There are many things to consider when trying to figure out whether or not to deal with an animal problem on your own. Is the animal living in my house, or is it just passing through the area? Can I access the area where it is, or is it someplace that might be dangerous for me to reach it? How long has the animal been there? There are a handful of situations in which do-it-yourself trapping might be right for you, and there are some where calling a professional is the smartest route. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you make the right decision.
When should I trap an animal myself?
- When you want to release it on your own property – There are strict laws governing the handling of wildlife that have been developed to protect animals as well as the people dealing with them. A homeowner can perform do-it-yourself trapping as long as the animal is then released on the property where it was captured. It’s illegal for anyone to transport wildlife without proper licensing. The difficulty with releasing an animal on site is that if it is living in, under, or near your home, it will simply return to its den and continue to cause problems. If the animal is damaging your home or posing a threat to your wellbeing, self-trapping isn’t a long-term solution.
- When the animal is in distress and easy to access – Sometimes animals get into situations where they need some assistance getting free. If an animal has gotten stuck in a place that is easy for you to get to (like a window well) and you’re comfortable letting it go on your property, you may opt to trap and release it.
When should I call for help?
- When you want the animal removed from your property – If you’re dealing with an animal that has gotten into your home or is burrowing underneath your stoop or deck, it is absolutely necessary to remove that animal from the property in order to prevent further damage. This isn’t something do-it-yourself trapping can resolve. Nuisance wildlife technicians have the proper licensing to transport the animal away from your property and keep it from returning.
- When the animal is in a difficult place to access – Animals are small and able to fit into places that aren’t easy to access. Attics, walls, and chimneys are all common den areas for nuisance wildlife. Climbing up on the roof to get to the chimney and balancing on beams in your attic are dangerous endeavors that are best left to professionals who handle this type of work every day.
- When the animal has been living in the house for a while – When animals have been inhabiting a space for an extended amount of time, that area will be filthy. Wildlife like raccoons designate certain areas as latrine sites, while mice and squirrels defecate and urinate pretty much everywhere they go. This waste is extremely hazardous and can host any number of diseases and parasites, and nesting material may be contaminated with fleas, mites, and ticks. Climbing through an attic for the purpose of removing raccoons puts you at serious risk. Animal control workers have specialized protection equipment to keep them safe from these dangers and know the proper protocol for handling contaminated materials.
- When a bat gets inside your living space – If a bat has gotten into the interior of your house, your instinct may be to open the window and wait for it to fly away. Because bats are one of the top carriers of rabies in Illinois, any bat that is found in a living space must be captured by a professional and sent in to be tested for rabies. Their teeth are so small and sharp, that most people aren’t even aware when they’ve been bitten, so for your safety, it is best to let a wildlife technician handle the removal of bats from your home.
What can I do to prevent an animal problem?
- Eliminate food sources – Animals will be attracted to areas where food is readily available to them. Make sure that your trash cans are secured in a frame and that the lids are attached using a bungee cord so that they cannot be tipped over or broken into. Remove any bird feeders from the property or make sure to clean up any seed that has fallen onto the ground. Likewise, remove any fruit or nuts that have fallen from the trees in your yard. Don’t leave any food sitting outside for an extended amount of time. This includes dog and cat food.
- Make it harder to get into your home – The more difficult you make it get into your house, the fewer nuisance wildlife problems you’ll have. Make sure any damaged areas of your roof are repaired. Weakened, rotting wood or pre-existing holes give animals easy access to your attic. Trim trees at least 6 feet from the roofline to keep squirrels from being able to jump onto your roof. Seal gaps in places like between the foundation and the siding of the home. Cover vents with specially designed animal-proofing.
- Don’t underestimate wildlife – An animal that has built a den on your property considers your home to be their home, and they will not be deterred easily. If you came home and the locks on your doors had been changed, would you simply move somewhere else, or would you figure out a way to get back inside? Animals are stronger than people think and are often able to chew, tear, or dig through the do-it-yourself animal proofing that homeowners install. Animal control specialists have the proper animal proofing materials and devices as well as the expertise to install them properly and effectively. They are also able to replace soiled attic insulation to prevent illness from transferring to you and your family.
While there are some occasions where do-it-yourself trapping is a viable option, in most cases, the safest and most practical decision is to contact an animal control company like ABC Humane Wildlife. The men and women who work for us are trained and licensed to handle animals properly and safely. They know how animals behave and are able to predict how they will react in varying circumstances. Our technicians are also able to partner with you to create a plan that will remove the animals from your home, repair any damage they’ve caused, and prevent them from being a problem in the future. If you’re facing a wildlife problem, don’t hesitate to ask for help from the experts.
Image courtesy of Valerle Sauve via Flickr Creative Commons