As human expansion has consumed or fragmented so much natural habitat, we occasionally may find ourselves a little closer to some of our animal neighbors than we might wish. A few precautions, and some common sense, can help keep the relationship between humans and wild animals a peaceful one.
The following suggestions apply to most of the wildlife in Riverwoods, including deer, coyote, foxes, beavers, raccoons, opossums, woodchucks, rabbits, squirrels, voles, chipmunks, mice, birds, and amphibians:
- NEVER LEAVE A SMALL PET CHAINED OR TIED OUTDOORS when you are not able to supervise. Turn lights on or make or make noise when letting a pet out at night.
- With the exception of bird feeding, never feed wild animals or make food available near your house. This will cause food to be associated with humans and could mean a bad result for both the animals and us.
- Avoid the nocturnal scavenging by raccoons and opossums, among others, by putting all food garbage inside cans and keeping it indoors until the morning of pickup.
- Never handle a wild animal. Even the cutest young animal can have sharp teeth or harbor serious diseases, like rabies or distemper.
- Do not assume that an unattended young animal, such as a fawn without its mother, is an orphan. Deer and other creatures often leave their babies in a safe place while they forage for food, and then return to the place where they left their offspring. Although your scent will not cause the mother to abandon its newborn, human scent may alert predators.
- Prevent animals from entering your home by using screens on chimneys and vents. Check the screens regularly. Trim back overhanging branches that lead to your roof, and repair any holes in damaged wood or under porches sooner rather than later.
- If you find yourself with an uninvited house guest, such as a raccoon or squirrel that has come down the chimney, or a bird that has flown through a vent, you may be able to avoid a confrontation by simply closing all doors and windows except one, dimming interior lights, and allowing the creature to make its way outside through a nearby open door or window.
- If an entire family appears to have made itself comfortable in your attic, shed or eaves, you may find that they leave the same way they came in as soon as young have been born and become independent. A mother robin and her offspring may cause a little inconvenience, but a family of raccoons in your attic or chimney is more problematic. Try encouraging them to evacuate by making the area uncomfortably bright and noisy. Lights, flashlights, and a continuously playing radio may prove useful. However, lighting a fire or fireworks to evict the animals from you chimney could result in dead offspring or adults stuck in your chimney, thereby making a bad situation even worse. Very difficult cases will benefit from professional wildlife relocators.