sometimes touted as a quick solution to conflicts
with “nuisance” wildlife, there is a little
known “dark side” to live-trapping and
People who use the technique may believe they have
found a quick solution to their nuisance wildlife
problem, perhaps a woodchuck living under their deck
or a raccoon getting into their garbage cans. But
their success is usually short-lived. The reason is
that while the offending animal has been trapped and
moved elsewhere, their deck still looks attractive
to the next passing woodchuck and the unprotected
garbage will attract the next raccoon who gets a whiff
There is a saying,“Nature abhors a vacuum.”
This is certainly true when it comes to wildlife relocation.
If you live-trap and move one animal, another will
move into the “vacuum” you created when
you removed the first animal from its territory. You
can see why relocating animals seldom results in a
long-term solution to conflicts with wildlife. In
fact, there was a newspaper report several years ago
about a gentleman who, almost as a hobby, had set
about live-trapping and relocating nearly every wild
animal that happened into his yard. After ten years,
this person had moved hundreds of gray squirrels and
dozens of other animals such as raccoons, woodchucks
and opossums. Of course, this man did not have 300
squirrels living in his yard at one time, but moving
one animal out made room for others. These are often
young animals moving out of their parent’s territory
to find their own.
Furthermore, relocated animals often have a difficult
time surviving after they are moved. A relocated animal
does not know where food, water and shelter are located,
is not aware of dangers such as predators in this
new area and has to compete with others of her kind
to establish a new territory of her own. Animals such
as squirrels that store food for when food is otherwise
scarce will almost certainly die if they are relocated
during the winter.
Yet another little known consequence of animal relocation
is the accidental separation of a mother from her
babies. The vast majority of these baby animals die.
Some are found and taken to rehabilitators, such as
our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Caring for these
needlessly orphaned youngsters places a further burden
on the limited resources available to care for numerous
other needy creatures.
The real solution to solving problems with backyard
wildlife is removing the attractive features that
cause wild animals to transgress in the first place,
ideally before a problem ever occurs. “An ounce
of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly
true when it comes to dealing with backyard wildlife.
Before you have a family of raccoons living in your
chimney, have your chimney capped. Before you have
squirrels living in your attic, repair loose or rotten
soffit and fascia boards on your house and so on.
A great source of information for being pro-active
in animal-proofing your house can be found in our
Wildlife Gallery at the shelter. Our “Animal
House” display shows dozens of simple ways you
can prevent problems with backyard wildlife.
If a wildlife problem occurs, it can almost always
be solved without relocating the problem animal. If
you would like help in solving your wildlife problems,
call our Wildlife Tip-Lines at 414-431-6137. You can
then speak with a Wildlife Volunteer or staff person
if you have further questions. We also sell a variety
of humane nuisance animal management products hand-picked
by our wildlife experts through Wally’s Workbench
at the shelter and online.