Barn Owl Nest Boxes - Size Matters

To those who build and/or install or promote barn owl nest boxes, 

This is a request to come together and agree on minimum overall size requirements and entry hole dimensions and placement.

We see a vast range in dimensions (below). We believe the smaller boxes are an attempt to keep the boxes lightweight, less expensive and easier to install, but that’s not fair to the owls. That’s like saying that you need to live in an 8’ X 8’ home because that’s easiest and less costly.

34.5 X 21 X 23
30 X 14 X 16
26 X 17 X 17
23 X 11 X 16
18 X 10 X 22
17 X 15 X 22
12 X 12 X 16

Barn owls stand about 14” tall with a wingspan as great as 43”. We have watched a male roost in the same box with his mate while she’s brooding. Even with six chicks, we have seen both parents stay in the box during the day until they were about a month old. We credit this to the size of our boxes, allowing enough room for the family to stay together. As owlets near fledging age, they need to exercise their flight muscles. We’ve watched them hop and pounce and flap their wings - practicing being an owl. There’s no room for owlets to do that in a small box. 

We agree with the Barn Owl Trust’s minimum floor size for an American barn of about 29” X 23.6” (50% greater than for the European species).

An ideal nesting box would be much bigger: a full 1 metre (39.37”) from the bottom of the entrance hole to the bottom of the box and with a floor area of at least 1 metre (39.37”)  x 1 metre (39.37”). However, owl boxes that big would be very difficult to erect and more expensive. (Barn Owl Trust web site)

ENTRY HOLE PLACEMENT AND SIZE

From bottom of entrance hole to nest floor must be not less than 18”. (Barn Owl Trust web site)

Again, we agree with the Barn Owl Trust, that the nests should be deep. Placement of the portal is critical for the welfare of the young owls. Too low, and the young owls will fall out prematurely, risking injury and death. 

We have found that 10” - 11” from the base of the floor (with 2” shavings) to the entry hole can keep young owls contained until they are light and mostly flighted, but if the height of your box allows for it, place the entry at the suggested 18”.

The size of the hole is also critical. Too large, and predators will have easier access. But the hole can be too small. From research and experience, we believe the entry hole should be elliptical 5” wide by 4.5” high of a 5” square.

TAKE THE PLEDGE

Providing barn owl nest boxes is about providing a safe location for a pair of owls to raise their young - that has to be our priority. We mustn't let convenience be an excuse for substandard nest boxes. 

Please, pledge with me now to only build/install adequate nest boxes with minimum width of 16” and a length that achieves a diagonal measurement of 36” and a height no less than 18”. Pledge to make entry holes no less than 10” above the surface of the floor, accounting for shavings and buildup of pellets.

Here is the temporary link to our live-streaming owlets in one of our boxes. There are 6 owlets - one comes and goes, now.



Thank you!

PRODUCT REVIEW: Crenova iScope Waterproof Inspection Camera

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In our line of work, sometimes we need to inspect inside walls or other inaccessible spots to locate trapped or nesting animals. The Crenova iScope was recommended by a colleague, and seems to be a decent tool for the job, and, at $20.00 on Amazon - you just can't beat the price.

The quality of images isn't bad. The HD model supports 1280 X 720. The camera's 6 LED's can be turned On and Off and dimmed. The optimal focus area is about 2" to 3" and the cable is about 16' in length. Overall, I think this will be an excellent addition to our toolbox.

I played around with it a bit this morning. While I don't have the right adapter for my iPhone, I was able to connect the camera via USB to my MacBook and iMac successfully.

With the camera connected, I opened Photo Booth and from the dropdown menu under Camera, selected the HD Endoscope Camera, and voila. To capture images, you can turn off the annoying countdown by holding the Option key when selecting the camera icon or hitting Return.

Here are a couple of images captured through Photo Booth:

Tufted titmouse nestlings.




