sealPurdue News

July 24, 2002

Wildlife uninvited summer guests around homes and campsites

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Summer means camping and cookouts, but these seasonal pastimes also can be an open invitation to some unwanted guests.

Wildlife, such as raccoons, are lured by the smells of food and grease that surround campsites, trash cans, dumpsters and grills around homes and commercial areas. But even though these animals seem attractive and approachable, they are best enjoyed at a distance, said a Purdue University wildlife expert.

"Raccoons are notorious for begging, but people should resist the urge to feed them," said Judy Loven, state director for the Purdue-based U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. "It is not good for the animals or people when folks get in the habit of approaching wildlife closely, because the raccoons can bite and spread disease."

A new Purdue Extension publication focuses on several wild animals, like the raccoon, squirrel and opossum, that are a nuisance for homeowners. "Conflicts with Wildlife Around the Home" gives helpful ways to manage and control your wild neighbors.

A free copy of the publication is available by calling1-888-EXT-INFO and asking for publication number PPP-56. The publication also can be accessed online.

"The publication provides science-based information and legal alternatives so homeowners can make environmentally sound decisions about controlling wildlife and preventing damage in the future," Loven said. "It is a great resource that includes information from private, state and federal partners."

Loven, Purdue Extension wildlife specialist Brian MacGowan and Purdue Pesticide Programs coordinator Fred Whitford partnered with county educators and private industries to develop this publication.

The best and least expensive way to keep wild animals out of the home is to repair access routes where they can enter, Loven said. Long-term solutions, such as installing an animal-proof chimney cap, repairing a damaged roof or blocking access to vents and holes, are more cost-effective in the long run than using cage traps and repellents when wildlife problems arise. Traps and sprays can be used as a short-term response to a problem.

Before starting repairs, homeowners should check to see if any wildlife is trapped in chimneys or holes. In order to avoid the nesting season, fall is the optimal time to fix areas where wildlife can enter the home, Loven said.

If homeowners catch raccoons in the act of stealing food, Loven said there should be minimal interaction with the animal, and the food should not be retrieved. Raccoons are considered nocturnal; however, they have become comfortable around people and are out during the day.

To discourage troublesome wildlife, Loven suggests using a leaf blower. Animals do not like the unpleasant wind and sound, and it is safer than a more aggressive confrontation. If a leaf blower does not work, homeowners can try spraying the animal with a high-pressure garden hose.

For more information about controlling wildlife around the home or managing wildlife conflict, contact the Indiana Wildlife Conflicts Information Hotline at 1-800-893-4116 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information also can be accessed on the Web.

Writer: Jennifer Doup, (765) 494-6682,

Source: Judy Loven, (765) 494-6229,

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722; Beth Forbes,;

Related Web site:
U. S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Health Service Wildlife Services

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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