10 ways to keep animals at bay

By Heather MacMullinHeather MacMullin

keep animals at bay

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We all go to the cottage, eagerly anticipating the escape to nature, but sometimes the wildlife—mice, raccoons, bears, and deer, to name a few—can be trying for even the most stalwart cottager. Here are some simple tips that will allow you and the wildlife to enjoy cottage country, without unnecessary conflict.

1. Manage your garbage properly

Tightly sealed containers, stored away from the cottage, will discourage animals and keep persistent ones far from your door. Regular disposal will further decrease break-ins.

2. Minimize compost odours

If it’s not a vegetable or eggshell, it will stink up your compost and attract the wildlife in your area. Also, plastic bins with tight lids contain the smell well, and deter even the clever beasts.

3. Pick a good spot for wood storage

Mice love them, so be sure to keep woodpiles away from the cottage and any sheltering vegetation. Since mice usually stay inside a nine by nine metre home turf, they could invade the cottage if you store the stack too close.

4. Clean the BBQ grill

Cleaning the grill after every use, and storing it before heading back to the city, will help deter an unwelcome visit from a hungry bear.

5. Avoid excess birdseed

Birdseed is a favourite of mice—so be careful to keep the area around your feeder tidy. Seeds also attract squirrels and bears, so you may want to keep the feeder in storage during warmer months.

6. Keep pet food dishes inside

Leaving your pet’s bowls outdoors will attract animals after little Fido’s dinner. If it’s a tough berry season, even a bear may swing by for a snack.

7. Fence the vegetable garden

High fences are necessary to keep deer away from your produce, since they’re excellent jumpers. If you have deer munching elsewhere on the property, scatter some human hair in problem areas, or install a motion-activated sprinkler as a 24-hour deer-scarer.

8. Sabotage potential raccoon dens

Put carpentry off-cuts in any place raccoons might like to sleep (such as under the deck) to create sharp and uneven surfaces. The raccoons will likely move on, looking for more comfortable sleeping arrangements.

9. Discourage beavers

Loosely wrap chicken wire, hardware cloth, or sheet metal around the tree bases. Once the beavers leave, you can take it down.

10. Prevent squirrels from nesting

Nesting occurs from late winter to early spring, and mid-summer to early fall. Deter squirrels from nesting inside the cottage by pruning branches that hang over the roof. Once you’ve determined there are no squirrels claiming squatter’s rights, put up a quality chimney cap, and reinforce roof vents with metal screening to prevent indoor access.

This article was originally published on April 5, 2009

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Heather MacMullin