Here is a shot taken from my iMac using an interface from VideoLan. Here are the instructions on using it:
1. Download the latest version of the VLC Media Player and install it; 
2. Connect the endoscope to the computer and open the VLC media player; 
4. In VLC Media Player, click File in the Menu and select Open Capture Device; 
5. In that window, click in the video check box and select the HD Endoscope Camera; 
6. Set the resolution to 1200 for Image Width and 720 for Image Height, then click on Open.




Mouse in the house



I just have to share good moments, working with people who share our compassion for animals.

This morning, one of our clients called to give me an update. We'd rodent-proofed their home over a week ago, sealing up all the gaps and possible intrusion points and making sure there weren't any large animals living under the home. Then, we started the rat and mouse removal process, which involves setting live-catch traps in the crawlspaces.

The traps need to be checked every morning so any rats or mice caught during the night can be set free outside and not suffer in the cage all day. We offer daily trap checks, but we're more than happy to let residents do this portion of the process, as these homeowners had chosen to do. We left them with a small trap and instructions.

A couple of days later they called to report the bait inside the trap had been taken each night, and once time the trap had been tripped, but there was no animal inside it. Clearly we were dealing with smaller, lighter creatures.

We switched out the rat-sized trap for one made with smaller mesh.

Finally, they captured and released two mice.

Then, a day or so later, they saw an even smaller mouse - maybe a young one - easily capable of squeezing through the bars of the cage.

We'll be delivering a multi-catch live trap later in the week. Until then, I suggested leaving some healthy food for the little one - a piece of apple, carrot, maybe a bottle cap of water - they were more than happy to do so.

It's so nice to work with people who are kind and open-hearted, wanting to protect their home but not wanting to harm the animals, not even a mouse.



DIY humane rat and mouse eviction



Ridding one's home of mice and rats can be a bit labor intensive, frustrating at times, but, once completed, the home should be rodent-free for many, many years.

The following post describes how to protect your home from rats and mice, for good, without using poison or other lethal means. 

Before using live traps, you'll want to find out how they're getting in. 

Think about it this way - if you're in a boat that's filling with water, you would want to find and plug the holes before bailing, right? 

So, the first step is to locate the intrusion points. Look for holes and gaps that are 1/2" and larger. Be meticulous. 

Heavily used entry points will usually show staining.



Entry points can be sealed using caulking, copper mesh, and 1/4" hardware cloth. Avoid using foam - mice and rats can easily gnaw through it. 

If you find a breach that is 4" or greater, there could be larger animals inside - like a raccoon or an opossum. You'll need to take a different approach, especially during baby season. Give us a call for advice.

Where a hole goes into a wall or an area where you won't be able to set a cage trap, a one-way device allows an animal to get out and not get back in. The video below shows a one-way device in use.





The same day we finish sealing a home we set live-capture traps, like the Little Giantinside the crawlspaces - the attic and subfloor area. 

Rats can be neophobic - scared of new things, and may not go into a cage trap for a few days, so, in addition to placing bait in the trap, we also set a few small pieces on the outside of the cage. If the bait disappears, at least we know rodents are present.

The traps must be checked every morning, as early as possible so the animals don't suffer long in the cage. The animals can be released just outdoors in familiar habitat. No need to take them anywhere else if you've done a good job of sealing your home.

Once you have zero catches after about a week and and the bait next to the cage has not disappeared, then you can stop trapping. 

In addition to removing the animals from your home, check your yard for attractants - what's drawing them to your property? Wildlife will be attracted by food and shelter resources - wood piles, bird feeders, compost bins, fruit trees, pet and livestock feed. Do your best to reduce these resources or the rodents access to them.

Just in case you're planning to use snap traps, never set them outdoors, unprotected, where other animals and children can reach them. There are special protective boxes that can be used to enclose snap traps.




Don't use poison! 

Rodenticide is passed to other animals when poisoned mice and rats are consumed. 

Rodents are the target but not the only victims - it's a serious issue - read all about it HERE.

Help ban the use of anticoagulant rodenticides in California by signing this petition, HERE.



