders for catching spilled seeds.

Garbage cans are also gourmet delights and open invitations for a raccoon or other hungry animal. This is easily remedied by taking refuse out for pickup in the morning hours - after nocturnal creatures return to their dens.


If garbage must be placed out for collection in the evenings, tall, plastic garbage cans with TWIST-ON lids are recommended. Nocturnal snacking is precluded as raccoons are unable to manipulate these lids and gain entry.

Keep in mind, our "people food" isn't really good for animal consumption. Some food can cause serious health problems for our animal friends. And, once animals start to depend on humans as their food source, (through hand-outs) they become dependent and lose their natural skills for finding food.

Habituating animals to seek out food sources from humans can be devastating as these imprinted animals routinely approach humans – some of whom are uncomfortable viewing wildlife up close and personal!

Here are some excellent sources of information concerning wildlife conflicts and solutions:

Placeholder Wildlife Removal USA specializes in humane methods for dealing with and removing wildlife animals. You can visit their Web site at wildlife removal TO VIEW some examples of potential problem situations and remedies.

For excellent information on living with wildlife and humanely resolving conflicts visit The Fund for Animals at

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Wildlife Orphanage, Inc.
Dedicated to the Welfare of Native Wildlife
Post Office Box 0945
Chesterton, IN 46304
(219) 362-6999