Human-Wildlife Conflicts

Every year, animals search for food, shelter, and places to rear their young. During these times of activity, the potential for conflicts between humans and wildlife increases. While many people are thrilled to see wildlife in their neighborhoods, not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea of sharing their property with them.

Why do conflicts occur?

When wild animals find food, water, and shelter (essentials for their survival) in and around our homes, they often try to remain in the area. However, wildlife taking up residence near our homes and businesses can be stressful (and expensive!). Wild animals involved in these types of situations are often referred to as “nuisance” wildlife.

Out of frustration, people sometimes react to the presence of nuisance wildlife with short-term, quick-fix control methods such as trapping, relocating, or killing the animal. However, the removal of one nuisance animal is not an effective solution, for a few reasons:

  • It does not prevent further conflicts with other individuals. Some species, such as the Coyote, will respond to a decrease in their population levels by increasing their reproductive rates. 
  • This kind of removal does not prevent conflicts with other individuals in the future. In nearly all cases, continually killing off animals is not the solution to the problem. Inevitably, we find that these problems will recur until the source of the problem has been addressed.

How can these conflicts be addressed effectively?

Animals who find food, water, and shelter will be tempted to remain in the area. So, the best thing we can do is remove these attractants! Many humane options offer long-term solutions to the problems associated with nuisance wildlife. The following ideas will help you peacefully coexist with the wildlife in your neighborhood:

  • Stop feeding wildlife (either on purpose or by accident)
    • Keep garbage in sturdy containers with secure lids. Thoroughly rinse bottles and cans for recycling, and put compost in closed bins instead of in an open compost pile
    • Avoid feeding your pets outside. If you must, feed them outside during the day and take food and water bowls inside during the night
    • To protect livestock and poultry from predators, enclose them in predator-proof barns or pens during the night. Electric fences, guardian animals, and scare devices have also proven to be effective in deterring predators.

Remove or restrict access to shelter:

  • Animals can squeeze into small spaces in their search for shelter, so thoroughly check for holes and cracks in and around the foundation of your home
  • Check under the eaves and in the attic for openings, and cover any holes with suitable material, such as hardware cloth
  • Prevent entry through chimneys and vents by covering these openings with hardware cloth
    • Note: Make sure that you are not trapping any animals inside before you cover these openings
  • Remove brush piles from your yard, store wood off the ground, and keep trees and brush pruned away from the house
  • If you have a dog or cat door, keep it closed and secured at night to prevent wild animals from coming inside

What help is available?

Agriculture & Wildlife Protection Program (AWPP) – This program encourages the proactive use of non-lethal animal damage deterrents in an effort to foster the coexistence of agriculture and wildlife in Benton County. The AWPP’s primary goals are to:

  • Provide grants and resources to help farmers protect livestock, crops and property while coexisting with wildlife
  • Encourage the proactive use of non-lethal animal deterrents to prevent conflicts with wildlife
  • Educate farmers and the community about wildlife conflicts and non-lethal methods to avoid conflicts
  • Build a collaborative relationship between the farming and wildlife conservation communities and Benton County government around common goals
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