Florida is home to a diverse ecosystem of wildlife that flourishes at this time of year. It’s a beautiful sight to behold — from a distance.
From birds, to bears, to alligators, to raccoons, virtually every genus in the animal kingdom is present in the state during summer time. This is both a blessing and a curse for local homeowners, who both celebrate the local wildlife, but dread it wreaking havoc on their homes.
Although wild animal attacks are considerably rare, they do happen. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has recorded 410 alligator attacks since 1948, 25 of which were fatal. Black bear sightings are common in the state, with Florida having its own subspecies of black bear, but no known attacks have been recorded to date.
Coyotes are also commonly found in residential areas, and if gone unchecked they can attack livestock and pets.
For all homeowners, especially those unfamiliar with the area and the wildlife inhabiting it, it’s important to be conscious of the animals living around you and how to coexist with them in order to protect yourself, your pets, and your family.
Secure Waste Disposal Bins
As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure — or in this case, a feast for your local wildlife.
Your garbage can, compost, and recycling bin are all ripe with pickings for neighborhood raccoons, opossums, and even bears. Some animals can smell food scraps from far away and will sometimes travel long distances for a meal if they’re hungry enough.
To avoid unwanted guests visiting your property, make sure to store all food waste and garbage in a securely sealed container. If your local wildlife proves particularly tenacious, you can try investing in a wildlife-resistant garbage can.
Keep Bird & Wildlife Feeders High Up
Bird feeders are a great addition to any home’s exterior, but if you keep them hanging close to the ground, you may want to reconsider.
When hanging close to the ground, bird feeders are accessible to other wildlife such as squirrels, raccoons, and bears. Additionally, in this position the feeders have a tendency to drop more seed to the ground, which attracts various rodents, in turn attracting larger predators to the area.
Be sure to hang your bird feeders at least 10 feet high, and at least four feet away from any attachment points. Make sure you consistently clean up any spillage so as not to attract other wildlife.
Fence-Off Natural Food Sources
Growing your own fruits and vegetables at home is a fantastic skill, and a relaxing and healthy way to spend your free time. Although you worked hard to reap the benefits of your horticultural hobby, your local wildlife will undoubtedly try to dine for free!
Even if you haven’t planted anything yourself, any plant that bears nuts, berries, or seeds will attract a variety of animals to your property. Fruits and vegetables, once ripe, should be harvested immediately, along with any other source of food.
It’s a good idea to erect some type of fencing around your food-bearing plants. You can purchase inexpensive chicken wire and plant stakes for this purpose. If you have a persistent problem with bears or other large predators on your property, you may want to consider more expensive electric fencing.
Keep Pets Under Supervision
We all love our pets, and we want to keep them safe. That’s why it’s important to consider all the dangers of the outside world when deciding whether or not to let your pet out on their own, including local wildlife.
The everyday dangers facing pets include speeding motor vehicles, diseases, and other domestic animals, so factoring in the myriad of predators they would likely cross paths with in the great outdoors would spell a short life for our furry friends.
Keep your pets indoors while unsupervised, especially at night. Keep an eye on your pets while they’re playing or lounging in your backyard. Feed your pets inside and never leave any food unattended outside. If you feed your pets outside, don’t chain them up while they’re eating. If an aggressive animal approaches them, they’ll have a harder time getting away if they’re restricted.
Electric Fencing for Livestock
If you keep livestock on your property, either for company or food, it’s important to protect it from local wildlife. Chickens, cows, goats, and other livestock are susceptible to attacks from coyotes, bears, foxes, and other predators.
Depending on the type of livestock and the species of predatory pest giving you trouble, a secure enclosure may be an adequate solution. You can build something inexpensive yourself, or purchase an enclosure from a manufacturer.
If your livestock is larger, or you are dealing with something more serious, you may want to consider installing electric fencing. This would both protect your livestock by preventing predatory animals from entering the enclosure, as well as keeping your animals from straying away.
Home & Yard
We mentioned before that some animals can smell food from miles away. Well, that includes food waste such as wrappers and crumbs. Be sure to dispose of any used food items and clean up any messes left outdoors.
Your vehicle is susceptible to wildlife break-ins, a little-known fact to many homeowners. Never leave behind any snacks or food waste in your car, and thoroughly clean up any messes after eating in your car.
If you grill outside, never leave the grill unattended, and clean it out afterwards with soap and water. If you can, store it in a garage or a sturdy shed. Don’t leave any food or food waste in any screened-in areas, and be sure to close exterior doors when they’re not in use.
We hope this week’s blog has helped you learn some new strategies to protect your home against pesky predators and invasive wildlife. Until next time, we wish you the best.