Prevent Wildlife Conflicts This Winter

Even though the fall season has been relatively hot and dry, wildlife knows cold weather is on the way. And this is the time of year many animals seek places to build nests and burrows for the winter. Unfortunately what sometimes appears to be a “perfect”  spot for them is actually the attic or crawlspace of your home!

These conflicts can be prevented by carefully going over the seams of your home, and identifying places that may provide access. Even a small crack or loose board is enough to entice a resourceful animal to make it a winter retreat.

Identify places that may provide easy access.

Many access points can be sealed with galvanized hardware cloth that has been stapled into place and covered with dirt and gravel where appropriate. Other spots may be sealed with aluminum flashing or an extra piece of trim.

Keep in mind that once an animal is living in or under your home, there are still humane ways of evicting it without trapping. Trapping often causes enough stress to put the animal into cardiac arrest. Other times, the animal will die of self-inflicted wounds sustained will panicking or trying to escape the trap.  Many individuals fail to check the trap on a regular basis and some animals die of dehydration.

Seal openings with aluminum flashing or extra trim.

Even if the animal survives the trapping process, due to the stress of being handled by humans, they often will not survive the relocation process. Wildlife depends on having a territory that is familiar to them, where they know dangerous and safe areas, the water source, and where they likely have siblings, parents, and offspring. Relocating a wild animal removes all these important resources and often forces them into conflicts and dangerous situations while they frantically try to find a water source and safe place to live.

In addition to directly or indirectly killing the wild animal, trapping does not resolve the fact that an access point into the home remains, and inevitably more animals will find it.

Once an animal has decided to live in your home, there are humane and effective ways to encourage wildlife to relocate.

Used cat litter, ammonia moth balls and/or ammonia-soaked rags can be make an area less attractive to smaller wildlife. Lights and noise can deter others; a radio and spotlight left on for a few nights can discourage wild animals from trying to make a nest or burrow in the area. A one-way door placed over the access point can allow an animal to leave but not return.

There are humane ways to evict wildlife from your home.

Humanely evicting wild animals requires a basic knowledge of their daily habits and natural history. Doing so makes it less likely your efforts will compromise the animals’ survival or separate them from their babies.

Often a temporary shelter (such as a nestbox) placed outside of the newly-sealed access point will keep evicted animals from being left “out in the cold” and vulnerable to predators while they secure a new, natural nest site.

There are numerous resources for learning more about sealing and securing your home and humanely evicting wildlife. Some of our favorites include These websites offer helpful and practical tips for wildlife conflicts.

Another great resource is the book, Wild Neighbors, by John Hadidian, which offers a thorough overview of various wild animals, their habits and how to handle potential conflicts with them.

Happinest Thanks YOU, Brad!

Bradley Wyatt, an amazing Happinest Wildlife volunteer.

Our volunteer of the month is Bradley Wyatt, who has transported animals on countless occasions. Transportation is a crucial, and often an overlooked aspect of wildlife rehabilitation. Many times, an animal that has been found is already compromised-either from injuries, dehydration, shock or starvation. Getting them to a rehabilitator quickly can make the difference in whether or not they recover.

Transportation can be very stressful for wild animals and may further exacerbate their already vulnerable condition. A person who is transporting wildlife must make sure the animal is in an appropriate container, and not exposed to any additional stress from unnecessary noise or handling. Transporters also have to postpone making any stops until the animal is safely delivered.

Bradley has never hesitated to answer the call for help; he quickly responds to requests for transport and rescues. This summer, Bradley climbed down an abandoned well to rescue two snapping turtles that were trapped at the bottom. This required him to carefully dislodge them from the stones, dried mud, and old wooden beams at the bottom and carry them up a ladder and out of the well. After examining them with our turtle expert, Anne McAbee, and determining they were healthy enough to be on their own, Bradley took the turtles to a nearby release site that was safer for them.

On another rescue mission, Bradley climbed on top of a series of storage building to free a bird that had become tangled in some old landscaping material. Because of his efforts, the bird made a full recovery under the care of Sherry Teas, and was later released.

Bradley has also made numerous trips to and from Tullahoma, picking up and dropping off animals with our fellow rehabilitators at Ziggy’s Tree. He has also traveled to Raccoon Mountain, Signal Mountain, Ooltewah, Cleveland and everywhere in between pick up sick, orphaned and injured animals and take them where they need to go. In addition to songbirds and snapping turtles, Bradley has also transported ducks and ducklings, squirrels, opossums, rabbits, mice, hawks and owls. We are so thankful to Bradley for generously donating his time to help these animals get care as soon as possible.

Bradley also helps us with our fundraising events and setting up booths at various events. When he is not volunteering with Happinest, you may find him taking care of animals at the local animal shelter, kayaking or enjoying adventures with his dog, Wall-E.

Happinest Wildlife would like to thank our amazing volunteer, Bradley Wyatt.

New Raptor Enclosures


New raptor enclosures in Cleveland, TN

This month we completed construction on a new Raptor enclosure that is located in Cleveland area. The enclosure contains 3 limited flight cages that can hold anything from a Screech Owl to an Eagle.

New raptor enclosure includes 3 limited flight cages.

In addition, there is a small jump that will be great for Screech Owls or Kestrels. This new enclosure provides a wonderful safe place for our injured birds to recover until they’re able to graduate to a larger full flight enclosure and eventual release.

The predator proofing and some of the window elements were completed by reutilizing some heavy grade wire fence panels that were donated by Volkswagen of Chattanooga. Once again we owe them a THANK YOU!