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Nuisance Wildlife

Many wildlife are well adapted to living near people and as they become accustomed to humans they may cause conflicts. Options for handling issues will vary by species. Learn how to prevent and resolve conflicts with wildlife by clicking on each species below.

In some instances you can work with a nuisance animal control company. You can use our nuisance animal control directory to search for a company closest to you. We do not endorse or explicitly recommend any of the business on this list.

Nuisance animal control directory
  • Michigan is home to nine bat species. All of Michigan’s bats primarily eat insects. These insectivores provide important benefits to farmers and landowners by consuming harmful insects that damage crops. All bat species in Michigan are protected and may not be harmed. If you find a dead bat outdoors, contact your local DNR office to have it submitted for disease testing.

    Bats can become nuisances when they enter homes, businesses or outbuildings. Bats can enter through very small cracks – just 1 ¼ inch by 3/8 inches in size.

    Learn more on our bat page.

    Prevent bats from entering buildings

    • Conduct a thorough inspection in the early spring. Bats have pups around May 16 – July 31, it is difficult to remove all the pups during this timeframe.
    • Monitor for entrance or exit holes.
    • Seal any secondary exits or entrances.
    • Install a bat house outside of the building in an area safe for bats to reside. Instructions for how to build a bat house can be found at Michigan.gov/Bats.

    Check it out before you let it out

    • If you suspect a person has been bitten by a bat or has had direct exposure, contact your local health department. Bats can transmit rabies to humans.
    • If you suspect a pet has been bitten by a bat, contact your veterinarian. Bats can transmit rabies to animals as well.
    • If the bat is dead, take it to the Health Department or veterinarian for disease testing.
    • Learn more about rabies at Michigan.gov/Rabies.

    Removing bats from the attic

    • During the pup rearing time (approximately May 16 – July 31), it can be very difficult to remove bats, even with one-way doors. Young bats will struggle to escape and will likely die without their mothers. Consider removing them prior to or after the pup rearing time to avoid causing impacts to bat populations.
    • Install a one-way bat exclusion device to the main exit/entrance. Leave in place for a few days until bats leave, remove device, and then seal off entrance/exit.
    • For large colonies of bats, contact a nuisance animal control company.

    Removing bats from the home

    If it has been determined by the local health department or veterinarian that no exposure has occurred and the bat is not needed for testing, here are some tips for removing the bat:

    • Confine the bat to one room.
    • Open windows. Close the doors to the room and wait for the bat to leave.
    • If the bat does not leave overnight, call a nuisance animal control company.
    • If you choose to try to capture the bat yourself, always wear thick gloves. Slide a shoebox or other sturdy container over the bat and quickly place the lid on the box. Take the box outdoors, loosen the lid, and lean the box against a tree so that the bat may climb out. Bats cannot take flight from the ground, so use a rough structure that the bat can grip when releasing.
    • If the bat enters the home in the winter, they should not be chased or released outdoors as they will not survive. Instead, call a nuisance control company.
  • Michigan’s largest rodent, the beaver, is known for great feats of engineering, building dams and lodges out of logs, sticks, and mud. However, beavers can cause problems for landowners when their gnawing habits ruin landscape trees and when their dams create flooding.

    Damage prevention and control tips:

    • Eliminate food sources like desirable trees and woody vegetation where possible. Beavers especially enjoy cottonwood, willow, and aspen.
    • For landscape trees, place metal flashing, hardware cloth or tree guards around the trees at least 3 feet high to prevent gnawing on trees.
    • Fence around small critical areas like drains, culverts or other small areas to prevent dam building.
    • With a permit from the local DNR wildlife biologist, continually destroy dams and materials used to build dams. If the dam has grown large enough to require the use of tools, contact the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Environmental Assistance Center, 1-800-662-9278, or the EGLE district office for your area to obtain a dam removal permit.

    Removing a beaver from private property

    • Install a Clemson beaver pond leveler or beaver baffler in or near coverts and dam openings. These devices allow water to move through them while preventing dam construction.
    • If you live in an area where trapping is allowed, beavers may be trapped in season with a valid base and fur harvester license.
    • Contact the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers to see if they have anyone interested in trapping the beaver
    • If these methods do not alleviate the beaver issues you’re experiencing, the final step is to contact a nuisance animal control company or the local wildlife biologist, depending on where you’re located.
      • If you’re located on private land in Zone 3 (southern MI) and it is between April 1st – April 29, contact a nuisance control company for their assistance. See the Hunting Digest for the zoning map.

