As much as gardeners love the outdoors and the diversity of wildlife that call our region home, there are some parts of the yard and garden where we have to draw the line. With as much effort as we put into gardening and landscaping, we all know the sinking feeling of seeing what can happen seemingly overnight. In this episode of Granite State Gardening, UNH Extension’s Emma Erler and Nate Bernitz share proven tips and solutions for dealing with animals that can damage yards and gardens. Straddling the line between supporting wildlife and managing nuisance wildlife can be a challenging balancing act, but we share an approach that does just that. After listening, you will be equipped to prevent damage, and if necessary manage whichever critters take an interest in your gardens this growing season. We hope you will take away some new ideas, as well as what strategies not to spend time and money on.
· Featured Question: Growing garlic
· Featured Plant: Inkberry (Ilex glabra)
· Gardening Tip: Using Tree Guards
Email us questions, suggestions and feedback at email@example.com
Transcript by Otter.Ai
Nate Bernitz 0:00
Welcome to the Granite State gardening podcast from UNH Cooperative Extension. On today's show, we pivot to protecting our Yard and Garden from nuisance wildlife. We'll explore how to manage troublesome critters and also what not to do and why this episode is a bit lengthy, but we just couldn't bear to cut it down. Because it's an important topic worth devoting the time for. Whether you listen all at once or in chunks, you'll walk away with ideas on how to effectively control any nuisance wildlife challenge you face. There's also some great conversation about how we can support wildlife on our properties without inviting damage to our yards and gardens. Let's get into it.
Greetings, Granite State gardeners, I'm Nate Bernitz, joined as always by horticulturist and UNH extension field specialist Emma Erler. We're shifting just a bit from how to grow plants to an episode all about how to protect our plants from animals all too eager to help themselves to the parts of the yard where we just have to draw the line. Let's start broad on why we're talking about nuisance wildlife. I guess to put it really plainly, why can wildlife be a nuisance for me and for many granite staters, that's one of our favorite things about living in New Hampshire is all the wildlife around us. And as gardeners we also occasionally have moments where we deviate from that love of wildlife, we've all had those moments. But tell us about broadly speaking, some of the reasons why wildlife can be a nuisance
Emma E 1:53
in the garden wildlife are usually a problem because they're eating something that we have in the landscape. When we're talking about the vegetable garden, that could mean actually eating the produce that you have and most frustratingly eating fruits. So when we're growing those, I think a lot of people have probably had a chipmunk or something steal a tomato from them from their vegetable garden before. In the ornamental landscape. This often means browsing on herbaceous foliage during the summer, or in the winter months, chewing the bark off of trees and shrubs. And outside of actually damaging plants wildlife can have an impact to on on structures. And in terms of the lawn, or the the playing surfaces, we have in our yard, a lot of animals burrow, so it could be digging up the lawn or creating large holes, which are a hazard to people and pets.
Nate Bernitz 2:47
And I know everyone listening is thinking of very specific examples maybe from last year or recent years of a particular animal that caused an issue that just made your blood boil. And we're gonna get to specific animals and specific issues. But Emma, I have some general questions that I think are really important. And the first one relating to my first question is how can we protect our gardens and other examples, you talked about our lawns, our homes, our trees and shrubs while still supporting wildlife on our properties at large.
Emma E 3:26
I guess for me that starts with deciding what your goals are. If you really want to support wildlife in your landscape, a lot of times that means bringing in plants that they specifically use plants that produce fruits that birds and small mammals enjoy, perhaps plants that are particularly important for pollinators for their younger life cycles. But you know, if you're trying to, let's say, have the most perfect landscape possible where you don't want to see a single leaf tude on a single branch damage, or if you're growing a vegetable garden where you're actually trying to produce your own food and you're not trying to feed wildlife, then there can be an issue of course. So it's it's tough right to have a bit of both. I think what a lot of people end up doing is deciding what their threshold is. Like it might be okay if a couple berries disappear, but you still want to have some for yourself.
Nate Bernitz 4:22
For me a few examples come to mind. So for one thing, let's say you're growing apples, and you're really tired of the squirrels or deer or whatever are an issue for your apple tree, eating the apples off your tree. So you plant a crabapple will hopefully a disease resistant crabapple and you protect your apple trees in some way and make it really easy and appealing for the animals to enjoy the apples from your crabapple instead. And meanwhile the crabapple is still acting as a pollenizer for your apple tree so there can be potential Win Win solutions. The other thing is just considering maybe certain parts of the yard being kind of off limits for animals, but then the majority of the yard being for them. So you might think of some parts of your yard is where you're really landscaping for wildlife, whether it is pollinators, or other types of animals, and then some parts of your garden, you're going to really fortify and do the best you can to keep them out. The other thing that comes to mind, and I think this is going to be relevant in a variety of ways as we talk, but supporting predators that provide natural biological control for the animals that are causing issues for you, most of these predators are not going to be damaging your garden, right? trying to think of an example maybe a coyote could be an occasional pest, I suppose. But normally not. The exception, I guess, is if you're keeping backyard livestock, then the relationship you have to predators is more complicated. But if you're just growing crops, those animals are going to eat animals that you don't want your garden. So you want to do everything you can for them. But again, that leads me to my next question, which is the use of products that are designed to kill animals example being rodenticides, which are really common, and every store you go to that has garden supplies is gonna sell rodenticides, they come in a variety of forms. So I'm wondering, is there a safe way to use rodenticides? Do you recommend them as part of a gardeners approach to controlling pests in the landscape?
