University of Illinois Extension

How to Prevent Problems with Wildlife

Reduce Food and Water for Wildlife

Raccoons (<i>Procyon lotor</i>) will raid improperly stored trash. 
Photo courtesy of Willowbrook Wildlife Center.
  • Do not feed squirrels, raccoons, deer, or other wildlife.
  • If you feed birds, install baffles on the bird feeders or use feeders with weight-activated treadles to keep squirrels out. Do not allow bird seed to accumulate on the ground where it can attract rodents, raccoons and opossums. Using thistle seed instead of sunflower seeds or corn will help you attract song birds and may reduce the likelihood of attracting squirrels, opossums, or raccoons. Safflowers may be used instead of sunflowers since squirrels do not seem to like safflowers.
  • Feed pets indoors when possible. If pets must be fed outside, bring food dishes in overnight and clean up any spilled food.
  • Keep garbage stored properly. Use solid trash containers with secure lids. Place trash containers in an area where they cannot be easily knocked over or build a frame to hold them upright.
  • Do not place food scraps in your garden. If you compost your food scraps make sure they are not accessible.
  • Clean your outdoor grill regularly.
  • If you have fruit trees in your yard, harvest or dispose of all ripe fruit.
  • Use fencing or other exclosures to keep rabbits, voles, and deer from nibbling on garden plants or landscaping. Keep in mind that the openings in the wire fence must be small enough to keep out the species you are trying to exclude, and in most cases a portion of the exclosure must be buried underground to prevent animals from digging under it.

Reduce Shelter for Wildlife

  • Stack firewood away from buildings or fences. (This helps reduce the chances of invasion by termites as well). Stack firewood on a frame that keeps wood at least 2 feet above ground. Only store as much firewood as you will use in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Remove tall grass, brush piles, or debris from your yard.
  • Remove dead trees.
  • Deny access to your roof by trimming nearby tree branches. There should be a minimum of 10 feet between tree limbs and your home since tree squirrels can jump distances of up to 10 feet.
  • Check your home regularly to make sure it is in good repair. Wildlife often enter homes through gaps in the structure, via chimneys, soffit vents, or attic exhaust fan openings or vents, or through damaged roofs. Prevent access under decks or foundations.
  • Prevent access to abandoned or infrequently used buildings.