    If you are located on private land in Zone 3 and it is outside of that timeframe, or if you’re located in any other counties, contact the local DNR Customer Service Center, year-round, to obtain a Damage and Nuisance Animal permit

  • Black Bears are most common in the northern two thirds of the state, with occasional sightings further south. Black bears have enormous appetites and an excellent sense of smell. They can remember the locations of food sources from year to year. Bears will travel great distances to find food. Black bears are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, eating both plant and animal matter.

    Preventing conflicts with bears at home:

    • Never intentionally feed a bear.
    • Remove potential food sources, like bird feeders, from your yard. Do not feed the birds in the spring, summer and fall, when bears are most active.
    • Keep pet food inside or in a secured area.
    • Keep garbage and odor at a minimum by removing trash often and cleaning container with disinfectant.
    • Keep garbage in a secured area or in a secured container with a metal, lockable lid until disposal.
    • Keep grills and picnic tables clean.
    • Apiaries (bee hives), fruit trees, and gardens can be protected from bears by electric fencing. 
    • Tips on avoiding conflicts - The Bear Essentials video

    Preventing conflicts with bears when camping or hiking:

    • Never intentionally feed a bear.
    • Keep a clean camp - minimize food odors and waste.
    • Food and toiletries should NEVER be kept in tents.
    • Store food and toiletries in airtight containers in a vehicle trunk or suspend food in burlap, plastic bags, or backpacks from trees. Hang 12 feet above ground, 10 feet from trunk, and 5 feet from nearest branch.
    • Always cook at a distance from your campsite and wash utensils shortly after eating.
    • Don’t sleep in clothes that have cooking odors or blood on them.
    • Store trash as you would food - burning or burying waste attracts bears.
    • Travel in groups and make noise when hiking.
    • Carry bear spray.

    If you encounter a black bear:

    • Stand your ground. DO NOT run or play dead.
    • Make loud noises and back away slowly.
    • Always provide a clear, unobstructed escape route for the bear.
    • Rarely do bears attack. If they do, fight back.
    • Treat bears with respect and observe them from a distance.

    Continued conflicts with a bear:

    Contact the local DNR office for additional management options if prevention techniques have been unsuccessful.

    Resources

  • Canada geese have experienced population growth in areas throughout North America, including Michigan. This trend is due in part to the success of wildlife management programs and the adaptability of these magnificent birds. Canada geese nest in every Michigan county, but are most common in the southern third of the state.

    Preventing conflicts with geese at home:

    • Make your yard less attractive to geese by allowing the grass to grow long. Don’t fertilize or water it.
    • Use scare tactics to frighten geese away.
      • Scare tactics could include: Shell crackers, bird alarms or bird bangers, distress cries, screamers, electronic noise systems, motion detector accessories, bird scare balloons, mylar scare tape, and plastic flags.
    • Repellents may help in the short-term to deter geese from feeding on the grass. Repellents made from grape extract may repel birds from turf areas.
    • In June and July, Canada geese are molting and unable to fly. Construct a temporary barrier between your yard and the water to keep flightless geese out.
    • Do not feed Canada geese. Artificial feeding can habituate them and harm their digestive system. Bread products are not beneficial to waterfowl survival.
    • Be aware of your surroundings when visiting parks and areas near water. Canada geese are protective of their nests and hatchlings. Do not disturb them or get too close.

    Nests, aggressive geese, and population control options:

    • Canada goose hunting seasons are available throughout the state. Hunting is an effective and economical tool to control goose populations. Season dates and bag limits can be found in the current Waterfowl Hunting Digest at Michigan.gov/Waterfowl.
    • Bird nests and the eggs they may contain are protected under federal law. It is illegal to touch, move, or possess any part of the nest or eggs without the proper permit.
    • In many urban areas, hunting may not be allowed for certain reasons. In this case, specially permitted nuisance control companies can be hired to assist landowners with goose control programs.
    • Contact the USDA Wildlife Services for removal assistance including nest destruction and relocation permits.
    • Canada goose permit and contractor information
    • Nuisance Canada goose FAQs
    • You can contact your local DNR office if there is an aggressive Canada goose causing a public safety risk, farm damage, or an inappropriate nest in your area.