The only wildlife-safe rodenticide on the market in the US is RatX. Its grain-based formula is safe for all other animals. You can now find RatX online and at the Home Depot.

If you have a large enough yard and live in an area frequented by barn owls, consider installing a barn owl nest box to encourage more barn owls. They are excellent in controlling rodents. Check out the recent news article about our barn owl boxes, HERE.

Watch our streaming barn owl nest, HERE.


If you have any questions or concerns or if you'd like to set up an appointment, give us a call at 855-548-6263.


A picture worth a thousand words


This picture was sent to us by someone worried about a coyote in their neighborhood.

Do you see what this is?

It's a coyote suffering from mange - an infestation of mites has caused the animal to lose fur and break out in sores. The coyote's ears indicate how cold and miserable it feels. 

Look what it's standing next to. A poison bait station for rodents. 

Perhaps the coyote is waiting for its next meal - another poison-laced mouse or rat. 

Could this be the cause of this poor animal's failing condition? 


Opossum in a garage...

Today we were called out to remove an opossum that had found its way into a garage, squeezing under a slight opening under the front door. 

It had made itself at home, probably venturing out during the night to do its 'possum-thing, eating slugs and snails and foraging for other edibles, which, unfortunately too often, includes pet food left out overnight.

Our technician, Michael Gunderson, is new to HWC and this was his first opossum capture. 
Rebecca is very knowledgeable and skilled in the proper and humane techniques for handling wildlife so she gave me a crash course on handling an opossum. 
After locating the animal, Michael gently restrained it behind the head and around its shoulders and gently lifted and carried the marsupial outside. 
The animal remained calm and relaxed, as did I, so it went without a hitch and it was released unharmed on site. 
It's days like this one that make me really enjoy working with Duane and Rebecca. They share the same concern and passion for wildlife and conservation as I do and always put the safety of an animal over everything else.  
Of course, it would've been ideal to release the opossum during the evening but that's just not always practical. At least it's on its own turf where it is familiar with obstacles and what to avoid. It's really awful for animals that are relocated - taken far away and dumped, which is illegal in California, and for good reason.

Check out the video:






What do you think about coyotes in Laguna Beach?

There's a proposed plan before the City of Long Beach to increase trapping and killing of coyotes - blanket trapping in early spring to kill the pregnant females, and in fall to kill off the young of the year. 

Apparently, this plan was offered by Animal Pest Management - a pest control company that had been contracted with the city for its services but has since (a week or so ago) been terminated. The city replaced APM with Critter Busters. 

Critter Busters was hired to exterminate coyotes for the City of Seal Beach - gassing them. In this article councilman Michael Levitt regrets approving the contract with Critter Busters when he learned how the animals suffered when killed. 

What do you think about coyotes and the plan to increase trapping and killing? If you live in the area, please take our survey. This survey is for residents of Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Aliso Viejo.

Long Beach Coyotes

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Image by Dru Bloomfield

Over the last few months, a group of Long Beach residents have become very vocal about the presence of coyotes in their neighborhoods, demanding coyotes be trapped and killed. It seems to be a relatively small group of individuals from two Facebook groups, Coyote Watch Long Beach and Coyote Watch Garden Grove, who have, since 2013, been leading a campaign to force state and local government to eradicate coyotes. 

From my brief involvement (until I was blocked), it was clear the administrators of the groups were not open to listening to other views or to sound solutions, they were out for blood.

Their complaints caught the attention of Long Beach Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, who offered to bring the issue before the City Council at their August meeting.




Not all of the group's members advocate for killing the coyotes, they just want to feel safe and they want to protect their pets, understandably, but there has been a tremendous amount of misinformation being given out, creating needless hype and hysteria. 

I attended the council meeting on August 11th to support Councilwoman Mungo's proposal to direct the Long Beach Animal Care Services to study the city's coyote problem and come up with a better plan. We hope this will lead to formal adoption of a Coyote Management Plan similar to the one adopted by City of Calabasas in 2011. Check it out, HERE.

