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Nuisance, Urban And Damaging Wildlife

What To Do For Nuisance Or Injured Black Bears

Having issues with a black bear on your property or in your neighborhood? Call our partners at USDA Wildlife Services. They check voicemails daily and help Wisconsinites resolve bear issues across the state.

USDA Wildlife Services, Northern Wisconsin: 800-228-1368 (in-state) or 715-369-5221

USDA Wildlife Services, Southern Wisconsin: 800-433-0663 (in-state) or 920-324-4514

Wild animals can bring a sense of wonder and thrill to our lives. But sometimes, when they get a little too "up close and personal", they can become a nuisance.

Some wildlife can even damage our property: chewing or pecking on the wood siding of our houses, nibbling our garden produce, destroying our farm crops, digging up our flower bulbs or turning over our garbage cans and backyard grills. Many wildlife species that thrive in urban and suburban areas are an important part of urban ecosystems but can become a nuisance when in close proximity to humans.

You can view nuisance management techniques and information in the Nuisance wildlife guidelines[PDF] and in the table below.

If you are unable to solve your own nuisance problems, refer to the Wisconsin Trapper Association's Nuisance Wild Animal Removal Referral List [exit DNR]

Common nuisance and urban species


Bats are often found in urban landscapes. Some bat species form colonies and have their babies in warm sites such as attics, barns and bat houses. Bats in Wisconsin are insectivores and can eat their body weight in insects each night. They will not chew their way into buildings but may exploit holes created by squirrels or woodpeckers. Though uncommon, bats can carry rabies, so avoid any contact whenever possible.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • If you find a bat in a building, close the bat in a room with a door or window to the outside. Allow the bat time to leave the building on its own.
  • If the bat does not leave on its own, give it time to tire and land. Wear thick gloves and cover the bat with a box and slide paper or cardboard behind it, trapping it in the box. Then release it outside by placing the box at the base of a tree or somewhere with cover. Do not throw bats into the air.
  • Keep buildings bat-proof by enclosing common access points used by bats. [exit DNR]
  • Use exclusion to remove bats from buildings. This allows the bats to leave but not re-enter through one-way doors. Killing bats is illegal and does not solve the underlying problem of bat access to the building.

Additional resources:
Bat nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Bats in Wisconsin


Badger (Taxidea taxus): Wisconsin’s State mammal is found throughout the state.  This nocturnal species of the weasel family is not often seen, but its handywork is often seen with dug holes and burrows with a large mound of dirt near the entrance.  It is listed as a PROTECTED species in the state of Wisconsin.  Even with a status of high regard in the state, they can also be a nuisance, digging in, under and around buildings, yards, and fences.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Food Source:  Control, repel, remove or discourage potential prey food sources like chipmunks, ground squirrels, moles, voles, rabbits, wood chucks, ant mounds, and ground hives.
  • Remove prey habitat:  Remove old stumps, wood and rock piles, bird seed around feeders, and fill holes which attract or harbor many of the prey food sources.
  • Sight:  Badgers are mainly nocturnal (active at night).  Increase dark hours lighting around homes and buildings
  • Smell:  They are sensitive to smell.  Adding dryer sheets or even pet feces into the main den entrance holes two times a day will be annoying.
  • Sound:  Use scare tactics such as playing a radio, using motion detector speakers, windchimes, ultrasonic dog repellents, and using air horns, clapping or yelling if you see them.
  • Other Scare Tactics:  Using motion detecting sprinklers or spraying a badger with a hose if you see it.
  • Other deterrents:  Clear brush and undergrowth in your yard.  Yard fencing buried a foot or more can help keep most badgers out of a yard.

