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Tips On Prevention

Ottawa’s unprecedented growth in recent years has inevitably meant a significant decrease in natural habitat. As a result of encroachment, there has been a dramatic increase in human-wildlife conflicts. When animals end up losing their home, they move on to find the resources they require to survive elsewhere and, with less greenspace, they end up on our properties. Learning to co-exist with wildlife is easy once you know how to prevent conflicts before they occur. Here are some strategies:

When doing animal proofing under any circumstances, consider hiring a general contractor to do the roof work if you're not comfortable or do not have the proper equipment to complete the job!

  • Roof - The common access points for animals to gain entry into an attic are through soffits, fascia, roof vents, loose shingles and the intersecting point where two roofs meet. Once the roof has been inspected and you are aware of any weak spots that need to be secured, use welded wire mesh to animal proof (1” x 1” or ˝” x ˝” if you have red squirrels in the area, and 16-19 gauge). This welded wire mesh (also known as hardware cloth) can be purchased at most building supply stores. Anytime after mid October is the safest time to conduct roof inspections and repairs as most babies will be moving out with mom, but be mindful that animals will also move in for a winter den site. Before doing any repairs, be confident that no animals are in the attic. If you suspect there is an animal in the attic, consult the web page entitled "I Hear An Animal In My Attic" to learn how to safely get the animal(s) out.

    Remember that wildlife, like raccoons, are very strong animals so you must use the proper materials to repair entry points and affix these materials in a manner that will keep animals out. The 16 guage weld-wire mesh that is recommended needs to be held in place using washers and heavy long screws as depicted in the diagram below.

  • Chimney - Animals will often move into a chimney to have babies or to escape bad weather. With respect to the latter, squirrels and birds can easily get in, but usually are not able to get back out. We recommend getting a cap and spark arrester screen installed on your chimney; a cap alone is not sufficient as animals can still fit underneath. The screen prevents all access. Most chimney cleaning companies can install a cap and screen, otherwise a screen can be easily fashioned using the 1”x 1” welded wire mesh. If you are concerned that an animal may already be inside or stuck, consult the "I Have An Animal In My Chimney" page for advice on how to get it out safely before going ahead with the installation of a cap and screen.

  • Window Wells - Animals such as skunks can sometimes fall into window wells by accident and are not able to get back out on their own. To prevent this, we suggest getting a proper window well cover or create your own using the 1”x 1” welded wire mesh. If there is an animal already in your window well consult "I Have an Animal In My Window Well" page to learn how to safely remove the animal.

  • Food Sources - Garbage is a viable food source for many animals including raccoons, skunks and rats. To avoid attracting these animals, make sure your garbage is stored in proper bins with lock-down handles and if possible keep bins stored in a shed or garage until the morning of pick up. A composter bin is another food source, so make sure the bin is sealed properly. Also, remember that pet food and birdseed can attract animals to your property.

  • Around the Yard - Before pruning trees, check for leaf nests or cavities that could be a home for babies. If you find a nest of babies in a shed or garage, be sure to put it back exactly as you found it and give mom a few days to relocate her young. Check your barbeque before using it for the first time in the spring, red squirrels and mice will sometimes make their nest under the grill. Use chemical free lawn care, starting early in the spring, to control grubs and keep raccoons and skunks from digging up your lawn.

Taking a little time now to check these potential problem areas will help to alleviate major headaches in the future.