    Resources

  • Coyotes are common throughout Michigan in rural and urban areas. They are active day and night, but most active around sunrise and sunset. They are abundant in areas where adequate food, cover and water are available. Breeding takes place January - March and people are more likely to see and hear coyotes during this time. 

    Prevention and Control Tips

    For your safety, NEVER intentionally feed or try to tame coyotes. It is critical that they retain their natural fear of people.

    • Eliminate outside food sources.
      • Garbage or pet food left out may draw their attention.
      • Coyotes may also take advantage of the small mammals and birds that bird feeders and gardens often attract.
    • Clear out brush piles that provide hiding places for small mammals and birds.
    • Keep small pets indoors or accompany them outside and keep them on a leash.
    • Coyotes, like any wild animal, can act unpredictably and should be treated with respect and enjoyed from a distance.
    • If you see a coyote in your area, try to scare it off by yelling, clapping or making other loud noises. Most coyotes are naturally afraid of people and will leave if you frighten them. Watch the video: How to haze a nuisance coyote.

    Removal Tips

    • Coyote hunting and trapping seasons are available statewide. Details on season dates and bag limits can be found in the Fur Harvester Digest.
    • If problems exist outside regular hunting or trapping seasons, coyotes can be killed without a license on private land by the landowner or a designee if the coyote is doing or about to do damage to private property, pets, livestock, or humans.
    • In some areas, hunting or trapping may not be allowed for certain reasons. In this case, specially permitted nuisance control companies can be hired to assist landowners in the safe removal of problem animals.
    • If coyote depredation on livestock becomes a problem, please contact your local DNR office.

    Resources

  • White-tailed deer are found in every county in Michigan and can easily adapt to their surroundings. Deer can be found in just about every habitat type, including both urban and suburban areas.

    In urban and suburban areas, white-tailed deer will take advantage of gardens and landscaping for food. They may even try to feed from bird feeders. By removing potential food sources and protecting gardens with fencing, deer may move to other areas for food. Never intentionally feed or try to tame a white-tailed deer.

    Prevention and control tips

    • Do not intentionally feed deer.
    • Remove or modify bird feeders to prevent deer from accessing the food.
    • Construct fences or put wiring around gardens or individual plants to protect from damage.
    • Use scare tactics to frighten deer away.
    • Try repellents or modify landscaping. Use plants that are less likely to be eaten by deer.
    • Leave fawns in the wild; it is not unusual to find a fawn on its own.

    Hunting is one option communities may use to help reduce deer populations in their area. If hunting is not currently an option in your area, try some non-lethal deterrent methods to discourage deer. Deterrent methods are generally a short-term solution to solve issues, but they usually aren't effective long-term. Examples of deterrents include fencing to keep deer out of a specific area, using noise and visual scare tactics, applying taste deterrents to ornamental plants, removing feed and making bird feeders inaccessible to deer.

    Deer may be aggressive towards pets, particularly dogs, that they view as a predator/threat. If a deer is acting aggressive or attacking a pet, use scare tactics to frighten the deer away and bring the pet indoors until the deer has left the area. Accompany your pet outdoors and keep it on a leash.

    The local DNR office can be contacted if there is an aggressive white-tailed deer causing a public safety risk, a sick deer, agricultural or horticultural damage, or for additional prevention and control options.

    Resources

  • Duck Nests

    • While it may not seem like an ideal location, urban and suburban yards are actually safe places for mother mallards to nest. 
    • If you have a mallard nesting in your shrubs or gardens, simply leave her in peace and enjoy watching your wild neighbor.
    • Keep dogs, cats and kids away from the nest, as birds, their nests and eggs are protected by federal law and must be left alone.
    • She'll be a very quiet neighbor, and if the nest fails on its own - something that happens regularly - just wish her luck on her next attempt.
    • She will likely sit on her nest for about a month before the eggs hatch and will usually leave the nest with newly hatched ducklings the same day that they hatch!
    • Don't worry, even if water isn't close by, she knows where it is and will get her brood there safely.