Additional resources:

American Badger FAQ [PDF]
Urban Wildlife Factsheet Badgers [PDF]


Beavers modify habitat to suit their needs. This often includes building dams and lodges for protection, shelter and water access. Beaver dams provide many positive environmental benefits but can also cause damage by removing trees and other vegetation, flooding property, cropland and roads. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to manage nuisance beaver.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • In areas with beaver activity, remove species that beavers prefer to utilize such as willow, aspen and red osier dogwood. Instead, plant species beavers are unlikely to utilize such as native evergreens.
  • Protect individual trees and bushes by placing cylinders of hardware cloth or mesh wire fencing at least 30 inches tall around the base.
  • Use conventional or electric fencing to protect larger areas, especially along shorelines where beaver may be using multiple access points.
  • Protect culverts with box-type barriers or fencing.
  • There are several beaver repellents or feeding depressants that are registered for use in Wisconsin and can be found at garden stores.
  • Landowners are not required to have a hunting or trapping license to shoot or trap beavers on their own property.

Additional resources:
Beaver nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Beaver damage control [PDF]

Black bears

What To Do For Nuisance, Injured Or Orphaned Black Bears

Having issues with a black bear on your property or in your neighborhood? Call our partners at USDA Wildlife Services. They check voicemails daily and respond on the phone and in the field to help Wisconsinites resolve bear issues across the state.

  • USDA Wildlife Services, Northern Wisconsin: 800-228-1368 (in-state) or 715-369-5221
  • USDA Wildlife Services, Southern Wisconsin: 800-433-0663 (in-state) or 920-324-4514

Black bears are most common in the northern half of the state, however, populations have been slowly expanding southward for the past few decades. Bears are normally solitary forest animals, but their powerful sense of smell can lead them into urban areas in search of food, especially in the spring and fall. Black bears are secretive animals and usually try to avoid people. However, conflicts with humans can occur when bears destroy gardens, bird feeders, apiaries and trash cans. By understanding bear behavior, there are several ways people can reduce negative human-bear conflicts around their homes.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Never feed bears. Feeding bears will create a bear habituated to humans. These bears may cause conflicts and eventually may have to be lethally removed.
  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans and pet food bowls.
  • If a bear begins using your bird feeder, take it down for at least two weeks to allow time for the bear to leave the area.
  • Clean and store outdoor grills after each use.
  • If you see a bear around your home, make noise so it knows you are there. Most bears will run away upon seeing a person, but banging pots or making loud noises will help frighten the bear away.

Additional resources:
Black bear nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Living with black bears [PDF]
Black bears in Wisconsin

Canada geese

The population of resident Canada geese in Wisconsin has dramatically increased over the last few decades. Canada geese are large, adaptable and long-lived. They are productive and protective of nests and young. These traits often lead to conflicts with humans.

As the population increases, so do the incidences of conflict. High concentrations of resident Canada geese can lead to landscape damage, decreased water quality, disruption of recreational activities and decreased aesthetics from abundant droppings. In Wisconsin, The management strategy for geese is twofold:

  1. Manage the overall population through hunter harvest.
  2. Address property or community-specific problems with professionally guided integrated management.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Do not feed Canada geese.
  • Modify habitat to make it less appealing to geese. Allow grass to grow longer or plant buffer strips of native vegetation around water bodies.
  • Erect fence barriers to make it difficult for geese to access water.
  • Use scare tactics such as trained dogs, auditory calls, predator effigies, mylar flagging, pyrotechnics and human harassment.
  • Chemical repellents can be used to deter geese from an area. A permit may be needed to use repellents.
  • With a permit, nest and eggs can be destroyed to decrease nesting success and aggressiveness.
  • USDA Wildlife Services can conduct round-ups in areas with nuisance flocks.

Additional resources:


Coyotes are naturally secretive creatures, however, they are opportunistic hunters. If food is available in your neighborhood, you may see them, day or night. Coyotes primarily feed on small rodents and rabbits but will eat anything they can find. Their presence can be unnerving or frightening but generally, they are more afraid of you than you are of them. In some cases, they may attack and kill small pets, but coyote attacks on humans are exceptionally rare. There are numerous ways to manage the presence of coyotes in your area.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans, bird feeders and pet food bowls. Never intentionally feed coyotes.
  • Do not provide food and water for other wildlife. It may attract coyotes and their prey.
  • Clear brush and undergrowth in your yard.
  • Use scare tactics if you see a coyote. Yell and make loud noises, shake or throw pop cans filled with coins, throw a ball, shoe, sticks or other objects or spray the coyote with water. You can also buy ultrasonic dog repellents or pocket-sized air horns.
  • Install a 6-7 foot high fence buried approximately 1 foot deep to help keep coyotes out of an area.
  • Trapping and hunting of coyotes on your property are legal year-round without a DNR license.

