Deer grazing in your backyard can be a most satisfying sight, unless they ravage your newly-planted tulips or treat your vegetables as an all-you-can-eat buffet. Raccoons may be cute and fluffy creatures always looking to play and cuddle, but they suddenly turn into an unwelcomed guest when they start rummaging through your trash cans at night. The same goes for chirping birds, shiny-eyed squirrels, and those adorable chipmunks always stuffing food into their mouths – they’re a welcome sight until they start ravaging your backyard, trampling your flowers, and even endangering your health. Below is a short description of the garden damage caused by five most common wildlife pest species in Canada:
Raccoons top the list of wildlife that wreak havoc in flower and vegetable gardens across North America. The second favorite occupation is rummaging through trash bins and cans or raiding bird feeders – all in search of food. They are probably the least picky of all animals who will ever trespass in your garden, eating everything from fish, fruit, grains and nuts to small mammals and garbage. They are smart creatures who will not be deterred by a locked door at the chicken coop or a tight-fitting jar – their dexterity and intelligence allows them to open doors, jars, bottles, etc. Fall is a particularly active time for these creatures, as they must get as fat as possible for the cold season ahead.
Another top item on the list of wildlife damage complaints, Canadian geese are usually blamed for producing significant amounts of feces which, besides being disgusting and a threat to human health, they also damage property and compromise the quality of soil and water bodies. They are especially attracted by the Kentucky bluegrass and other short-cut vegetation, which will quickly be reduced to barren earth. They are also notorious for being extremely aggressive to humans and pets, especially those who venture too close to their nest or goslings. Their loud honks and cackles are also annoying to homeowners everywhere.
Squirrels are found in all major regions of Canada and don’t cause damage as significant as raccoons or Canadian geese, but they still need to be kept out if you want to see your garden bloom. It’s no secret that the little furry creatures love their fruit and nuts – so if you have fruit and nut trees planted in your garden, those will be their first target. Next off, they will eye flowers and bulbs (tulips and crocus), which will be dug up and eaten on the spot. Lawns will serve as their pantry, digging up tiny holes into the ground where to cache or bury their food supply for the winter. They also gnaw on outdoor furniture, deck railings, and similar wooden structures.
Although beneficial wildlife in their natural habitat (one bat eats up to 500 mosquitoes per hour), bats are a nuisance for Canadian homeowners. The number one reason they are removed from residential properties is because they pose significant health risks to humans, spreading rabies, Histoplasmosis (fungus affecting the lungs), and several other infections deadly to people. They also introduce bat mites into the inhabited environment, similar to bed bugs in both appearance and behavior. Bats may also cause considerable structural damage (although not directly): over time, their droppings and urine accumulate and may ruin ceilings, insulation, and other interior structures.
Most birds are welcomed by gardeners across the country, especially during summer, but some species can be destructive to lawns and vegetation. In particular, blackbirds, robins, and starlings are known to feed on corn seedlings, ripening cherries and blueberries, or even digging holes into lawns to search for worms and insects. They also leave droppings, which can be acidic to surrounding vegetation. They are also annoying noisemakers, which makes them highly undesirable during those breezy and quiet summer nights.
Trying to get rid of the uninvited guests in your garden by yourself would not be a good idea, given that some of the animals described here are protected species in Canada, and you could risk steep fines of up to $10,000 for killing them. Professional wildlife management and control services can help you remove geese, bats, squirrels, birds, and raccoons from your house and property in a humane way, also ensuring their relocation into a safe environment where they can thrive. Contact your local pest control company to talk about effective options of getting your backyard back.
Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.