Managing Wildlife Conflicts and Habitats

Learning to live with our wild neighbors

Whether living in rural farmland, suburban neighborhoods, or urban environments, expanding human activity is increasingly bringing people into potential conflict with wild animals.

A Virginia Opossum walks along the top of a wooden fence.

People have varied reactions in the ways they experience sharing the world with our wild neighbors. While many people want to create backyard habitats for wildlife, others are concerned about minimizing conflict with potential “nuisance” neighbors. Learning to live and co-exist with wildlife is increasingly important as human and wildlife habitats intersect. 

Preventing Wildlife Conflicts

When homeowners and wildlife are neighbors, the potential for conflicts arises. Learn how to co-exist with the wild animals near your home – prevention is key! The following pages provide helpful advice on minimizing nuisance and conflict with wild neighbors.

“Nature is not a catalog. You don’t get to choose the animals that you will see and won’t see in your yard.” — Ed Clark

Trapping and Relocation is Not the Answer!

Many people ask about trapping and relocating nuisance wildlife. While it may seem effective and humane to move the problematic animal elsewhere, it’s not a good solution, for several reasons.

It Doesn’t Work

Relocating an animal that raids the garden or trash, or that dens under the shed or in the attic, doesn’t actually solve the problem. While relocating an animal might get rid of that individual, another animal will simply move into the vacated territory, and soon, they will be raiding the garden, getting in the trash, and/or denning under the shed. Taking the time to make the area less hospitable to solve and prevent conflicts will have a more successful long-term outcome.

It’s Inhumane

While it may seem “nice” to take an animal to a better place, studies have shown that many relocated animals do quite poorly and don’t survive. Animals depend on knowing where to get important resources in their home habitats, and when they are moved, they have difficulty finding food, water, shelter, and safety. Relocating animals to new environments can also introduce diseases to the animal, or to the residents where the animal is relocated.

It’s Illegal

In Virginia and many other states, it’s illegal to trap animals and move them off of your property. Licensed trappers who hold a Commercial Nuisance Animal Permit may trap wildlife and release them at the edge of a homeowner’s property, or may humanely euthanize the wild animals. These trappers cannot relocate wildlife. The Humane Society of the United States has additional information for those who are looking to choose a humane, effective wildlife control company.

Backyard Wildlife Habitat

There are many things you can do to your backyard to make it more friendly for your wild neighbors. By providing shelter, food, and water sources, you can attract and sustain a wide variety of wildlife.

Below are links to resources for building and maintaining features that you can add to your backyard habitat!

Backyard Brush Pile
Nest Boxes
Rock Piles
Plant Lists

Additional Online Resources

The following organizations all have great ideas for making your backyard more wildlife-friendly. Creating shelter, planting native plants, supplying natural foods, and providing water sources are all actions that you can take to help mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates survive and thrive!