Concerned citizens within the Madison [exit DNR] or Milwaukee [exit DNR] areas can add coyote observations to their local iNaturalist webpage. This information assists researchers and managers in understanding urban coyote behavior and activity within urban areas. Residents can also use this page to avoid areas that consistently have high coyote observations.

Additional resources:
Coyote nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Coyote yard audit [PDF]
Coyote hazing techniques [exit DNR]
Urban coyote research project [exit DNR]


Wild urban ducks provide a wonderful bird watching opportunity and can be very exciting to see. However, some urban ducks are non-native domestic breeds and can threaten native duck species. Additionally, congregating waterfowl in public green space can result in decreased use of public areas, aggressive ducks, shore erosion and water quality concerns from the feces runoff that occurs. If you are having issues with nuisance wild ducks, you have several options.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Scare tactics such as sticks and fences decorated with Mylar flagging and noise machines may encourage them to relocate.
  • Reduce access to feeding and nesting areas with fencings such as chicken wire or plastic snow fence. Erect at least 30-inch high fencing between the water source and feeding areas.
  • Keep swimming pools covered when not in use or leave floating objects in the water such as rafts and beach balls. The movement of these items may deter ducks from entering the pool.

Additional resources:
Duck nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Waterfowl management

Feral pigs

The Wisconsin DNR has adopted the position that feral pigs are exotic, non-native animals that pose significant threats to both the environment and to agricultural operations. Feral pigs can transmit diseases and parasites and can be extremely destructive to recently planted fields and gardens. Currently, there is no confirmed, free-ranging population within the state. Sightings are typically isolated instances of escaped domestics or illegally-held captive feral swine.

If you see a feral pig:

  • Feral pigs are considered unprotected wild animals with no closed season or harvest limit. They may be removed any time throughout the year as long as you possess a valid small game license and landowner permission. Landowners may shoot feral pigs on their own property without a hunting license.
  • Report feral pig sightings and harvest to the department with a printable [PDF] or online reporting form.
  • If you know of any illegal possession or releasing of feral pigs, alert your local conservation warden immediately.

Additional resources:
Feral pig webpage


Gulls provide excellent opportunities for bird watching and help keep beaches clean by scavenging on dead fish. However, gulls often form nesting colonies on city rooftops, causing damage to HVAC systems, roofing membranes, vehicles and creating a threat to human safety. If there is a source of water nearby, you will likely encounter gulls. Gulls are protected by federal laws, but there are ways to manage gull nuisance conflicts.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Don't feed gulls. This can result in aggressive birds and poses human health and safety risks.
  • Ensure garbage cans are covered and parking lots are cleaned often.
  • Prevent gull access and nesting by installing stainless steel wires placed parallel to each other at 15 foot spacing over the rooftop. Bird spikes, gels, repellents and other bird exclusion devices are also options.
  • Nests without eggs can be removed without a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service depredation permit. If eggs are present, a permit is required.
  • Scare tactics can be used prior to gull establishment. These include noise and visual deterrents such as motion-activated alarms, gull distress calls and predator decoys. However, gulls will become habituated so these items must be moved consistently.
  • Dogs may be used to elicit a fright response when conflicts arise, however, gulls cannot be harmed in the process.