    Ducks in Pools

    • To discourage ducks from your pool, put the cover on the pool when not in use.
    • If a duck or ducklings are stuck and unable to get out of the pool on their own, try adding a ramp for them to climb out on. Use rough, not smooth, material at a low angle to help the ducks feet grip the ramp.
  • Contact your local county animal control regarding nuisance feral cat issues or contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for additional information.

  • Red and gray fox can be found throughout Michigan and may even be found in urban or suburban areas. It is not unusual to see them, especially if there are places where food and shelter are available. Fox are most commonly observed during early morning or late evening but can also be observed during the day.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Never intentionally feed wildlife.
    • Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet foods and bird feeders.
    • Clear out any wood and brush piles or tall grass; they are good habitat for birds, rabbits and mice which may attract fox.
    • Put garbage out the morning of pickup day.
    • Never approach or touch a fox.
    • If you see a fox, make lots of noise by yelling, clapping your hands, or banging pots and pans, to scare away the fox. These noises let it know that this is your space and that you don’t want it there. Continuing to scare the fox whenever you see it may help it decide the area is unpleasant and to move on.
    • Discourage a fox from denning on your property by making sure you are creating a lot of human activity and disturbance in the area. Running lawn equipment or making a lot of noise around the area may make the fox uncomfortable and they may choose another den site or relocate their family if they have already had kits.
    • Do not allow small pets to roam freely when fox are present – consider keeping pets indoors and accompany them outside, especially at night.
    • If a fox dens on your property, they will most likely be solitary and confined to the den while the mother fox has her kits. During the spring the kits will emerge from the den and set out to find dens of their own. Make sure all food sources have been removed and scare the kits away when you see them. If they feel threatened, they will leave the property in search for a safer den site.

    Removal options

  • Groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, are large squirrels that are strict herbivores. They eat grasses, plants, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and other plant matter. Groundhogs hibernate in their dens during the winter months.

    Groundhogs dig large holes and long underground tunnels that can cause structural damage, crop/ garden damage, or damage to farm equipment or livestock.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Place fencing around gardens to keep groundhogs out. Fencing should be at least 3 feet tall and made of thick wire. Bury the fencing under the ground about 12 inches deep as well, to keep groundhogs from digging under the fence.
    • Groundhogs can climb nursery, orchard, or ornamental trees to access fruits. Place metal flashing or tree guards around the trees, at least 3 feet high.
    • Place fencing under decks and porches to keep woodchucks from tunneling underneath.
    • If a woodchuck den exists on property, place an ammonia-soaked towel in its den. Used cat litter may also be effective as it smells strongly of ammonia. Moth balls cannot be placed in the den, as they are considered an insecticide.

    Removal tips

    • Groundhogs can be live trapped and released on landowner’s own property or humanely euthanized. Groundhogs may NOT be relocated off the property they were trapped.Remember that live traps must always be labeled with the trapper’s name and address.
    • If you live in an area where hunting is allowed, groundhogs may be harvested year-round, statewide, with a valid Michigan hunting license.
    • If you live in an area where firearms are allowed, groundhogs may be taken year-round on private property without a hunting license, when doing or about to do damage.
    • In areas where hunting and trapping is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
  • These impressive aerial hunters generally eat small mammals, birds and sometimes snakes. Hawks can become troublesome when they try to eat livestock, like chickens and quail. They may also defend their nests vigorously. When these nests are in highly traveled urban or suburban areas, they can cause harm to passersby. Hawks and owls are protected under federal law and may not be harmed.