Since adopting the plan, which reserves lethal control for attacks on humans, Calabasas has experienced a reduction in the number of calls about coyotes, and those, they say, are mostly from newcomers unfamiliar with coyotes.

I also took the opportunity on the podium to address a few misconceptions about coyotes.

Coyotes are closely related to jackals, like the one pictured above. Like jackals, coyotes are predominantly scavengers.

Coyotes are more scavengers than they are predators. 

They do not stalk humans, but like the jackal in Africa, tailing lions for leftovers, coyotes are exhibiting the exact same behavior when they follow humans. They do not see humans as prey, but associate us with food.

Coyotes do not have established dens except when pups are first born. The notion that there are numerous dens throughout Long Beach is farfetched.

As for the idea that coyotes should not be seen in an urban setting, the urban environment is a modern-day ecosystem, often rich in resources. Many wild species are attracted by these resources, and therein lies the key to reducing their presence: reduce the availability of resources and you'll reduce the presence of wild animals in backyards and neighborhoods. It is truly that simple!

As for trapping and killing coyotes, which is being pushed for by a certain group of Long Beach residents - coyotes are difficult to capture in cage traps, so trappers often use snare-like devices. If the animals don't strangle to death before the trapper returns, they surely suffer when restrained and killed. Snares pose a risk to other animals and children. See video of a coyote rescued from a snare, HERE.



If C02 gas is used to kill the coyotes, as it has been used in neighboring community of Seal Beach (news article HERE), the animals will suffer tremendously. 

The pain and distress associated with CO2 as a killing agent is a serious welfare concern and has been deemed unacceptable for dogs an cats by the World Society for the Protection of Animals. The American Veterinary Medical Association does not recommend use of CO2 unless the suffering can be minimized, essentially rendering the animal unconscious before administering the gas.

The truth is, trapping and killing urban wildlife as a means of managing their populations is not only an outdated practice, it is not a long-term solution.

Long Beach will never be completely free of coyotes, they are part of the landscape. Attempts to eradicate them has been and always will be futile. The answer is to limit their resources and make the area less hospitable.

Coyotes are extremely smart and adaptable, modifying their behavior to their habitat. Urban coyotes reflect human behavior - their behavior is the mirror image, expressing, ever so accurately, the environment in which they live. In Long Beach, then, we see the influence of humans acting poorly, shaping the coyotes to what they have become.

The good news is, since it’s a people problem, there's great potential for change.

Before my trip to Long Beach for the meeting, I was contacted by a Lakewood Village resident who said her small dog narrowly escaped an attack by a coyote. She'd let it out the front door for just a few minutes - briefly unattended, and she heard a Yip. She ran outside to find her dog escaping a coyote that was now in her driveway. She picked up her small dog and shooed off the coyote.

She proceeded to tell me that coyotes had been seen on Warwood Road quite often lately, and that they would frequent the backyard of the house across the street from her, where she suspects there's a den. I told her I would check it out when I was in town.

So, the morning after the Long Beach City Council meeting (article about it HERE) I headed for Lakewood Village I started out early, at about 5:30 am, making my way from downtown, hoping to see a coyote... especially since one of the roads was named Los Coyotes Diagonal, right?

The sun was just coming up, the streets were getting busier.

I drove through a couple of quiet neighborhoods. It was trash day - cans were out on the street and I found a number of trash receptacles overfilled, where wildlife could have access to garbage. Overall, the streets were clean. I did find litter on the college campus.

I documented my findings using Theodolite, an app for accurate geotagging of photographs.





It was about 6:30 when I got to Lakewood Village. There were a lot of people on the streets, walking their dogs, jogging... 

It was about 7:00 when I spotted a coyote trotting down one of the streets, going from yard to yard, looking in bushes and scanning. He was extremely alert and wary. I followed him for a while, not applying to much pressure. I wanted to observe as normal behavior as possible.