Additional resources:
Gull nuisance fact sheet [PDF]


Muskrats are a semi-aquatic rodent that is often seen in ponds or along streams and rivers. Sometimes confused with beavers, they are much smaller with silky brown fur and a narrow, scaly tail. They provide excellent ecological benefits by eating cattails and other wetland vegetation that can clog waterways when overabundant. However, muskrats will also burrow into stream banks, ditches and shorelines and eat vegetation from yards and gardens. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to manage nuisance muskrats.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Erect fencing around gardens and pick up fallen fruit.
  • Lay mesh fencing flat along shorelines to deter burrowing activity of muskrats. Fencing should be secured every few feet and placed three feet below the water and one foot above the water.
  • Muskrats prefer burrowing in steep slopes. Construct gentle slopes (3:1 ratio or less) along the shoreline to make it less attractive to muskrats.
  • Riprap problem areas to create a barrier. Use stones that are greater than six inches thick and placed three feet below the water and one foot above the water.

Additional resources:
Muskrat nuisance fact sheet [PDF]

Mute swans

Three swan species can be found in Wisconsin -- trumpeter, tundra and the non-native mute swan. Trumpeter and tundra swans are migratory species whereas mute swans are an introduced non-native species that tend to remain year-round. Mute swans are generally a little smaller than the other two species (25-30 poudns) and have orange bills with a fleshy black knob at the base.

Mute swans are an invasive species that can threaten Wisconsin's native trumpeter and tundra swans. Report mute swans immediately to your local wildlife biologist and don't encourage them through feeding. State law prohibits citizens from harming any swan in Wisconsin and it is illegal to possess one without the proper permit.

Additional resources:
Mute swans [PDF]
Swans in Wisconsin


The opossum is the only marsupial in Wisconsin. Opossums are nature’s garbage disposal, eating fallen fruit before it rots, as well as eating crickets, beetles, mice and other household pests. Opossums do not dig up yards but will eat from your garden, compost or garbage and may raid a chicken coop given the opportunity. Opossums are relatively slow-moving animals and rarely attack unless cornered. There are many ways to deter nuisance opossums.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans and pet food bowls.
  • Spray lawn and garden with insecticide to reduce the number of available prey.
  • Exclude opossums from buildings on your property by securing holes and other openings.
  • Remove potential shelters such as rock or woodpiles.
  • Use bright spotlights in areas frequented by opossums.
  • If opossums take up residence under your porch or shed, play a radio continuously to encourage them to leave.

Additional resources:
Opossum nuisance fact sheet [PDF]


The Eastern cottontail is an abundant species found throughout central and southern Wisconsin, while snowshoe hares are commonly seen in the north. Cottontails are abundant in urban and suburban areas, while snowshoe hares prefer young forests and are less commonly seen in town. While rabbits can be enjoyable to watch, they can also damage flowers, vegetables, trees and shrubs at any time of year. With the use of fencing, rabbits can be an attractive and interesting addition to your backyard.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Clean up fallen birdseed, and don’t provide additional food sources for rabbits and other wildlife.
  • Protect individual trees from rabbits with wire hardware cloth or fence barriers; the barriers should extend above standard snow depth and stand 1-2 inches from the trunk.
  • Erect fencing around your garden 2-3 feet high and buried 2-3 inches deep to deter rabbit activity.
  • Reduce habitat for rabbits around your yard. Remove brush piles and other debris piles, trim fence rows, tall grass and other heavy brush around your yard.
  • Taste and odor repellents can be effective for preventing rabbits from browsing on your vegetable patch, although their effectiveness can vary based on environmental conditions.
  • Landowners are not required to have a hunting or trapping license to shoot or trap rabbits on their own property.

Additional resources:
Rabbit nuisance fact sheet [PDF]


Raccoons are a common and well-known furbearer in Wisconsin. They have distinctive black masks and ringed tails that are easily recognizable. They can live almost anywhere and will eat almost anything. As such, they do very well in urban areas where they have access to human-supplied sources of food. Raccoons carry many diseases that can affect human and/or pet health. There are a variety of ways to control nuisance raccoons.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans and pet food bowls.
  • Hang bird feeders where raccoons can’t access them and clean up the spilled bird.
  • Keep buildings raccoon-proof by securing access to holes and broken windows. Keep chimneys closed with appropriate materials (hardware cloth, commercial cap, etc.).
  • Repel raccoons from your garden by installing single wire electric fence set at 6 inches or a double wire electric fence set at 5 and 12 inches.
  • Trim trees so they don’t overhang your roof, prune overgrown bushes and remove or elevate woodpiles.
  • Landowners are not required to have a hunting or trapping license to shoot or trap raccoons on their own property.

