Common Questions about Wildlife at Your Home

Raiding Garbage Cans

The simplest solution is to bring the cans inside where the animal(s) cannot reach them. If this is not possible, pour 1 cup of ammonia inside the garbage can or sprinkle black pepper on the top bag inside the garbage can. Another deterrent is to place rags soaked in ammonia over the top of the garbage can lid and secure with bungee cords. Use the techniques for a 5 to 7 day period or use when putting garbage out for your weekly pick up.


Raccoons and skunks may tear up lawns in search of grubs. Cayenne pepper and rags soaked in ammonia can be placed in the affected area. Another option is to mix 8 oz. Dawn Dish Soap, a handful of chewing tobacco and water in a lawn sprayer and spray on the affected grass area. Contact the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Illinois at 630-653-4114 for additional advice.

Communal Bathroom Areas

Clean up feces and place ammonia rags around the area. Do not handle feces with bare hands, use gloves or a shovel. Re-soak the rags in ammonia daily and continue to use for one week.


Exclusion is always the best technique. Build a 4' high chicken wire fence around the garden leaving the top 12" to 18" unattached to any support and bent outward. The animal's weight will pull the fence downward, landing him right back where he started. If the animal is a good digger, surround your garden with a 3' high wire mesh fence and place 1' of the wire mesh into the ground. Taste deterrents will also work, however, they will need to be reapplied after a heavy dew or rain. Recommended taste deterrents are: mixing 2 tablespoons of hot sauce with 1 gallon of water, make a garlic puree and spray onto plants, sprinkle baby powder on the entire plant or check with your local nursery or home center for commercial products.

Window Wells

Place a roughed board at a 45 degree angle into the window well. Make sure the board is long enough to act as a ramp to the top. If you do not have a roughed board, wrap a towel or carpeting around the board to provide traction for the animal. Place enticing food at the top of the ramp. Some animals are nocturnal and will not leave until night. Attach a string/rope to a 5-gallon bucket handle and lower the bucket into the window well with food placed inside the bucket to entice the animal. Place the bucket on its side so the animal is able to walk inside. Once  the animal is inside, slowly raise the bucket up to the ground level and place it on its side away from you so the animal can walk out. Try to stay out of the animal's sight. Remember to cover all the window wells which surround the home, especially those which are covered by a deck or bay window. There are specially made covers for the basement well which acts as a fire escape.

Wildlife Babies

In most cases, wildlife babies should be left alone. Do not touch any wildlife unless they are in immediate danger from dogs, cats or cars. The solution to a dog or cat threatening a baby animal is not to remove the wild animal but to keep the pet restrained while any baby animals are in the neighborhood. Please remember that it is illegal to keep wild animals without a license, even for very short periods of time. Species-specific information can be found on our Wildlife Babies webpage.