Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

ID: Ask the Conservation Officer: Nuisance animals

Question: “I’m having problems with skunks around my house. What
can I do to keep them away?”

Answer: Spring is the time when many wild animals begin looking
for places to make their summer home, find easy foraging for food,
and raise their young.

Warm temperatures also mean humans start spending more time

Now is the time people should do a thorough evaluation of their
property for opportunities for nuisance birds and animals.
Scattered garbage or refuse, pet food, and birdfeeders should be
cleaned up and put away for the summer.

Holes in foundations of buildings or in the skirting of trailers
are inviting places for wild animals to take up residence. Now is
also the time to repair woodpecker holes and close up other
inviting openings in your eaves for squirrels, starlings, and

Homeowners must also be vigilant to prevent swallows from
packing mud into the eaves of a house. Continuous removal of the
mud and providing an alternate nesting site usually results in the
swallows moving to the alternate. For plans for an alternate nest
area for swallows contact your local Idaho Fish and Game regional

Most wild animals easily adapt to human food. Skunks, foxes, and
raccoons will take young fowl raised for human table-fare. They are
also adept at eating birdseed, fruit, and pet food left outside
intended for the cats or dogs.

Porcupines pose a threat to many pets and can girdle valuable
landscaping but if handled carefully can be easily removed from
residential areas and released back into the wild. Once they are on
the ground, a broom or long handled shovel can be used to sweep
them into a garbage can. Place the lid on the upright can and
transport them out of the area for release.

Hawks and owls thrive in close proximity to humans and
agriculture. For many farmers they are worth their weight in gold
due to their focus on crop eating rodents. Great horned owls are
also an important predator on skunks. If owners fail to take
precautions they can also prey on small domestic pets.

Hawks and owls have also been known to draw blood while
protecting their nests. In areas where this is a problem we usually
recommend allowing the birds to raise their young and leave the
nest and then removing the nest for the following year.

In the Hailey area, now is the time to make plans for bear-proof
refuse containers. Bear-proof dumpsters used in subdivisions and
around restaurants make those areas less attractive to black bears.
I strongly suggest all concessionaires utilize bear-proof

As bears develop patterns of use on human food sources, our
attempts to protect landowners and the public become less
effective. With each success at getting the “easy meal” bears get
bolder and more determined to defeat attempts to protect private

In several cases last year bears entered residences and made a
shambles inside the houses. Bears that habituate to human food
present a significant threat to public safety. Those showing
aggressive tendencies will be humanely killed. It’s much easier to
prevent a bear problem than it is to correct it once it

Hikers need to be aware of wildlife in the springtime as well.
Sow bears with cubs and cow moose with calves are not fond of human
intrusion. They are even less fond of fido walking at your side.
The lesson here is make sure they know you’re coming, make lots of
noise, and they will move out of your way.

Like old Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a
pound of cure.” Take inventory of your situation and decide how to
best protect yourself from nuisance animals.

If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley
Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at
(208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at


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