Aspen Valley’s Tips On How To “Wildlife Proof” Your Property

How to secure your property against wild animals
Photo courtesy of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

As summer draws to a close and temperatures begin to drop, it’s no surprise that wildlife is looking for a comfortable place to spend the cold winter months. Deer mice leave their mark in the early days and we brace ourselves for the possibility that other wild animals, perhaps larger ones, might invade our homes or cabins.

The good news is that you can significantly reduce the likelihood of wild animals taking shelter in your home or cabin and we would like to offer a handful of suggestions to help you on your journey to “wildlife sheltering” your property.

Step 1. Remove access to food sources

  • Ensure all trash bags are tightly closed and placed in a secure trash can. Also, don’t forget to clean your rubbish bins regularly to prevent pets from being attracted by the smell of household rubbish.
  • Keep your kitchen and all areas of your home free of crumbs and spills.
  • Feed pets inside and store pet food in reptile-proof containers.
  • Keep your garden free of fallen fruit, pine cones and acorns that wild animals may look to as a food source.
  • If you decide to get a bird feeder during the winter months, place it well away from your home and clean up spills regularly.
  • And don’t forget to protect your outdoor living space – clean and cover grills and bring in outdoor cushions so it doesn’t become a cozy nest.
Squirrel Babies. Photo courtesy of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

Step 2. Seal entry points – big and small

  • Install chimney and vent covers.
  • Seal off the entrances to the spaces under your porch, deck step, or shed with chicken wire that anchors to the ground.
  • Check your roof for holes and regularly clean the soffit and drainage system, including eaves.
  • Check windows and doors for cracks and holes that could allow animals in.
  • Install window well screens to protect your basement windows.
  • Check and repair cracks and holes in your home’s siding and foundation. This is not only a problem for basement flooding, but also an entrance for mice.
  • Also keep all the plants around your house trimmed. Animals seeking shelter can use tree branches, shrubs, and vines to gain access to vulnerable parts of your home.

Understandably, finding every nook and cranny can be a challenge. It is well known that mice and squirrels will squeeze through the most absurd cracks. And yet there’s no denying that once you eliminate the snacks and close the gates, your home will be a lot less appealing.

Importantly, late fall is the best time to seal spawn points. While most babies leave their nests in late August, it’s not uncommon for squirrels to be born in September. However, if you are preparing to seal a hole, please first check that there are no animals inside. If you’re unsure, just crumple up a paper towel and place it in the entryway. If it’s pushed out, chances are you have a visitor and you can ask someone for help.

The Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary is happy to share tips on how to encourage wild animals to leave your home by making it less hospitable to them. That said, patience is a prerequisite. If you are not willing to host a squirrel or raccoon family, even for a short time, we urge you to take a humane option.

baby raccoon. Photo courtesy of Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary

While many organizations claim to “humanely” capture and remove animals from your home, this does not guarantee the humane treatment of those animals once they have been removed from your property. The best companies are those that treat all animals with the utmost respect, regardless of the species or the company’s bottom line. Not only do such companies humanely remove animals, they have experience reuniting mothers with their babies by allowing the mothers to place the young in secondary dens. A reputable company will also help you keep all living things out by repairing entry holes and securing other potential wildlife entry points.

A word to the wise. Never use rodenticides! The intended victim will suffer a slow and painful death, and there is also a good chance that in this weakened state they will be eaten by a predator such as a fox or owl, who will suffer the same fate. It’s also common for these lethal mixes to be misinterpreted as tasty treats by birds and other mammals (including your pets) that you didn’t mean to harm. We also ask that you never use sticky traps. These are barbaric, to say the least.

Submitted by Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary. Visit to learn more and discover the many ways to help wildlife in Muskoka.

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