Dealing With Pest Animals

Pest animals have in many areas become much more of a nuisance in the home landscape than are pest insects. Pest animals are becoming way too common in suburban areas where development is rapidly eliminating the normal habitat for these critters.

In these files we offer detailed advice about dealing with over 20 pest animals. As we note in those files you really have only four choices in dealing with a pest animal:

You can find some material that repels the animal from your yard.

You can set up some kind of barrier to prevent the animal access to your yard.

You can trap and kill the animal.

Or, you can live with it being part of your yard’s ecosystem.

Be Sure You Have The Right Animal
When you have a problem, and you suspect an animal is the culprit, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis of which animal is causing the problem. The steps to take to deal with deer will be very different from those steps required to deal with woodchucks; both can wipe out a vegetable garden in one night.

Repellents vs. Fences???
While there are usually a number of approaches to take in dealing with most pest animal problems, in the majority of the cases, your challenge will be to choose between repellents or some form of fencing. In Yardener’s Tool Shed, we give you detailed information about each approach to help you make the best decision; see the Pest Animal Products section where you will find “Choosing A Repellent” and ”Choosing A Fence”.

Here Is Our Opinion
If you have a pest animal problem and the population of that particular pest is not excessive for your area, then a repellent may very well do the trick because the problem is not a function of overpopulation which makes the animal so hungry, it is immune to any repellent. If you have a situation where the population of a pest animal is indeed becoming excessive because of loss of habitat from development, then you have a permanent problem and a proper fence is the only permanent solution.

Multiple Pest Animals
If your landscape is being attacked by several critters simultaneously (deer, raccoons, and rabbits are a common combination) there are two products which can effectively deal with a number of pest animals all at once.

For a repellent, see Scarecrow which is a physical water spritzing repelling device.

For a fence, see the description of the Ultimate Fence Combination.

All of the most common pest animals are discussed in the following files. As with the pest insects, we try to give you a range of potential solutions so you have some choice in terms of how much trouble you are willing to take to deal with the problem. 


Do Not Move Trapped Animals To Some Other Location

At a social gathering recently I was a bit upset hearing one of the guests brag about trapping six raccoons in his back yard in just three weeks.  It was what happened after the animal was trapped that upset me.  When I asked, he reported proudly that he had taken all six out to a state park and released them.  What seems like an act of kindness is really a very bad thing to do. It also happens to be illegal to move wild animals anywhere in Michigan.

When you add another of any of the pest animals such as raccoons, squirrels, and rabbits to a new wooded area, you have just caused an imbalance in the food supply for all the other similar animals already resident to that area. Generally the number of any of those animals in any territory is controlled by how much food is available in that piece of land.  Add just one more critter, much less six more critters, and the population exceeds the food supply and only bad things can happen.  Usually the stress from hunger leads to disease which kills enough of the animals to get the population down to where it is again supported by the existing food supply.

The best way to get rid of pest animals is to hire a local wildlife removal company.  They come in, trap the critter, and remove it safely for a fee.  For a list of available companies go to

If you insist on handling the problem yourself, you need a proper cage trap that is properly baited.  And then you need a method for disposing of the animal in a humane fashion, usually by drowning or dispatching with a gun.

Woodstream Company has just come out with an updated version of their traditional Havahart trap.  It is called the “Easy Set Cage Trap” and comes in two sizes – one for skunks, rabbits, or squirrels, and the other for raccoons, woodchucks or oppossums.  While you can use your own secret bait, such as cat food for raccoons, it is easier and more effective to buy bait designed for catching the critter at hand.

Revenge Animal Bait Kits are commonly used with success.  For about $10 you can get a bait that attracts each of the six animal pests I named above (Google “Revenge Bait Kits”).  These baits will be good for about two weeks which is usually a lot longer than you need.

All these animals are a problem because people have eliminated their natural habitat with development and they have gotten real used to eating people food thrown out in the trash.  It seems like an oxymoron to say the humane way to deal with pest animals is to kill them, but that is the sad truth and we all should respect it.




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