Emma E 6:47
rodenticides it's a very tricky subject, honestly, because there's a number of different active ingredients that go into these products. And the toxicity that they have to non target wildlife varies dramatically. So some rodenticides the active ingredients are very toxic to mammals, they might not be quite as harmful to birds, some are pretty toxic all the way across the board. And of course, a concern anytime you're using one of these poisons, because that's exactly what they are, you are potentially looking at a an issue where you are harming the animal that comes next in the food chain, right. So if if you're, let's say putting down a poison for voles or for mice, either in or around your house, if another animal eats that poisoned mouse, that poison vole, there's a chance that that animal is going to be injured worst case scenario killed. And this is a real concern, especially when we're talking about using baits outdoors, where there's even a greater chance that a non target animals is going to come across that poison directly. So that's something I think about. Definitely using using poison, I think for a lot of people feels like, I don't know, they the easiest option, because it's more or less out of sight out of mind, this animal comes and feeds on that bait, and then it dies someplace out of sight. Now, if that's outside, it seems like the problem has been totally managed. If it happens indoors, then you're dealing with the, you know, a smelly dead animal somewhere in your home. But regardless, that can definitely be an issue. And I have to say I'm not aware of any rodenticides at any poison, that's not going to have you know, any impact on another animal that eats it accidentally, or that eats that poison animal. Like I said, some are more poisonous than others. A lot of it depends on dose with how much is actually consumed. But definitely be concerned if you have pets around, be worried about harming other wildlife. And of course, if you have kids to be some of these products or peanut butter flavored or other, you know, flavors that might be or packaging that might be attractive to children as well. So not certainly not my first choice.
Nate Bernitz 9:12
Yeah, and I just think if you poison a vole, and a hawk eats that vole and dies, as a result, how many voles would that hawk have eaten for you if it hadn't been poisoned? So you're really working against yourself.
Emma E 9:29
Oh, absolutely. And I know there there's certain scenarios where rodenticides are appropriate. I mean, I think sometimes with a large farm operation, it might not be reasonable to trap all these animals but at a very small homeowner scale. I don't often think that the the poison is what we need to go for. Yeah, but like I said, there's a time and a place but for most of us with our backyard garden, I don't think they're necessary.
Nate Bernitz 9:54
And an alternative that I hear often brought up by gardeners is mothballs, which I think are thought of as not being a poison. They're thought of as kind of being an innocuous substance that you stick down the burrow of an animal and to takes care of your issue. But that's not my perspective. What do you think about mothballs?
Emma E 10:17
mothballs are actually an insecticide. So mothballs release a toxic gas, which will take care of insects, if you're putting that moth ball and in an enclosed chest or something like that to preserve your clothing, they are not intended for use to deter other animals, they're certainly not meant to be used outside and they they are toxic. And if a mothball is, is, you know, eaten by a non target animal, could be issues there, they're not labeled for that use. Like I said, mothball is, does actually contain insecticide and it's it's considered pesticide they're not intended for to be used, outdoors being tucked down animal Burrows, and it's not not a route, I would go.
Nate Bernitz 11:07
and yet another technique that people bring up. And I think people they think they're doing the right thing. And again, it's a system extended out of sight, out of mind thing. But live trapping, where you use, for example, just to name one brand a havahart trap. And you're able to bait that trap and capture that animal and bring it miles down the road to a field where you're imagining it will go on to live a happy life without harming your crops anymore. But again, it sounds better than it is right?
Emma E 11:49
Most definitely. I think one of the biggest issues with live trapping is that it's probably not quite as humane as we think it's going to be. Unless you're checking the trap constantly, you've got an animal that's stuck in this cage, and it's really cold, it's really hot, doesn't have any water. Of course, another problem there too, that I've seen happen fairly often is sometimes animals get fairly beat up inside of traps when they're trying to escape. And of course, when you actually go to move that animal, you're moving it outside of its its own territory. So now you're dumping it into potentially the territory of another individual. So it's already going to be in conflict potentially with other with other individuals of its species, it's going to be totally disoriented. And that mean, the whole process of being moved in general is really stressful on that animal. And if it does survive this ordeal, more often than not, they try really, really hard to make it home. So they get hit by cars become a nuisance on somebody else's property. And it's typically not a great scenario for that animal. So, you know, it seems like a really good thing for I think a lot of homeowners that are having conflicts with wildlife. But more often than not, it's not the best thing for that animal. And another thing I should mention, too, is that if you are going to move an animal someplace else, you need to have permission from the landowner, where you're going to be releasing that animal. And it's it's not okay to just drop an animal off in any other location. Even if it's a public park, you need to get permission to do that.