After a while, I started hazing him. I tested him with a penny can first, from my truck, and got the normal reaction - very little. Wild animals don't really see a human as a threat when they are part of a larger object - inside a car or on a horse. 


The coyote in Lakewood Village on August 12th. He's staring at me waiting for direction - which way I am going to go.

Then I approached on foot, shaking the noisemaker - he bolted.

I pursued him, quietly, keeping a distance so I could engage him again at close range. I would sneak up on foot or head him off. I was able to haze him at least 5 times with either the penny-can and scare stick. 

At one point, a person ran out of their house and chased the coyote down the block. The coyote would dart across lawns and around corners, avoiding cars and people. Finally, I lost him when he scaled a block wall and jumped into the yard of what appeared to be an abandoned home. Interestingly, it this was just a couple of houses away from where I'd been told the coyotes had a den.

I rang the doorbell of the home where the coyotes were said to be living, and offered my assistance in resolving the issue.

The homeowner was delighted, and showed me where she thought they were living - under the home!




Sure enough, the crawlspace access door was broken through. The surface of the dirt near the entrance was "polished" - a sign that animals were coming and going. 

The resident had been hearing noises under the house, on and off for months, and actually saw a coyote go through the hole, so she knew she had a problem but couldn't find anyone to help. I assured her we would get them out, safely.




It didn't take long for me to install one of our one-way doors - it's like a doggy-door that allows animals to come out but they can't get back in. I'll return to remove the device and fix the opening permanently in a couple of weeks.

Piecing it all together... considering the homeowner had heard whimpering at one point and that she and neighbors had observed coyotes coming and going from under the house, this could possibly be a natal den - where pups were born earlier in the year. 

That would make sense... the increase in coyote sightings, the increase in the number of cats missing, the "bold" coyotes - just standing there - these could be the younger ones that haven't learned to fear humans yet. It makes sense.

After installing the one-way door I drove just under half a mile to the Warwood residence, where neighbors were concerned there was a den.

As I walked to the front door, I passed some familiar plants - California natives!!! White sage, purple sage, lemonade berry... and... coyote bush. A little patch of what used to be here... 

An older gentleman answered the door. I explained I was there to check out the backyard for coyotes if that was alright with him. He agreed... he escorted me to the back yard.

More natives!!! Sycamore and bay laurel, my favorite!

Although the grass was tall and there was a wood pile and it could use some tidying up, there was no sign of a den. Perhaps the coyotes were attracted to the cool shade and the natives and the quiet...

I looked around a little bit more, and, in the grass I found the partial remains of a cat.

Very sad for the cat. A preventable loss if the owner had kept it inside or in an outdoor enclosure. 




Having confirmed coyote activity in the yard, I decided to place a solar-powered motion-activated ultrasonic repeller that would make sounds and flash a light when triggered.

So far, so good. I spoke with a neighbor who had complained that the noise from the coyotes were keeping her up at night, and she said they'd stopped. Great!

Throughout the morning, I stopped and spoke with people who were out walking. I wanted to find out the truth... Was this neighborhood up in arms over the coyotes or was it just a few residents who were overly concerned? 

I spoke with a woman walking a small yorky-mix and asked if she was aware of the coyotes and if she was afraid walking her small dog. She said "No," she'd seen them but wasn't afraid - that they were "just like any other dog."

I spoke with another woman walking two small dogs and asked her if she felt safe with coyotes being in the neighborhood, and she said she sees them but doesn't worry, that it's more "panic in the streets" than anything else. 

Check out the video of that morning:



Bottom line, the residents of Long Beach want to feel safe and they want to protect their pets, understandably. Since the problem begins and ends with people, educating them on why the problem exists and what they can do to help the situation is essential.


To help educate the community about best practices for staying safe where coyotes are present, I'll be giving 2 presentations in the Long Beach. On August 27th at the El Dorado Nature Center from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, and the 28th at the El Dorado Community Center. I'll be demonstrating proper hazing techniques and use of a variety of hazing tools and deterrents, and showing examples of various ideas for safe backyards. News coverage, HERE.




