If you have new wild friends visiting you, it is likely that you can thank the heavy summer rains that we have been getting. Many animals, including snakes, are looking for higher ground. If you start to experience problems with your local wildlife, reach out to your extension office or myfwc.com for answers. Many nuisance wildlife problems can be resolved by taking care to remove food or shelter sources that are close to your living quarters. If that doesn’t help then initiate habitat modifications, add deterrents, or consider hiring a professional trapper. Wildlife can be very persistent once they become established in their “home.”
Wildlife have become a greater problem for Florida residents as our population has encroached on their native habitats. Wildlife are beneficial and enjoyable, but everyone is happier if close encounters are kept to a minimum. This is one reason that feeding wildlife is illegal. Feeding wildlife, can make them dependent upon people and can create dangerous situations. If you feel that you are having a wildlife problem (which can be costly, annoying, or potentially hazardous) the first step is identification of the pest. If you are not sure of the identity, take pictures of tracks, scat, den size and shape, time of day the problem is occurring, damage and any other related observations, and seek help identifying your critter problem (from your local extension office).
Once identification has been confirmed, you can put a management strategy in place. If you are not fond of the wildlife you are enduring, then take the time to remove attractants from your landscape such as shelter and hiding places (firewood piles, thick brush, and snags). Remove food sources such as pet food, household scraps, and do not put your garbage out early. Use deterrents such as fences, commercially sold odors, sound machines, scary decoys, and as a last resort chemicals or traps.
Be aware that moth balls are not an acceptable solution no matter who recommended them! It is illegal to place moth balls in any place other than sites allowed per the label instructions. The same is true with all pest control chemical deterrents and poisons, these labels are federally regulated and provide instructions to keep you, your family, and the environment safe. Next, if you are planning to trap any wild animal, it is important to check myfwc.com to confirm that you are following state regulations and determine if you need a permit. If you live trap any animal, you must check the trap daily and captured animals must be released or euthanized within 24 hours. Be aware that some wildlife can carry diseases, so be certain to keep out of their way if releasing. Nuisance animals such as hogs, coyotes, and armadillos can be hunted and/ or killed year around, but that may not be an option if you are in city limits. Nuisance animals cannot be relocated on any public lands and you must have written permission from the landowner to release them on private property. If you prefer the trap and release method but are not sure if you can do it yourself, hiring a professional nuisance wildlife trapper is a good idea. Regardless of whether you want to hire a trapper or try to take care of the problem yourself, realize that wildlife are valuable to Florida’s ecosystem and many native species are threatened. So before acting, ask for help.