    Prevention and Control tips:

    • Make sure outdoor poultry are kept in sturdy enclosures. Hawks are daytime hunters and will take chickens, quail and other birds.
    • Hawks and owls hunt from high perches. Whenever possible, remove perches near poultry enclosures.
    • Use noisemakers to try to scare hawks and owls away. Devices like air horns, banging pots and pans, or rattling rocks in a glass jar can be effective noisemakers.
    • Place visual stimuli like bird balloons, shiny mylar ribbon, or tape to startle hawks or owls away from your property.
    • If a hawk or owl is nesting in your neighborhood and exhibits defensive behavior, consider blocking off the area until the young birds fledge.
    • If the hawk or owl is threatening public safety, contact USDA Wildlife Services at 866-487-3297.
  • Herons and Egrets can become problematic for landowners with ponds containing fish and frogs, as they feed on these species. Herons and egrets are protected under federal law and may not be harmed.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Place a heron decoy in your pond. If it appears that a heron or egret is already feeding there, a heron may choose to leave and find another place to hunt.
    • Create many hiding places for fish within your pond, so that they can escape the probing beaks of herons and egrets. Use logs, large rocks, or other structures that fish can hide behind or underneath.
    • Use scare tactics like air horns, banging pots and pans, or a motion activated sprinkler to startle herons and egrets away.
    • Create obstacles around the pond that make it tricky for wading birds to navigate. String clear fishing line around the perimeter of the pond or place a decorative fence around the pond to keep wading birds out.
    • If the herons or egrets are threatening public safety, contact USDA Wildlife Services at 866-487-3297.
  • Migratory birds and songbirds are protected under federal law and may not be harmed. Please contact the USDA Wildlife Services (866-487-3297) for assistance with migratory birds causing damage to property or public safety risk at an airport or cellphone tower.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • If possible, remove food sources that may be attracting birds, like birdseed or grain.
    • Use noisemakers, like air horns or rattling rocks in a glass jar, to try to scare birds from their roosts.
    • Place visual stimuli like bird balloons, owl decoys, shiny mylar ribbon or tape to startle birds.
    • Wrap netting around fruiting trees to prevent birds from reaching the fruit.
    • Porcupine wire can be placed on roosting areas to deter birds from landing.
    • Creating ledges that are difficult to perch upon may also help. Angle ledges with wood or metal sheathing at 60 degrees to keep birds from perching on horizontal ledges.
  • One of Michigan’s larger rodents, muskrats live near lakes, slow-moving rivers, and marshes. Primarily eating aquatic vegetation, muskrats create problems for landowners when their underground burrows weaken shorelines, dikes, and riverbanks. They may also occasionally eat garden plants and crops.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Place fencing around gardens and crops to keep muskrats out. Fencing should be at least 3 feet tall and made of thick wire. Bury the fencing under the ground about 12 inches deep as well, to keep muskrats from digging under the fence.
    • Place fencing under docks, decks, and porches to keep muskrats from tunneling underneath.
    • Place rock or riprap on riverbanks or shorelines to prevent tunneling.

    Removal tips:

  • One of the world’s most aggressive waterfowl species, especially while nesting and raising their young, mute swans drive out native waterfowl and other wetland wildlife with their hostile behavior. Mute swans will chase native breeding birds from their nests.

    You and your neighbors can help protect Michigan’s natural resources by controlling invasive mute swans on your lakes and wetlands. Though hunting mute swans is not allowed, the DNR issues permits to remove mute swans and/or their nests and eggs. If you have mute swans on your property and wish to remove them or their nests and eggs, you must request a mute swan removal permit.

    Learn more about mute swans at Michigan.gov/MuteSwans.

  • Michigan’s only marsupial species, opossums, occur throughout the Lower Peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula. Opossums generally don’t cause property damage but will sometimes raid garbage or eat pet food. Occasionally, they will den under buildings or decks or under wood piles.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Remove food sources, like pet food, and ensure garbage is securely tucked in an animal-proof container. Put garbage out the morning of garbage pick-up rather than the night before.
    • Use noisemakers to try to scare opossums away. Devices like air horns, banging pots and pans, or rattling rocks in a glass jar can be effective noisemakers.
    • If an opossum is denning under your porch, place lattice up from the ground to the deck to keep the opossum out. You might also try placing an ammonia-soaked towel into the den opening. The unpleasant smell will draw the opossums out.
    • Opossums will sometimes climb into window wells and find themselves unable to climb out. Place a rough board into the well and allow the opossum to climb out.
    • If an opossum gets into your house, open the door and seal off exits into other rooms. Darken and leave the area. The opossum should find its way outside.

