Protect Your Home and Wildlife

Living in Harmony

Published on June 2nd, 2022

Protect Your Home and Wildlife featured image

Did you know that pesticides from lawns can eventually wash into rivers and lakes to kill fish? Or that rat poison can work its way up the food chain?  What we do around our homes can have unexpected outcomes far beyond our fences. Fortunately, there are simple ways that we can maintain our homes while being kind to wildlife.

Alexander Donald is a Director of the Ontario Wildlife Rescue (, a non-profit organization that rehabilitates injured or orphaned wild animals including birds, rabbits, and deer. Many of the animals at this facility were found in distress on residential properties. 

Donald offers suggestions on how homeowners can maintain their property while also protecting wildlife.

Attics and Decks

Raccoons and squirrels like to make their nests in dry places such as an attic or under a deck. When people call in exterminators, they may only relocate the mother. Donald estimates that at least 15 percent of the animals at the Ontario Wildlife Rescue are there because someone captured or killed the mother.

You can save money and protect the young ones by encouraging the mother to move the nest. Donald offers three methods: 

  1. Put a radio near the nest and turn on a talk radio station.  
  2. Place a rag soaked in Pine Sol (original version not perfumed) near the nest. It has a sharp odor that raccoons, squirrels and even skunks find offensive. 
  3. Put an LED light near the nest and keep it turned on.


“In the spring, before mowing the grass, check for rabbit nests. Rabbits can literally make their nests in the middle of lawns. A nest can be so well camouflaged that you can stand next to it and not even notice it’s there.”

The chemicals that people use on their lawns and gardens pose a direct risk to rabbits, birds, groundhogs, and deer. Also, when those chemicals wash into streams, rivers, and lakes, they may harm fish and the quality of our drinking water. 

Sometimes chemicals are used for years before their full impact is understood. Donald points out that DDT was an insecticide that nearly wiped-out bald eagles in Canada. 

He recommends that homeowners look for the safest options to fertilize and control pests and weeds. Also, choose plants that are native to your area. 


“If you have a cat, don’t let it out to run around in the yard,” says Donald. “Cats are responsible for injuring and killing more birds than any other pet. They are predators by nature. A lot of songbirds and rabbits that end up in rescue centres are there because a cat went after them.”

Attach a bell to your pet’s collar to alert wildlife. 


If you plan to install a pool or dig a foundation for a garage, etc. make a commotion to scare ground dwellers such as rabbits and marmots, then give them time to leave the area. Many of them will have two exits from their dens.


Birds fly into windows when they are startled, or when they see their own reflection then attack the perceived threat. 

To make your windows more visible and to break up reflections, use curtains, blinds, tape, or stickers. An attractive, energy-saving option is transparent film; while the view from the inside remains clear, from the outside, the window takes on a metallic or opaque sheen. 

Rodent Intruders

Rats and other rodents enter our homes to find warm, dry spaces with easy access to food, but they often they cause damage and spread disease.

To discourage these pests, patch up any holes in the building envelope, store food in containers, use garbage cans with secure lids, and cover the bottom of your compost bin with wire mesh. 

If you must use traps, Donald recommends using an old-fashioned, spring-loaded trap baited with cheese or peanut butter. 

General Safety

Wildlife is all around us, even in our urban environments. Some species such as raccoons and coyotes are nocturnal so we may not be aware of their presence. However, the animals are aware of humans and in some cases, they have come to rely on us. 

“Coyotes and foxes don’t attack people unless they are cornered and have become habituated to people. Don’t feed them including leaving out garbage or pet food.”


If you encounter an injured or orphaned wild animal, contact your local rescue, and find instructions for safe handling, feeding, etc. on the Ontario Wildlife Rescue website ( 

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