Living with Wildlife

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One of the best ways to help wild animals and keep them safe, healthy, and happy is to keep them wild. We can help keep them wild by doing the following things:



Please do not attempt to raise or keep wild animals. When young, wild animals have specific dietary needs and can face developmental problems if these needs are not met.

In addition, young animals need to be raised with their own kind in order to learn the skills they will need to find food and mates, and avoid predators once they are released into the wild. Adult birds can damage their feathers in cages and can face serious health problems as a result of captivity-related stress.

Mammals and reptiles can pose an unexpected danger to humans and can carry human-transmissible diseases and parasites. Wild animals never make good pets, and in California, it is illegal to house wild animals without the proper permits.


Wild animals are attracted to easy, consistent sources of food and shelter, and we often invite nuisance wildlife into our yards without realizing it by providing access to these resources.

Remove easy sources of food to discourage nuisance animals. Remove any pet food, ripe fruit or vegetables that are on the ground, and securely cover compost piles, dirty barbecue grills, trash cans, and recycle bins.

Store food indoors, or in animal-proof containers. Make sure to close pet doors and windows at night so wild animals cannot get inside.

Make bird feeders inaccessible to squirrels and raccoons by wrapping a metal sheet into a cone shape and securing it to the feeder pole.


Keep cats indoors

Cats can be wonderful, loving companion animals. However, cats are also invasive predators, and cats that spend time outdoors regularly injure and kill wild animals.

Even cats that are fed by humans hunt and play with wild animals, and even when prey are not killed right away, they often die when their teeth- and claw-wounds become infected.

Collars with bells can help wild animals to avoid cats, but cats are deft hunters, and often learn to move quietly despite having bells on their collars.

Keep bird feeders clean

It is important to keep your bird feeders and water baths clean and free of disease. Bird feeders and water baths should be scrubbed clean at least once a week and each time they are refilled. After regular cleaning, disinfect feeders and baths with a ten-percent solution of bleach water and allow them to air dry before refilling.

Since wood objects cannot be disinfected properly, it is best to provide metal or plastic feeders and baths.

Finally, make sure you store excess seed in a secure, airtight container, as insects and rodents can feed on and contaminate the seed.

Make windows safe

There are a number of ways to help prevent birds from striking your windows. First, you can make the window appear as a wall/solid object by closing drapes or blinds on the inside of the windows, or by applying stickers or strips of paper to the windows. Some glass manufacturers design etched window panes, which may also help make glass visible to birds.

Second, you can prevent birds from hitting the window by hanging the screen from eaves about a foot away from the window, so that birds that fly towards the glass will bounce off the screen without hitting the window. However, be sure to hang the screen such that birds and other animals cannot get caught.

Prune trees and shrubs between October and December

In temperate areas of the United States, including the central valley, animals begin nesting in January and end in late August. So, the safest time to trim trees and shrubs is between October and December. When you prune trees and shrubs (even between October and December), carefully check for nests and be sure any animals (especially babies) are gone before you prune.

Take fishing lines and hooks with you

Birds, mammals, and turtles can be seriously injured and die from becoming ensnared in or swallowing fishing line or hooks. When you leave your fishing site, take fishing lines and hooks with you, and if you see fishing line on shores or in the water, please pick them up and discard them safely in the trash.

Do not use poisons or sticky traps

Poisons and sticky traps are not humane solutions to nuisance animals or infestations, and they frequently harm animals other than those that are targeted.

Poison ingested by animals harms predators (including hawks, cats, and dogs) that consume those poisoned animals. Poisoning results in a slow and painful death. Likewise, sticky traps result in broken bones and destroyed feathers, skin, and scales.

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