Living With Wildlife
Wildlife Resource Center
Further questions? Visit Wildlife Illinois.
Also check out our Living With Wildlife brochures.
Animals in our Neighborhoods
Landscaped back yards with trees and shrubs, houses with decks, porches, attics, and chimneys as well as urban green spaces with ponds, fields, and wetlands have created ideal habitats for wildlife. It is not uncommon to find higher densities of certain species (like raccoons) in urban areas as opposed to rural areas.
The following guidelines can help our human and wild animal populations coexist:
Restrict their Food Sources - Anything edible left unattended is an attractant to critters. Bird feeders by day, also attract raccoons, mice and voles by night. Place trash in a can with a tight fitting lid, stored in a garage or shed to prevent access. Garbage in bags should be put out the morning of garbage day, not the night before. Pet food should be available only when the pet is present. Remove fallen fruit from yard. Never intentionally feed wild mammals. It is actually illegal to feed deer in Illinois.
Secure Possible Entry Points/Repair Holes - To prevent the possibility of wildlife utilizing your home as theirs, all outside holes must be covered with ¼″ heavy gauge wire (on vents) or aluminum flashing to prevent entry. Fan vents, dryer vents, and chimneys, all possible entry points, need to be secured. Check under the shingles by the gutters for possible gaps and cover them with wire. If water has rotted wooden boards, replace them. All holes larger than ¼″ need to be sealed to keep critters out.
Use Deterrents - Long streamers work as deterrents to frighten woodpeckers away; Spread ammonia soaked rags or sprinkle hot pepper juice with a few drops of dish soap and spray the problem areas; Keep chimney damper closed; Use bright lights and loud radios in attics.
Finding an Injured Animal
If you come across an animal you believe needs help, the first question to ask is: “Is this animal sick or injured?” The following are signs of illness or injury: blood, torn skin, missing fur, exposed bone, a limb or wing not working correctly (dragging, drooping, being held at a funny angle), unable to stand, continually falling over, and acting lethargic (lying still even when approached by a human, not opening eyes, can’t lift head). As long as the animal is exhibiting normal behaviors, leave it be.
Contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator - If you find a sick or injured wild animal contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. If it is safe to do so, the animal can be placed into a container (cardboard box, paper bag with the top folded over, garbage can with lid, pet carrier, etc.) and kept in a dark, quiet place until a rehabilitator is reached. Do not offer it any food or water.
Discovering Baby Animals
Spring and summer months often bring baby animals into our yards or even our homes. While your first thought might be that it is orphaned, it is important to remember that some animals leave their babies for parts of the day in order to avoid attracting predators to them. Visit our page about discovering baby animals below for more information.
Discovering a Baby Animal
Relocation of Wildlife
First understand that the relocation of a “nuisance” animal to a “more suitable” habitat is not truly humane. Taking a raccoon from the familiar streets of a subdivision and putting him in the woods, is not doing him any favors. He has no home nor knowledge of food or water supplies. Often times if an individual animal is removed, chances are another animal will move in to claim the now vacated territory. Exclusion and deterrents are better solutions for dealing with nuisance wildlife.
Please note: Wildlife trapping requires a special trapping permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Regulations exist as to what can be done with the animal once you trap it. For example, it is illegal to relocate a raccoon off your property. Also, animals cannot be released on private or public properties without the land owner’s permission. Contact your local IDNR office for more information.
Chimney swifts (small black birds) have adapted quite readily to nesting in chimneys. They do no damage to the chimney but use it as a nesting and roosting site. The chattering noise is the nestlings begging for food. The adults arrive in the spring, build their nest using their saliva to glue the twigs to the inside wall of the chimney, lay the eggs, incubate them (about 20 days), feed the young for about 30 days, and then everyone migrates south in the fall. Before they leave on migration, they continue to use the chimney as a roost. They feed exclusively on insects, which they capture during the day. The easiest solution is to wait until they leave the chimney on their own during migration in late September/October, then have your chimney professionally cleaned and capped.
Raccoons occasionally nest in chimneys. Keep the damper closed. To get mom to move her babies elsewhere, place a radio in the fireplace and in the evening turn it on loud. Once she has vacated the area, cap the chimney.
Occasionally squirrels and birds fall down chimneys and are unable to climb back out. Dropping a thick rope down the chimney allows a trapped mammal to climb out. Birds on the other hand usually have to come out through the fireplace.