Fend Off Feisty Animals

April 26, 1992|By Michael R. Driscoll | Michael R. Driscoll,Staff writer

Let's be honest. You'd have to be a cross between Euell Gibbons and Mahatma Gandhi not to be tempted to rethink your opposition to assault guns after getting blasted out of bed on a Saturday morning by a hyperactive woodpecker, or finding your garbage scattered across the lawn, courtesy of some foraging ferret.

But it would be simpler to try any one of a number of cheaper, simpler and quieter solutions thatwould benefit everyone. Here are just a few ideas for dealing with the situation.

Birds are attracted to food sources, such as berry bushes or trees, where they also can nest. But they become an unexpected and at times highly dubious dividend for people who simply wanted a bit of shade, or a nice landscaping touch, instead of a midnight tattoo.

There's a kinder, gentler solution. Birds can be chased off by getting a large balloon and painting a face on it. Anybody's face should do thetrick.

Or get a red wind sock and hang it up to scare the birds away. (Why the color red? I have no idea, but it works).

Models of predators like hawks or snakes can be placed at some prominent point to scare away other birds. However, over a period of time the birds you want to chase off may grow used to the sight of these models and return.

Birds like to nest on chimneys because of both the height and warmth. But they can be asphyxiated by smoke, and fall inside to die. So just cover the top of your chimney with a cap that is too small to build on, yet still allows smoke to pass through. The birds can make a home elsewhere.

As a last resort, you can either cut down the trees or just invest in some ear plugs to block out the nightly noise.

Animals such as squirrels and raccoons can be encouraged to move elsewhere on their own, by simply banging on the walls -- if theyare inside the house -- or playing the radio loudly near their nesting places.

If the animals are trapped inside, and you know where, leave a small piece of rope near the point of entry and wait. When the rope is gone, seal up the hole.

Proper care of garbage cans yields many benefits. Just covering them securely is a big help for obvious sanitary reasons.

Recycling glass bottles or milk containers not only conserves non-perishable materials, but it prevents animals from getting their heads caught inside and starving or suffocating.

Rinsing out containers and crushing them also will help, since this removes the food smells that attract hungry animals.

The proper storage of food items in metal or plastic containers also will discourage any animals already inside the house.

And they can be discouraged from entry by plugging wall cracks with coarse steel wool, quick drying cement or hardware cloth of a quarter-inch mesh or less.

Cagetraps can be used to collect the mice for later removal and release outside. Make sure the trap has air holes.

Of course, if the animals have gotten into an unused portion of your house, are nesting withyoung and not affecting anything, why not consider leaving them alone?

The animals will eventually leave and then you can simply closeoff the opening.

If none of the above ideas solves your problem, contact local animal shelters or private groups such as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), P.O. Box 42516, Washington, D.C., 20015, (301) 770-7444.

Another good source of information is the Humane Society of the United States, which sells the "Pocket Guideto the Humane Control of Wildlife in Cities and Towns," by Guy R. Hodge for $3.25. Write to the Society at 2100 L Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20037, or call (202) 452-1100.

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE ALSO APPEAREDIN HOWARD COUNTY SUN EDITION

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