Mother raccoon moves out during the day

Today, we went to work on a home in Pacific Grove, shoring up all the vents except for one so the mother raccoon inside could still come and go. The next step would be to apply a repellent barrier with a certain mix of essential oils to encourage her to move her babies to another location. Sometimes we install an electronic device in the crawlspace to add pressure.

Well, today, we didn't need to do any of that. The mother raccoon was so upset by us working around the exterior of her "den", that she decided to move one of her babies while we were on site.

Her intrusion point was above a window on the second floor, with very poor gripping points, so we placed two ladders to help her out, literally. Check out the footage:

Abandoned Magpie ducks


This weekend we collected two domestic ducks that had been abandoned at Westlake Park in Santa Cruz. The ducks were not being maintained - fed a proper diet, and they were aggressive towards wild waterfowl. 

On our initial visit to assess the situation, we found the two black and white ducks together, foraging along the shoreline of the small lake. From their coloration and upright carriage, we believe they are Magpies - a fairly unusual breed of domestic duck.

The Magpie duck is believed to have originated in Wales in the early 1900s, and was first imported to the United States in 1963.

The two ducks were a bit skittish, as though they had been chased, or perhaps someone had tried to capture them unsuccessfully. It took a few days before we were able to collect them.

They were transported to the local animal shelter where they will be fed and cared for until they are adopted.

Magpies are a hardy variety of domestic duck, living approximately 9-12 years. They are good layers, producing over 220 eggs annually and they are active foragers, eagerly consuming slugs and snails and insects. A great addition to a home farm.

Quiet restored


This week, HWC was called to collect two un-owned Indian peafowl from a quiet residential area in the hills above Soquel, CA.

The Indian peafowl is found in the drier lowland areas of Sri Lanka on the Indian subcontinent. It has been introduced to many parts of the world by collectors and often, as in this case, they are allowed to roam freely, establishing feral populations.

The two males - one white and the other sporting the standard metallic blue-green colors, wandered into the rural subdivision a few weeks ago, and stayed. With their loud calls at dawn and a bad habit of hopping onto parked cars, their presence soon became a nuisance.
Just captured - Mary and Barbara hold on tight to
the peacock as it's carried to the transport vehicle.

On Monday, we successfully captured the larger peacock. The younger, white peafowl was more skittish and elusive.

Yesterday, however, we were able to bait the bird close enough to capture. 

The birds were transported to Santa Cruz County Shelter where they will be available for adoption.






Take the Coyote Challenge!



By the time we're contacted, a coyote has often become a problem - there's been a loss or there's fear of an imminent attack. The animal is a perceived threat that must be removed without delay.

When it comes to coyotes, we find people are usually set in their misbeliefs and are far less willing to change their habits than with other species - less willing to adapt to living with these animals as part of their environment, less willing to invest in making modifications to their property even if that is what will solve the problem, yet, they are often quite demanding that something be done, admonishing local officials for not taking action to protect their home, family and pets.

For these people, we offer the Coyote Challenge.

The Coyote Challenge is our pushback to those who believe nothing less than lethal control will work. The Coyote Challenge is also a way for us to help those who truly cannot afford to invest in non-lethal control measures. 

In return, participants agree to share their account of the process - and the results - which we expect will be that their coyote problem has been resolved, for good.

With each challenge being documented from beginning to end, we see this as a great opportunity to help people and coyotes while gathering conclusive evidence that non-lethal control methods do work.

The Coyote Challenge officially launched last month and we have 3 applications in the review process.

We will be donating our time but supplies, equipment and associated travel costs will be covered through a fund that has been set up through Wildlife Emergency Services.

To apply for help through the Coyote Challenge, email help@humanecontrol.com or call 855-548-6263. Click the Donate button below if you'd like to contribute toward the fund that offsets the cost of equipment and such. 

 




So, this skunk walks into an office and...



This morning we were called about a skunk that was seen inside an office building. 

