The Wildlife-Friendly Habitat Conundrum

Every day New Mexico Wildlife Center receives phone calls from individuals looking for solutions to wildlife issues: the skunk under the house, the raccoons in the chimney, snakes in the garden and barn owls in the attic. Or they are concerned that a hawk has killed a bird at their feeder or a snake ate the nest full of baby birds. In contrast, many people try to attract wildlife to their home by providing bird feeders, bird houses, bird baths, squirrel feeders and gardens that attract wildlife. Often times, these are the same people. By attracting one species, you will inevitably attract its predator or its competition. Small birds at the bird feeder will attract snakes and small raptors. Cat food left outside for feral cats will attract raccoons. A water fountain will attract skunks. There is a reason you chose to live where you do and typically that reason was the beauty of the landscape and the animals that inhabit it.

Why Not Relocation?

New Mexico Wildlife Center is often asked to refer callers to an animal relocator. We do not provide these services, nor do we recommend calling someone who does. Relocated animals generally do not survive when moved. By taking them out of their home range, they are now unable to find food, shelter and water. Additionally, many animals are territorial and if a new animal is introduced into an already established territory, it is likely to be killed by the established residents. Moving animals can also impact genetics, disease and overpopulation in certain areas. Be aware that relocating any wild animal only creates a vacancy for more to move in. It is much safer for the animal and the environment to employ a degree of tolerance and to make the animals leave on their own.

The Circle of Life

Hawks eat rabbits. Snakes eat mice. Mountain lions eat deer. This is called balance. Do not try to interfere with natural predator/prey interactions. By saving the dove from the Peregrine falcon, you have interrupted the normal ecological balance. You may have saved the dove, but will the Peregrine survive?

What is the Solution?

The animals are attracted to your home because you are providing food, shelter and/or water. Remove the sources of attraction and the animals will leave. Close up the holes leading under the house or into the attic. Store dog and cat food inside the house. Cap the chimney. Turn off the fountain.

Please remember that during the spring, there may be young that are entirely dependent upon their parents for survival. Do not close off any potential entry points until you are sure there are no more animals in the den.

Enjoy the fact that wildlife have chosen to live with you.

© 2019