One great thing about living in the country is seeing an abundance of wildlife. If you will stop and just watch nature and the wildlife around you, it can be a very amazing thing.

On our farm, you can see a variety of wildlife including deer, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, rabbits, fox and the occasional turkey to name a few. I even took a few photos of a large fox squirrel on the farm last summer. The same fox squirrel is on the farm this year. I will add that seeing wildlife is not limited to the countryside. One

Saturday morning, I watched deer on the infield of the VFW baseball field. The deer acted like they did that all the time. I will add that even at our Ag Center, we will see the occasional bobcat on the property. On the flip side, sometimes wildlife can become a nuisance in some situations such as animals other than the birds eating the birdseed from a feeder or animals raiding the vegetable garden or fruit orchard. Our article today will share information from a UGA publication by Dr. Mike Mengak, UGA Wildlife Specialist, on how to handle situations where wildlife and humans have conflicts.

For starters, we need to discuss legality issues. You need to remember that state and federal laws protect basically all wildlife. These laws set standards or regulations on which animal species can be harassed, harvested, trapped, hunted or harmed. Wildlife according to Mengak are generally referenced as free-ranging, terrestrial vertebrates. This normally includes snakes, lizards, frogs, toads and all other wild animals. Fish are normally treated separately. When you are dealing with a nuisance wildlife situation, you need to know what you can do legally. According to Mengak, the legality issues can be reviewed by researching the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

If you email me or call the office, I can provide you the number for DNR Game Management that serves this area. Just make sure you are always legal in dealing with wildlife. Note that all native birds are federally protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty\ Act. In fact, citizens may not pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill or possess at any time any migratory bird, their nest or eggs. This includes feathers, shell or any other bird parts. The point is when dealing with nuisance wildlife you need to know what you can do legally or you can find yourself in trouble.

Citizens can protect property from wildlife damage, but you need to seek the correct and legal way to handle the situation. You need to keep one simple thing in mind that wildlife need three things to call a site home. Those items are food, water and shelter. Many times, if you remove one of the three, the nuisance animal will normally leave.

Many times leaving food out for the wildlife is the problem. For example, even the county agent is guilty of feeding his dogs and cats in the evening which may be leaving out more food than the pets can consume in a short period of time. Dog and cat food can make a great easy meal for critters such as an opossum. You can stop the problem by protecting the pet food in a tight sealing container, feed the animals at a time the wild animals normally will not be out searching for food and by only putting out the recommended amount of food for your pets.

I know most people love to watch wildlife. My dad has bird feeders. It is great way to attract birds. At the same time, you can attract squirrels that can raid the feeder or even rodents such as mice that will eat the bird seed that falls to the ground. The point is that when you attract animals you do want, you may attract others that you do not want.

The best thing is to know your wildlife. Mengak states to learn the habits, preferences and requirements of offending animals and try to remove or modify the habitat to make it not as pleasing to that species. During summer months, I can receive many calls on snakes.

Snakes like to consume mice or other rodents. Rodents need cover or shelter to feel safe. If you remove cover or hiding spots for mice, the rodents may become fewer in number. Many times, the snakes will leave because you have reduced or removed the rodent food source for the snake. In some situations, exclusion which can mean fencing or some sort of barrier can work.

Deer can be a big problem in vegetable gardens. Some people may resort to fences, but for deer situations those fences may need to be at least 8 feet taller or even higher. For smaller animals that like to dig, fence material such as chicken wire may have to buried up to a foot in the ground.

Removal and even repellents can work if you follow laws on trapping and even releasing laws. You have to follow proper uses of repellents such as where and on what they can be used on. Note, if a product sounds too good to be true, many times according to Mengak, it is.

If you choose to use a repellent, make sure you read the label for correct use and what that product can and cannot be used on. Trapping may also need to be completed by a licensed wildlife control operator.

For more information, contact UGA Extension-Gordon County at 706-629-8685 or email Extension Agent Greg Bowman at gbowman@uga.edu.

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