It wondered inside the building through a door that was left open and then apparently lost its way within the labyrinth of cubicles. 

It took shelter in a corner office. 

Workers closed the door and posted warning signs.







When we arrived, we found the adult skunk tucked back behind a large work station. The animal was bright and alert but unwilling to budge from its corner hiding spot. 

We decided to hold off until nightfall when the skunk would be more apt to move.  

Meanwhile, workers offered to bring in large sheets of plywood to build a corridor leading from the back corner office through the building to the closest exit. A good plan!




Duane and I returned after dark to find the plywood in place, creating a clear passage to the outside, but the skunk was still in its hiding spot.

Skunks can be very stubborn and difficult to move. Why should they comply, right? 

Skunks will tolerate an extreme amount of quiet nudging and poking and prodding without giving an inch. But air - breath - can sometimes get animals to move on.

We decided to give that a try rather than risk more aggressive tactics. We rigged a delivery system using a very long piece of thin plastic tubing - like you'd find at an aquarium store, and we attached it to a strip of wood.

Duane positioned the tip of the tube at the skunk's lower back region and gave it a little puff. 

Without lifting its tail, the skunk moved forward about three feet. 

After a few seconds, another puff of air sent the skunk out from behind the unit - it shot out of the office, down the corridor and out through the open doors. YES!

Outside, the skunk seemed to know right where it was as it shimmied through openings in a fence and off into the night where it belonged.

Check out the video:


Nesting mallard at Wells Fargo





This week we received a call regarding a duck acting aggressively at a Wells Fargo near Watsonville, CA. We went to check it out and, sure enough, a mallard hen was nesting in the planter at the entrance to the bank.

We advised the bank manager that we were not allowed to remove the duck or harm her nest, but we could place a blind to shield her from disturbances and help protect patrons.






Lion Lights

Check out this amazing video about a young man's invention that saved his family's cattle and lions' lives!


Here's his Ted Talk:

Mother of Five Evicted



When Duane and Rebecca of Wildlife Emergency Services aren't out rescuing animals on their own time and dime, they're busy helping resolve human-wildlife conflicts - which helps support their charitable endeavors.

One recent job involved a mother raccoon - a mother of five, that took up residency in the space between the bathtub and walls of a home in Freedom, CA.




There was no way to reach the babies, except through the walls. Duane drilled a couple of holes in the drywall to gain access to both sides of the tub, and encouraged the mom to move on. Once she was under the house and blocked from re-entering the den, he pulled out the kits.

The babies were placed in a large cardboard box insulated with balled-up newspaper, and the box was set right by the main access to under the house - the one the mother raccoon used nightly.

There, Duane installed a one-way door to allow the raccoon to get out, but prevented her from re-entering.


Check out the video of the eviction process:



That night, the family watched as the mother raccoon came for each of her babies, and carried them off to an alternate den site.

Raccoons are amazing creatures. If you haven't seen this PBS program, Raccoon Nation, be sure to. It will open your eyes to the unique and amazing world of the raccoon!


Raccoon Evicted


A mother of four was evicted from her home in Santa Cruz, CA, yesterday.

The raccoon mother had been observed under a house near Twin Lakes State Beach, in Santa Cruz.


After donning protective clothing, Rebecca entered the crawlspace where the mother had been seen. She found the nest, cautiously gathered the babies into a sack, and shuttled them out. They were placed in a box insulated with newspaper to keep them warm.

Next, Duane attempted to chase the mother out from under the building. It worked!



After exiting, the mother raccoon stayed nearby, hiding under the deck. 
Cries from her babies were used to draw her to the reunion box.

One of the cubs was placed out in the open for her to retrieve - she quickly gathered up the crying infant and carried it off to another den site.


The remaining three babies were left inside the reunion box and set near where the raccoon had been entering.

By early evening she had reclaimed all but one, then, sometime during the night she came back for the last one.
Success.

We want to thank the homeowners for calling Humane Pest Control and for allowing us to solve their wildlife problem safely and humanely.


