Rules of Engagement
skunks, raccoons or armadillos that are digging in your yard? Are your chickens being killed by foxes, bobcats, raccoons, hawks or owls? Is the animal in the pond a beaver, muskrat or river otter?
Each animal leaves telltale signs in the form of feces, tracks, style of digging and the way they kill and feed. Identifying those signs can help you take the most appropriate action.
The fourth rule is "withdraw the welcome mat" by making your property less attractive to problem animals. Trim back tree limbs to make it harder for squirrels to reach the house. Plant tall grasses and/or shrubs along the shore of a lake to discourage geese. If deer are eating up your garden and shrubbery, landscape with plants that deer don't like. If foxes or coyotes are threatening pets, consider fencing the yard. If snakes are giving you the creeps, clear away any debris or firewood near the house that might provide cover for them and the animals they eat.
The fifth rule is "lure them away." Planting alfalfa away from the house can help keep deer from munching on our landscaping plants. Planting bluegrass/clover on the far side of the lake, while planting tall grasses on the side near the house, can reduce "goose nuisance" on your lawn or patio. Providing nesting boxes for squirrels and roosting houses for bats will give them a better alternative to nesting in your attic.
The sixth rule is "scare them if you can." Scarecrows help protect gardens by keeping birds away. Many other scare devices will work to frighten or rattle wildlife. These might include pie pans and flashy ribbons, fireworks, scary-eye balloons, dogs, chemical repellents, laser guns and motion-activated sprinklers. Your "weapon" of choice will depend on the animal involved and the particular situation.
If all else fails, the Wildlife Code of Missouri includes a "trump" rule that allows landowners to protect their property by trapping or shooting some species of wildlife where local ordinances don't prohibit these methods. On Page 4 of the Wildlife Code under 3 CSR 10-4.130, it states:
"Subject to federal regulations governing the protection of property from migratory birds, any wildlife except deer, turkey, black bears and endangered species which beyond a reasonable doubt is damaging property may be captured or killed by the owner of the property being damaged, or by his/her representative at any time and without permit, but