Additional resources:
Raccoon nuisance fact sheet [PDF]

Red foxes

Red foxes are Wisconsin’s second-smallest member of the canid family. Red foxes have the largest worldwide distribution of any carnivore and can be found in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. Historically associated with farms and edge habitat, red foxes thrive in urban areas because of the abundant sources of food available. Red foxes primarily eat small mammals like rodents, rabbits and are important for rodent control.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans and pet food bowls.
  • Foxes eat rodents and insects that are attracted to birdseed, so remove bird feeders if you are seeing foxes in your yard.
  • Keep foxes out of an area with fencing 6-7 feet high and buried approximately 1 foot deep.
  • Fence or block the bases of sheds and the areas under porches to prevent foxes from denning under them.
  • Scare tactics can be used to deter foxes. These include yelling or shaking a can filled with rocks, throwing anything handy in the direction of the fox, or spraying the fox with a hose. You can also buy ultrasonic dog repellents or pocket-sized air horns.
  • If a fox begins to den in your yard or under your porch, leaving a radio playing continuously near the den may encourage the foxes to relocate.
  • Keep bushes trimmed and brush cleared from your yard.
  • Single wire electric fence set at 6 inches can help to repel fox that are raiding chicken coops.
  • Landowners are not required to have a hunting or trapping license to shoot or trap foxes on their own property.

Additional resources:
Red fox nuisance fact sheet [PDF]

Sandhill cranes

Cranes are a conservation success story, with a thriving population despite greatly reduced populations in the 1800s. As the crane population increases, as does the likelihood of conflict with humans. Sandhill cranes may cause damage by attacking reflective surfaces like windows and feeding on gardens and agricultural crops. There are a variety of techniques to manage nuisance sandhill cranes.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Use 4-6 foot high fencing, overhead grids or some other type of barrier to prevent sandhill cranes from entering an area.
  • Use harassment devices such as pyrotechnics, propane exploders, Mylar flagging and balloons to discourage cranes from using an area.
  • Avipel can be used by farmers to prevent cranes from consuming corn.
  • Sandhill cranes are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (1918). Therefore, a federal permit is needed to trap or shoot cranes.

Additional resources:
Sandhill Cranes
USDA Sandhill and Whooping Cranes [PDF]


Skunks are excellent at controlling pest species and are an important part of our ecosystem. However, many people are wary of skunks because of their ability to spray a noxious scent. Skunks usually provide several warning signs before they spray, and being calm and quiet around them will help reduce spraying as they won’t feel threatened. Skunks will also dig holes in gardens and lawns for grubs, worms and other prey. There are a variety of ways to control nuisance skunks.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans and pet food bowls.
  • Spraying your lawn and garden with an insecticide will reduce the number of natural prey items available to a skunk, and may deter them from visiting the area.
  • Skunk repellent can be placed within a building to repel skunks.
  • Exclude skunks from buildings on your property by securing holes and other openings. Remove potential habitats such as rock or woodpiles.
  • Scare tactics through the use of lights and noises can be used to deter a skunk from using an area. However, over time skunks may become used to a certain kind of harassment and another option should be considered.
  • If a skunk takes up residence under your porch or shed, leaving a radio playing continuously may encourage the animal to leave.