Check out the video.

Gulls

Duane Titus mounts a bird deterrent on a rooftop to discourage gulls.


This week, Duane installed some devices on a rooftop in Pacific Grove to deter gulls from loafing and nesting there

When he first climbed onto the roof, an adult Western gull landed on the chimney and watched.

Gulls are very intelligent birds and have adapted well to urban environments. Check out THIS article on herring gulls in the UK.








Gull standing next to plastic owl meant to scare them off.


The Wildlife Intrusion Delusion



It's that time of year, again. We're just a few weeks away from the birthing season for urban wildlife, like squirrels, skunks and raccoons. 

Before it's too late, homeowners should have one last look around their property for signs of unwanted guests, because, once babies arrive, getting rid of the animals becomes much more difficult. Not impossible, just a lot more work!

Baby raccoons in a reunion box waiting for their mother.

Signs of an intrusion include ripped siding, pulled back screens, missing vents, and holes leading under a structure's foundation.

If openings are found, residents should not seal up the gaps, as this risks entombing animals inside, but instead, contact a professional company that will focus, not on the animals, but their access points.

The animals are not the problem, they are a symptom.

The real problem is the reason the animals have invaded, which is either food, shelter, or both. When we take these things away, the animals leave.

There will always be squirrels, skunks, opossum, raccoon and coyote residing in or near populated areas.


That's why trapping and killing wild animals is not a long-term solution.


Trapping is an outdated practice that removes a few individual animals, but does nothing to permanently solve the problem.

Even if they were all eradicated at once, more would come, as the urban landscape is a niche - a modern ecosystem that can support a number of wild creatures, and therein lies the key - how many?

Urban wildlife populations can be controlled sustainably by limiting their access to food and shelter. For example, shoring up holes in buildings, making sure garbage bins are shut, and that no pet food is left outside.




For those with small pets or livestock, their enclosures must be built, not to keep them inside, but designed to keep predators out.


If communities would make a concerted effort to do these things, they would surely see a reduction in wildlife conflicts. Trapping, though, is not the answer, for many reasons.

In California, relocating trapped wildlife is prohibited. Relocation spreads disease among wild populations, and research has shown that many relocated animals meet their demise as they try to return home.

In California, then, legally trapped nuisance wild animals must be released on site or destroyed.

Lethal control will be futile, though, and in some cases - like with coyotes, it can cause a species to have greater and larger litters.




What is effective in protecting people, their pets and their property, is working with resident animals to solve specific problems permanently.

Sustainable methods include eviction and exclusion from structures, aversion systems, and use of non-harmful repellants.

In and around the Bay Area there are only a handful or service providers, specializing in non-lethal wildlife control, including A Wildlife Exclusion Service, serving Sonoma and Napa counties, WildCare Solutions in Marin, and Humane Pest Control, serving the Peninsula and the East Bay, south, including Monterey County and portions of Los Angeles.

These businesses can be contacted directly or through our California wildlife referral hotline at 1-866-WILD-911, extension 2.

In the meantime, for residents who locate a breach in their home, like a broken subfloor vent, we have a simple method to confirm the presence of a nocturnal animal and a trick to getting them to move on. Give us a call at 855-548-6263 for a visit or over-the-phone consultation to receive this information.

Please note, in California, anyone trapping 'nuisance' wildlife must comply with applicable local and state regulations. Traps must bear a number or identifying mark registered with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (Title 14 CCR Section 465.5 f 1). A person proposing to set a trap within 150 yards of a habitable dwelling (other than their own), must first acquire written consent of those surrounding homeowners (Title 14 CCR Section 465.5 g 3). Traps must be inspected and animals removed at least once in 24 hours. 

It is not enough that someone is annoyed with wildlife on their property, they must show damage to crops or property before fur-bearers or non-game mammals may be taken under Fish and Wildlife Code 4152, and then, only the animal(s) causing the damage may be taken - non-target animals that are inadvertently trapped must be released.

Trapping is not the answer!