Living with Wildlife in the Garden

Great Blue Heron

“All of my seedlings have been chewed off at ground level!” “Gophers are eating all of my lettuce!” Every year gardners lament damage to vegetables by small mammals and some birds. And each summer thousands of gardners turn to poisons and lethal traps. In the Eastern Sierra, we are fortunate to live close to the beauty and wildness of nature. Wild birds, mammals and reptiles share our neighborhoods with us. Be aware that there are animal control solutions for the garden that are humane, non-lethal, more effective, simple and inexpensive.

Remember that in creating your backyard garden, you also create an attractive habitat for many small animals by providing food (in the form of vegetables, fruits and insects), water, hiding cover from predators, and shelter (places to burrow and raise young). If you can, use good habitat management practices when starting your garden. These will make your garden less attractive and accessible to unwelcome visitors. Then, if animal problems do arise, you can progress to successful non-lethal practices such as exclusion, scare devices and repellents.

Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care encourages and counsels people to prevent conflicts that can develop when wildlife visits your garden. We offer ways to avoid or minimize problems and to help resolve conflicts if they arise.

The following pages provide specific strategies that can be used to resolve human-wildlife conflicts in the garden without resorting to lethal means. In this short newsletter we focus on the following small mammals: moles, pocket gophers, ground squirrels, voles and rabbits. For more information, contact us at Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care

Simple tips to get started:

1. Determine which species are eating from or digging in the garden.
2. Use habitat management practices to create less than favorable conditions for foraging and burrowing animals.
3. If possible, place exclusion infrastructure (buried hardware cloth, fences) prior to planting.
4. Choose and employ techniques for specific problem species – exclusion, repellents, scare devices.
5. Encourage natural predators, especially owls and hawks.
6. Live trap only as a last resort