Additional resources:
Skunk nuisance fact sheet [PDF]


Several squirrel species are found throughout Wisconsin. Gray and fox squirrels are commonly seen in hardwood forests. Red squirrels are generally found in pine forests. Flying squirrels are a nocturnal, protected species and are rarely seen. While squirrels can be entertaining to watch and enjoy, they also can be a nuisance, destroying gardens and lawns and getting into buildings to eat stored seeds or gnaw on wiring. There are a variety of strategies that can be used to manage nuisance squirrels.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Clean up fallen birdseed and put barriers around the feeders squirrels can’t get past.
  • Exclude squirrels from climbing structures. Encircle poles with a 2-foot wide metal loop of smooth metal 6 feet above ground.
  • Cover small openings in buildings with ½-inch wire mesh. Be sure all squirrels are out of the building; more damage can result from a squirrel gnawing his way out.
  • Trim trees adjacent to buildings so squirrels can’t jump onto roofs or eaves.
  • Chemical repellents can be used to protect from squirrel damage. Repellents with capsaicin or naphthalene can be bought at farm and garden stores.
  • Scare tactics such as motion-detector sprinklers can keep squirrels away from an area.
  • Playing a radio continuously in your attic may encourage squirrels who have taken up residence to move on.
  • Landowners are not required to have a hunting or trapping license to shoot or trap squirrels on their own property.

Additional resources:
Squirrel nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Flying Squirrel FAQ [PDF]


Reintroduction efforts for Eastern Wild Turkey began in the 1970s and have resulted in thriving turkey populations in Wisconsin. However, the success of these efforts has led to an increase in human-turkey conflicts. Backyards and parks provide excellent habitat for turkeys and urban areas have fewer natural predators than rural areas. Turkeys forage in gardens, roost in trees and on homes, cause vehicle accidents and even act aggressively toward humans and pets during the spring mating season.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Do not feed turkeys. This can result in aggressive birds and poses human health and safety risks.
  • Remove birdseed from the ground, thus eliminating an easy food source that draws turkeys to your yard.
  • Erect fences around your garden to help keep turkeys out. Turkeys can fly, but prefer to stay on the ground whenever possible.
  • Scare tactics such as predator decoys, sticks and fences decorated with mylar flagging and noise machines make turkeys uncomfortable and encourage them to locate new, friendlier habitat. Move objects frequently to keep birds on edge.
  • Nontoxic, biodegradable repellents such as Methyl anthranilate can be sprayed on crops, gardens and lawns to keep turkeys from using the area. This repellent has a bad taste that will deter turkeys while not harming them in any way.
  • Collect fruit or nuts that fall from trees and dispose of the them offsite.
  • Turkey trapping is a useful removal measure, with the correct permits.

Additional resources:
Turkey nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Turkey management

White-tailed deer

The white-tailed deer is an iconic species in Wisconsin for both hunting and wildlife viewing. Increasingly more deer live in urban areas as humans expand into rural areas and as deer populations grow. Although deer may provide enjoyable wildlife viewing opportunities, high deer numbers in local areas can result in human-deer conflicts. Deer browsing can destroy gardens, ornamental landscaping and fields. High deer numbers can result in conflict with pets and increased deer-vehicle collisions. Management of deer on a local scale can help resolve some of these conflicts.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Hang bird feeders at least 8 feet off the ground.
  • Deer can feed on most plants although not all are preferred. Use unpalatable species when landscaping around homes and offices. Plastic netting or wire cages can be used to prevent browsing on individual plantings.
  • Taste and odor repellents and scare devices (e.g., lights and noises) can be effective for preventing deer browsing, though some deer may become accustomed.
  • Exclusion fencing is the best means to keep deer from an area. Fencing 8 feet high will completely exclude deer although shorter fences, outward slanted fences and electrified fences can provide adequate protection in most cases.

Additional resources:
Deer nuisance fact sheet [PDF]
Deer management


Wisconsin is one of about a dozen states in the country with a wild gray wolf population. Gray wolves, also referred to as timber wolves, are the largest wild members of the dog family. As with other wild canids, wolves are very territorial, and will guard their territories from other wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs. Avoidance of wolves is the best way to minimize conflict, but because wolves are so widespread, total avoidance may not be possible.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Remove potential food sources such as open garbage cans and pet food bowls. Never intentionally feed wolves.
  • Install motion sensor lights to help keep wolves away from dwellings.
  • If wolves have been sighted near your home, keep pets indoors or confine them in pens until wolves are no longer present. Secure other domestic animals such as rabbits and chickens when wolves are in the area.
  • Avoid releasing dogs outside for bathroom breaks after dark except in areas with good lighting or that are fenced.
  • If you have a suspected wolf depredation, contact USDA Wildlife Services.