    Removal tips

    • If you live in an area where hunting is allowed, opossums may be hunted year-round with a valid Michigan hunting license.
    • In areas where hunting and trapping is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
    • Contact the Michigan Trappers & Predator Callers to see if they have anyone interested in trapping the opossum.
  • Eastern cottontail rabbits are common throughout Michigan. Snowshoe hares live in Northern Michigan and are well-adapted to the heavy snowfall and cold winters there. Rabbits and hares are herbivores and can cause damage to small landscape trees and shrubs. 

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Place metal flashing, hardware cloth, or tree guards around the trees or shrubs, at least 3 feet high (higher in areas with heavy snowfall) to prevent damage to the tree.
    • Remove brush piles, wood piles and low-hanging evergreen branches that may provide hiding places for rabbits and hares.
    • Place fencing around gardens and crops to keep rabbits and hares out. Fencing should be at least 3 feet tall and made of thick wire. Bury the fencing under the ground about 12 inches deep as well, to keep rabbits and hares from digging under the fence.

    Removal tips

    • If you live in an area where hunting is allowed, rabbits and hares may be taken in season (Sep. 15 – Mar. 31) with a valid Michigan base license. See the Hunting Digest for hunting regulations and bag limits.
    • In areas where hunting is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
  • It’s very common to spot a raccoon in an urban environment. Living near humans provides abundant food sources and cover for raccoons. They are well known for eating food scraps from the garbage and outdoor pet food. Occasionally, raccoons will enter homes, attics or garages, if given the opportunity. Raccoons are omnivores and eat a wide variety of foods. They generally spend the day sleeping in trees, but it’s common for them to try and den under buildings, decks or wood piles. Racoons can become a nuisance when they start to do damage to landscaped plants and yards when digging for bugs to eat. They also will feed on chickens and other small livestock.

    Prevention and control Tips

    • Remove food sources like pet food and ensure that garbage is securely tucked in an animal-proof container. Put garbage out the morning of garbage pick-up rather than the night before.
    • Fruits and vegetables in gardens can attract raccoons. Use fencing to protect gardens or individual plants from wildlife. A single or double strand hot-wire/electric fence may help discourage raccoons from gardens.
    • If a raccoon gets into an attic, use noise (loud radio, banging pots and pans) or ammonia-soaked rags to scare the raccoon out. Make sure to seal the opening through which the raccoon entered once the raccoon leaves.
    • To keep raccoons from climbing onto a roof, cut any tree limbs that overhang the roof. Also be sure to cap your chimney to keep raccoons from climbing in your fireplace.
    • Seal pet doors at night to keep raccoons from entering your house.
    • Raccoons will sometimes climb into window wells and find themselves unable to climb out. Place a rough board into the well and allow the raccoons to climb out.
    • Be sure all poultry livestock are in secure locations, especially at night and attempt to place all roosting areas away from fencing as raccoons are often able to reach through most wire fencing.

    Removal Tips

    • In areas where hunting is allowed, raccoons may be taken without a hunting license if they are doing or about to do damage.  
    • In areas where hunting and trapping is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
    • Contact the Michigan Trappers & Predator Callers to see if they have anyone interested in trapping the raccoon.
  • House sparrows, European starlings and rock doves/pigeons are species that can roost in large groups and create large messes under their roosts. These three species are not protected under federal law, as they are all species that were introduced to North America and are not native to Michigan’s ecosystem.

    Prevention and Control tips:

    • If possible, remove food sources that may be attracting birds, like birdseed or grain.
    • Use noisemakers, like air horns or rattling rocks in a glass jar, to try to scare birds from their roosts.
    • Place visual stimuli like bird balloons, owl decoys, shiny mylar ribbon or tape to startle birds.
    • Wrap netting around fruiting trees to prevent birds from reaching the fruit
    • Porcupine wire can be placed on roosting areas to deter birds from landing.
    • Creating ledges that are difficult to perch upon may also help. Angle ledges with wood or metal sheathing at 60 degrees to keep birds from perching on horizontal ledges.

