If a Wild Animal is on Your Property

Houston is home to a wide variety of wildlife due to the semi-tropical climate and natural surroundings. This can become an issue when animals decide to take up residence near people. BARC is committed to the humane treatment of animals, and advocates methods of keeping unwanted animals off property without killing and, in most cases, without relocating the animals. Trapping and relocating has not proven to be an effective method of control. Another animal simply moves in, and the original animal is faced with a very poor chance of survival in a new location. BARC believes the most effective means of reducing or eliminating animal problems is to address the cause; what attracted the animal to the area in the originally.

Animals, both wild and domesticated, are attracted to places where they can find the three requirements for survival:

  1. Food
  2. Water
  3. Shelter

Animals will move to a more suitable area if the requirements are not met. Residents of an area can make their property less attractive to an animal by using methods outlined below.

Remove all potential food sources from the property.
This would include pet food for the resident’s animals, meat scraps in compost, fallen fruit from trees, barbecue grills, excess bird food from birdfeeders and garbage. Garbage bags are very attractive to animals, so trash should be kept in containers with a secure lid, and put out in the morning of pick up to reduce the temptation for the animals. Excess food from birdfeeders that falls to the ground attracts rodents, which in turn attract predators. Coyotes have been known to eat birdseed as well. Cats should be kept indoors. It is safer for them, and it is the law in Houston. Small dogs should be out only in fenced yards, with owner supervision, walked on a leash, or in enclosed kennels with a roof.

Limit availability of water
Bring pet’s water bowls in when the pet is back inside (and please do not leave pets outdoors for extended periods of time in hot weather). Limit access to water features, pools and ponds with fencing. Remove or repair sources of standing water.

Remove or secure potential shelter areas
Secure access under houses, sheds, decks, porches and buildings with wire fencing. Open spaces beneath structures should be tightly screened with 1/4- or 1/3-inch galvanized hardware mesh. The bottom edge of the wire should be buried at least 6 inches deep, extended outward for 12 inches, so it forms an L shape, and then covered with soil, or heavy stones.Prevent access to chimneys by covering them with a spark arrester. These caps will keep animals and birds out of the chimney, but must be tightly secured to prevent raccoons from pulling them loose. Trees should be trimmed so that the branches that overhang roofs are at least 5 feet from the house. Bushes and shrubs need to be thinned and trimmed so that there is 18 inches of open space above the ground to limit the cover for animals to hide under.

Cats can be persuaded to stay away from a property by the previously mentioned methods, but also by a few tactics proven to be effective. Place chicken wire or plastic carpet runner, spikes up, under flower bed mulch to make scratching uncomfortable. Sprinkle coffee grounds or citrus peels or use citrus spray on gardens and shrubs. One very effective tool is a motion detection device combined with common water, available from various outlets. The cat or other animal breaks the beam of the device, and is immediately sprayed with a stream of water. This device works on raccoons, dogs, opossums and other animals, too. These methods, in conjunction with the Trap/Neuter/Return program, are the most humane and effective method for dealing with homeless or feral cats.

BARC does not respond to service requests for common wild animals found outside the living areas of homes, or for pest removal such as rodents or bat colony infestations. Contact a licensed pest control company in such cases. Injured or young animals and birds are best referred to Texas Parks and Wildlife licensed wildlife rehabilitators. BARC will respond to service requests where there is a possibility of a rabies exposure, a wild animal inside a living room or bedroom, or there is an animal in a humane trap that is considered a high risk for carrying rabies, such as skunks, foxes, coyotes or raccoons.

Please contact BARC at 311 or 713.229.7300 for questions and assistance.

BARC Information

3200 Carr Street,
Houston, TX 77026
Call 3-1-1 for more information

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