General Habitat Management Guidelines

Reduce weeds and dense vegetation directly around garden plots – many animals avoid areas without cover to hide in;

Don't feed birds in or near gardens – spilled seed will attract rodents;

Build closed compost bins and locate them at a distance from the garden;

Maintain native or existing vegetation in the area – many animals, such as ground squirrels, will turn to your garden because their natural food sources are destroyed; 

Alternating planting of "undesirable" plants, as well as crop rotation, will help control damage. Animals and insects love a monoculture;

Use individual plant covers or cloches – bell-shaped, transparent glass covers – especially during spring when plants are small, before natural foods are readily available for wildlife;

Keep ground constantly moist – many mammals will not burrow in wet soil.

Some Definitions

Exclusion: Physical (as opposed to chemical) deterrents to wildlife, such as fences, visual barriers, buried hardware cloth, and plant covers.

Scare devices: Objects or noises that are meant to frighten animals away. These include the old-fashioned scarecrow, lifelike replicas or owls, scare balloons (balloons with large eyes), scare tape, sprinklers, and motion sensitive lights.

Repellents: Natural and synthetic products sprayed on or hung from plants, or sprinkled on the ground. These substances deter animals through the use of smells and/or tastes. Wildlife can also be discouraged by vibrations, a radio on low, or ultrasonic devices.

Live trapping: Special traps that allow the animal to be contained and relocated without being harmed. CAUTION: Live trapping and relocating must be done correctly or else it can result in the injury or death of the animal.

A Word About Live Trapping

When you set a live trap, YOU become responsible for the welfare of the trapped animal. Keep these four things in mind:

  1. Place trap in a safe place. Once Contained, the animal should not be exposed to intense sun or cold, frightened by dogs or cats, or harmed in any other way until the trap is checked.

  2. Check the trap often! Animals will die of dehydration, starvation, exposure or fright if they are left in a trap for too long. Moles, for example, will survive only a few hours without feeding.

  3. Think about babies! Forcible relocation through live trapping frequently separates mothers from babies, resulting in orphaned and dying babies.

  4. Live trapping is legal – relocating is not. Live trapped animals can be released on your property or very close by.

Improper live trapping can result in injury or death for the animal!

A Word About Poisons

Poisons kill indiscriminately and painfully!

Non-lethal methods are better for the animal, local wildlife, dogs, cats, kids, and you...

Look online, read gardening books, peruse information from pest control companies and manufacturers of lethal animal control products, and you will be bombarded with claims that so-called garden "pests" can only be controlled using lethal means. While these methods might seem easy, if we delve a little deeper, we discover that there are consequences, many of which are not as positive as just ridding your garden of unwanted animals.

Poisons and traps kill indiscriminately, injuring many non-target animals such as raptors, other scavengers, reptiles, bats, and cats and dogs. Poisoned rodents and birds are readily preyed upon by eagles or cats; the poison is transferred to the predator where it continues to do its work, eventually causing the predator to sicken and die. Traps, especially glue traps, snare other species such as bats, birds, reptiles and non-target rodents. Small snap traps may catch ground-feeding birds or a foot or wing of a larger animal.

Lethal control provides a temporary solution at best. The extermination of all of one species in an area creates an ecological imbalance. When a group of animals is eradicated, without following up with exclusion, others will simply move in to fill the space – so the need for lethal control continues year after year. On the other hand, proper habitat management and exclusion techniques can provide a long-term solution without the perceived need for continued killing.

Many lethal methods, such as glue traps, are inhumane, resulting in prolonged suffering for the target species. Instead of a quick death, these traps cause a slow death by dehydration, starvation, and suffocation while the animal struggles to get free. Poisons also cause a painful death. Anti-coagulants, for example, cause the animal to bleed to death either internally or from a minor external wound.

Do your research! Here are some resources.