    Removal Tips

    • If you live in an area where hunting is allowed, house sparrows and European starlings may be taken without a hunting license when doing or about to do damage to property.
    • Feral pigeons may be taken with a valid hunting license.
    • In areas where hunting and trapping is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
  • Standing 4 feet tall, sandhill cranes are impressive birds! Eating mostly plant matter, cranes can become agricultural and neighborhood pests. Cranes are protected under federal law and may not be harmed.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • If possible, remove food sources that may be attracting cranes, like birdseed or grain.
    • Use noisemakers, like air horns, banging pots and pans or rattling rocks in a glass jar, to try to scare cranes away.
    • Place visual stimuli, like bird balloons, shiny mylar ribbon or tape, to startle birds.
    • Protect young garden plants and crops with netting.
    • If the sandhill cranes are causing crop damage you may contact USDA Wildlife Services at 866-487-3297.
  • Though skunks are most commonly known for their strong musky smell, they also can cause damage to your property by digging up the lawn searching for grubs. Much like the raccoon, they are opportunistic eaters and have a varied diet. They will occasionally raid garbage, eat pet food, grubs, bugs, or anything else they deem edible. Occasionally, they will seek shelter and den under buildings, decks, and wood piles. Attacks from a skunk are very unlikely, considering their first line of defense is to spray. However, if a person or pet is bitten or comes into direct contact with the skunk, contact your local health department or veterinarian immediately. Skunks could carry and transmit rabies.

    Prevention and control tips

    • Remove food sources like bird feeders and pet food and ensure that garbage is securely tucked in an animal-proof container. Put garbage out the morning of garbage pick-up rather than the night before.
    • Check the yard before letting your dogs out at night. Make sure there are no skunks nearby that could potentially spray your pets.
    • If a skunk is denning under your porch, place lattice up from the ground to the deck to keep the skunk out. You might also try placing an ammonia-soaked towel into the den opening. The unpleasant smell will draw the skunks out.
    • Skunks will sometimes climb into window wells and find themselves unable to climb out. Place a rough board into the well and allow the skunk to climb out of the well.
    • If you suspect a person has been bitten by a skunk or has had direct exposure, contact your local health department. Skunks can transmit rabies to humans.
    • If you suspect a pet has been bitten by a skunk, contact your veterinarian. Skunks can transmit rabies to animals as well.
    • After speaking with the Health Department or veterinarian, collect the skunk specimen if it is dead and take it to them to determine if an exposure is suspected. If no exposure has occurred, collect the skunk specimen if it is dead and bring it to your local DNR office to be submitted for disease testing.

    Removal tips

    • If you find a skunk acting unusually or a dead skunk, please contact your local DNR office to submit it for disease testing.
    • If you live in an area where hunting or trapping is allowed, skunks may be hunted or trapped if they are doing or about to do damage on your property.
    • In areas where hunting and trapping is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
  • There are 18 species of snake in Michigan, only one of which is venomous. The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake is a federally threatened species and may not be captured or harmed. Sightings of the Eastern Massasauga are very rare. There are several snake species that look similar to the Eastern Massasauga, but only the Massasauga has a segmented rattle on the tail. Most of Michigan’s snakes keep to themselves and pose little threat to humans. They will sometimes hibernate in or near homes. Snakes eat mice, insects, and earthworms and therefore, can often be beneficial to have nearby. If you find a snake outside, leave it be and let the snake move away on its own. Typically, if a snake senses your presence it will move elsewhere.

    To learn more about each snake species, see our snakes page or check out our 60-Second Snake video series!

    Prevention and control tips:

    • Keep your landscape tidy. Remove tarps, rocks, wood, brush piles or anything else that might provide a sunbathing spot or covered shelter for a snake. Keep your grass mowed short.
    • Keep rodent populations under control. Sometimes snakes will hang around homes or outbuildings if mice are present.

    Removal Tips:

    • If a snake is in a building - watch this episode of 60-Second Snakes: Snake Removal
    • If the snake remains in an area that is frequently used, contain the snake (as seen in the snake removal video above) and move the snake to the closest natural habitat.
    • There should be no barriers between where the snake was found and where it is being relocated.
    • The snake may be moved a maximum of 800 feet or 250 meters from where it was found.
    • If you are unable to move the snake yourself, contact the Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453 for a list of volunteer snake responders or permitted wildlife pest control companies to assist in moving the snake.
    • Some species of snakes can be harvested. Please see the Fishing Guide for snake regulations.
  • Michigan is home to 9 squirrel species, from the tiny Eastern chipmunk to the sizeable woodchuck. Nearly any type of squirrel may find their way into your home through cracks or openings. They may also cause damage by chewing on siding or wires or raiding bird feeders. Some squirrel species are protected, but a few have hunting seasons. See the Hunting Digestfor squirrel hunting regulations.

