About Local Wildlife
In New Jersey, we share space with a number of commonly seen animals—squirrels, deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks, opossums, woodchucks, turtles, snakes, hawks, owls, geese, and songbirds—as well as other, sometimes more obscure animals such as flying squirrels, bats, foxes, coyotes, black bears, and beavers.
Many people enjoy seeing these creatures in their yards and parks, but sometimes these animals get a little too close for comfort (such as when they take up residence inside a home). There are ways for humans and animals to coexist peacefully.
Here are links to fact sheets you can download and/or print:
Put Wildlife to Work For You
Did you know that the insects you use pesticides to eliminate are actually savored by many of our local wildlife? For example, aphids are favorites of songbirds and grubs are like snacks to skunks. Amazingly, a single bat can consume more than 3,000 mosquitoes each night. Put wildlife to work for you!
Please try to avoid using herbicides or pesticides on your lawn or in your garden. Not only can these products be dangerous to you, your children, and your pets, but they can also poison wildlife or interfere with their reproduction. Pesticides affect more than just the creatures they are intended to target. The insects that pesticides target are eaten by birds, which in turn are eaten by larger birds and some mammals.
Consider using organic fertilizers such as compost, ground leaf litter, and seaweed. These alternatives are not only safer for humans, pets, and wildlife but are also better for the environment.
Give Wildlife a Helping Hand
Here are some other ways to make your yard "wildlife-friendly".
- Keep your cats inside. Cats that are permitted to roam freely outside do affect the songbird population. We receive many, many animals at the Center who have been caught by cats. Unfortunately, over 80 percent of them die as a result. Please keep your cats indoors. . For more information on this topic, please visit the American Bird Conservancy. In addition to preventing injury to wildlife, indoor cats are also spared the perils of outdoor living, such as possible poisoning, car impact, and altercations with other animals.
Cat Facts [PDF 138k].
- Feed the birds. Put up bird feeders and bird baths and plant trees and shrubs that produce food for the birds throughout the year. For more information about making your backyard a wildlife habitat, visit the National Wildlife Federation web site.
- Keep feeders and bird baths clean. Clean bird feeders regularly (every few weeks) with a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Clean bird baths more often (about twice a week) using the same solution mix. This helps prevent birds who visit your yard from passing contagious diseases to one another.
- Time tree pruning carefully. Most tree-nesting animal species begin building their nests and having young in early spring. If you need to prune or remove trees in your yard, try to schedule this work for late summer or autumn to make sure young animals have left their nests.
Discard plastics and other dangerous items carefully. Animals can injure themselves when they get caught in fishing line, balloons, and even in the plastic rings that hold beverage six-packs together. Be sure to destroy these items with scissors and dispose of them carefully.
Prevent Wildlife from "Moving In"...
You may enjoy watching songbirds eat berries and seeds in your yard, but the very thought of a mammal taking up residence in your house may not thrill you. We do not blame you! Wild animals can be noisy, messy, and destructive when they attempt to share living quarters with humans.
Here are some ways to prevent them from getting too close.
- Install chimney caps. Installing chimney caps, on furnace chimneys as well as fireplace chimneys, will help prevent animals from getting into your house by climbing or falling down your chimney.
- Secure trash cans. Many animals are attracted to household trash, including raccoons, skunks, opossums, and black bears. Keep your trash in a closed garage until trash day or use a sturdy container with a secure lid. Bunjee cords make excellent lid secure!
- Do not feed pets outside. Pet food is even more attractive to some wildlife than trash! If you must feed your pets outside, be sure to remove the bowls as soon as your pets are finished eating, or at least before dusk.
- Seal holes and cracks in and around the foundation and along the roofline of your house. Animals can squeeze into small spaces!
- Prune branches near your house. Branches that hang over your house are easy routes to the roof and windows of your house. Prune branches that are close to or touching your house.
Read more about preventing wildlife problems around your home here, Coexisting with Wildlife.
...And Help Them Move Along If They Do
If wild animals have taken up residence in or under your house, wait until they have vacated and then take steps to make sure they do not return. Assume young are present in the spring, summer, and early fall. Be careful not to separate the parents from the young. Be patient—the family will move out on their own when the young are old enough to do so.