Additional resources:
Wolf conflict guidance
Wolves in Wisconsin


Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, are a commonly seen species near human development. They dig extensive burrows which can result in the undermining or weakening of foundations, driveways and rock walls. Woodchucks are strict vegetarians and may dine on ornamental, garden and agricultural crops. They have been known to chew on underground wires, outdoor furniture and decks.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • Exclude woodchucks from gardens using fencing. Woodchucks can climb and dig so the fencing should be at least 18 inches above ground and buried 6 inches with an outward-facing apron. Electric fencing with a wire approximately 5 inches above the ground can also exclude woodchucks.
  • Scare tactics by a motion-sensitive unit that emits noise or water spray are useful tools to keep woodchucks leery. Over time they will likely become accustomed to this level of harassment and it will be less effective.
  • There are repellents available at garden-type stores for application to ornamental plantings; none are available for plants or products that will be consumed by humans.
  • Woodchucks can be captured in a live trap with a 10x12 inch access door. After capturing, it can be relocated or euthanized.
  • Landowners are not required to have a hunting or trapping license to shoot or trap woodchucks on their own property.

Additional resources:
Woodchuck nuisance fact sheet [PDF]


Multiple species of woodpeckers are common in Wisconsin and will often visit bird feeders. Woodpeckers use their strong bill to create nesting cavities, search for insects or attract a mate. This can result in damage to utility poles, residences and other wood structures. Excavations into dwellings can create heating and cooling inefficiencies, water leaks and other maintenance issues. The best way to reduce or eliminate damage is to address it soon after discovery, utilizing as many suggested techniques as feasible.

Nuisance management techniques:

  • If you are having nuisance issues with woodpeckers, take down bird feeders.
  • Woodpeckers typically prefer soft or decomposing wood for excavations. Replacing weathered or rotten boards may lessen their interest. However, cedar or laminate wood sidings—even new—are the most often damaged siding type in Wisconsin.
  • Suspend bird netting a few inches from your house around damaged areas to prevent continued access.
  • Hardware cloth, sheet metal, or steel wool can be applied directly to the damaged area if it’s a small enough spot.
  • Tack aluminum foil, Mylar flagging or a mirror to the damaged area. The movement or reflection can frighten woodpeckers away.
  • Making loud noises, waving arms, or spraying the woodpecker with the hose when you see it may eventually frighten the bird away.
  • Offer the woodpecker an alternative nesting box[exit DNR].
  • If you have existing woodpecker problems, you may have an insect problem underneath the siding. Contacting a pest extermination company.
  • Applying a wood preservative to your siding and using caulk to fill holes or cracks may minimize the potential for insect activity.

Additional resources:
Woodpecker nuisance fact sheet [PDF]

Managing wildlife encounters around your home

  • Complete a yard audit [PDF] to find areas of your property that could be improved to minimize wildlife encounters.
  • Remove all sources of food from your yard, especially pet food and treats.
  • Encircle the bottom of your porch with fencing to prevent animals from denning underneath.
  • If you have birdfeeders, periodically clean up any spilled birdseed and hang bird feeders at least 8 feet off the ground to prevent access by deer, elk and bear.
  • Screen window wells, chimneys, stovepipes and any vents with wire mesh or commercially made grates.

Wildlife causing agricultural damage

Wisconsin has a program that assists agriculture producers when wildlife damage agricultural resources. The Wildlife Damage Abatement and Claims Program (WDACP) provides damage prevention assistance and partial compensation to farmers when wild deer, bear, geese, turkeys, elk and cougar damage agricultural crops, depredate livestock or damage commercial apiaries (beehives). Through this program, wildlife managers issue agricultural damage shooting permits to farmers for removal of deer (and occasionally bear, geese and turkeys) that cause damage. Non-lethal materials like trapping and relocation services or temporary fencing may also be available through the program.