    Squirrels in the attic or chimney

    • Monitor for entrance or exit holes.
    • Seal any secondary exits or entrances.
    • When the squirrel leaves, seal the entrance where the squirrel got in.
    • If the squirrel is in the chimney, run a rope, about a ½ inch in diameter down the chimney so that the squirrel may climb out. Ensure there are no squirrel pups left in the chimney and then seal the chimney with a cap.

    Squirrels in your home

    • Confine the squirrel to one room.
    • Open doors and windows and wait for the squirrel to leave.

    Removal tips

    • If you live in an area where hunting or trapping is allowed, red squirrels and ground squirrels (including woodchucks) may be hunted or trapped year-round with a valid Michigan hunting license. Fox and grey squirrels may be hunted Sept. 15 – Mar. 31 with a valid Michigan hunting license. Chipmunks may be trapped or taken at any time of the year.
    • In areas where hunting and trapping is not allowed, you may contact a nuisance animal control company.
  • Wild turkeys are increasingly common in urban and suburban areas. Male turkeys can become aggressive during breeding season in the spring. Males will also peck at their reflections, challenging the other male turkey that they see in shiny car paint, sliding doors and windows. If you encounter a turkey, do not run. Stand your ground, make loud noises, and back away slowly if the turkey does not leave.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • If possible, remove food sources, like birdseed or grain, that may be attracting turkeys. Check with neighbors to make sure they are not feeding the turkeys either.
    • Use noisemakers, like air horns, banging pots or pans, barking dogs, or rattling rocks in a glass jar, to try to scare turkeys.
    • Spraying a water hose near the turkeys or using motion detecting sprinklers may help keep them away.
    • Open and close an umbrella while walking toward the turkey to scare it.
    • If you live in an area where hunting is allowed, turkeys may be hunted in certain areas in the spring and the fall with a valid Michigan turkey license. See the spring and fall turkey hunting regulations on the DNR Digests page.
    • If the turkey is acting aggressively and you live in an area where hunting is not allowed, contact your local DNR office.

    Resources

  • Turkey vultures may roost in large groups and create large messes under their roosts. Turkey vultures are protected under federal law and may not be harmed.

    Prevention and Control tips:

    • Use noisemakers, like air horns or rattling rocks in a glass jar, to try to scare birds from their roosts.
    • Place visual stimuli like bird balloons, owl decoys, shiny mylar ribbon or tape to startle birds.
    • Porcupine wire can be placed on roosting areas to deter birds from landing.
    • Creating ledges that are difficult to perch upon may also help. Angle ledges with wood or metal sheathing at 60 degrees to keep birds from perching on horizontal ledges.
    • If the turkey vultures are threatening public safety, contact USDA Wildlife Services at 866-487-3297.
  • Michigan is home to eight woodpecker species. Eating mostly insects, woodpeckers can become a nuisance when they peck at wood siding on homes or outbuildings. Woodpeckers are protected under federal law and may not be harmed.

    Prevention and control tips:

    • If possible, remove food sources, like birdseed or suet, that may be attracting woodpeckers. An insect infestation in wood or wood siding may also be attracting the birds. Treat the infestation to prevent woodpecker damage or cover the damaged area with hardware cloth or sheet metal.
    • Use noisemakers, like air horns or rattling rocks in a glass jar, to try to scare woodpeckers.
    • Place visual stimuli near areas where woodpeckers are creating damage to deter pecking activity. Strips of cloth, shiny mylar ribbon or tape, and owl decoys can be effective.
    • Spraying a hose near the woodpecker or using motion detecting sprinklers may help keep them away.
    • Learn more about what to do when your house catches the attention of woodpeckers from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
    • If the woodpecker is causing property damage you may contact USDA Wildlife Services at 866-487-3297.

For wild mammals causing damage or a public safety risk at an airport, please contact your local DNR office. Please contact the USDA Wildlife Services (866-487-3297) for migratory birds causing damage or a public safety risk at an airport or cellphone tower.