Nate Bernitz 13:34
And yet another option, I don't really have issues with this option, Asides from efficacy, but the use of various repellents. And my understanding is some are going to be more effective than others. And I think there are a lot of products that are for sale that just aren't necessarily effective. And we don't want people to waste money on products that don't work. But what are your thoughts on repellents in general? And then specifically, what types of repellents would you consider to be the most effective?
Emma E 14:09
when it comes to repellents, I think they work best when you don't have super high animal pressure, meaning there isn't a huge population, and there's plenty of food around for the animal to eat, you know things that aren't your garden plants. There are a couple of different types of repellents, that I mean, the two main categories are taste repellents and smell repellents. Taste repellents, of course require the animal to actually eat the plant in order to be turned away from it driven away from it. A lot of times capsaicin like hot pepper is used, you know, I don't see these working all that well. Like I said, Maybe if there are plenty of other things for that animal to eat, having a little bit of a spicy meal, you know, we'll turn them off from that particular plant, but in a lot of cases, it seems like animals just I don't know get a taste for the hot pepper or they're hungry enough. that it doesn't matter. The other option is a smell repellent. And these kind of fall into a couple different camps too. So they're botanicals. So like garlic oil, or let's say rosemary oil, when people use these to put on plants to either mask the scent of them or to make them on attractive, probably what's more effective is actually using something that triggers a fear response in the animal. So that's like predator urines, putrescent egg solid, sometimes like slaughterhouse waste. And there's, there's a lot of, you know, different formulations out there are different products, those tend to work better. But again, you know, these these work best if there's plenty of other food around for the animal to eat, if animals are really hungry and desperate, it's probably not going to matter whether you put that repellent on or not. And with repellents, you do need to reapply rain is going to diminish their effectiveness, and just time as well. So you have to you have to keep applying them. Some of them, those ones that work really well that are, let's say made out of rotten eggs. Yeah, they're not pleasant for you either. One.
Nate Bernitz 16:12
A lot of people are thinking about repellants, specifically for deer. And another strategy for managing deer or using deer resistant landscaping, deer resistant plants. I'm wondering one, is there anything to the use of deer resistant plants? Is that going to keep deer away in general or just keep deer from feeding on that particular plant? And are there plants that are resistant to other types of wildlife too. And then, of course plants that are particularly appealing to wildlife.
Emma E 16:47
Typically, when you when you're talking about deer resistant plants, that means the animal or the deer won't feed on that particular plant. I'm not really aware of any plants that just by their proximity will keep deer totally away from the garden. In general, there'll be a couple plants that deer just really don't prefer, they typically don't feed on unless they're desperate. But if there's something else nearby that they do, like, they will feed on that heavily. And there's definitely you know, with other wildlife too there, there are certainly things that plants that they prefer plants they tend to leave alone, I can definitely think of certain trees and shrubs. Let's say that voles tend to attack and others where I've seldom seen damage. And I would guess that the you know, same would go for for squirrels you know, for woodchucks every everybody's got favorites, right things that they prefer. The thing that's kind of interesting, with deer, I think in particular is that they are quite picky when food is in abundance. So when there's plenty of natural food, or let's say, you know, your neighbor has a nice garden that's not protected at all, they will leave certain plants alone, but when they get really, really desperate, the number of things that they'll eat grows wider. So they'll they will eventually browse on some of those plants that at one point were deemed totally deer proof. But if they're hungry enough, they will eventually eat those two. Since we're talking deer, I guess I can certainly would it be helpful if I listed a couple plants that deer really like? And some they don't?
Nate Bernitz 18:29
Yeah, I think that would be helpful. And I must say you saying there are plants that various other animals like and don't like feels like a tease. And I know there's not time really to go through every plant that every animal likes and doesn't like but I'm wondering just generally how you would go about finding that information.
Emma E 18:52
There are definitely lists online of plants that deer really like versus plants that deer don't like a lot of it in terms of like herbaceous plants. So let's just say the vegetable garden pretty much everything in the vegetable garden wildlife will enjoy. So we're almost always talking about fencing or something to keep animals out the vegetable garden. But in in an ornamental setting. One plant group that we're always thinking about in terms of wildlife preference are the bulbs. So if you'd like to plant spring blooming bulbs, you're probably going to want to think about which ones animals prefer which ones they don't, by and large chipmunks, squirrels, voles, even deer will completely ignore daffodils. But they love Love, love tulips. They will bother crocus occasionally, not always, but they'll pretty much always leave an ornamental onion alone. A few others, you might mix in their glory of the snow, chionodoxa usually gets ignored by animals same with Siberian squill don't have worry about that you might have some issues, you know, perhaps some of the the native bulbs like claytonia, which are edible for people too. So if you are definitely having issues with wildlife, I'd say stay away from the tulips go with daffodils instead. Usually rodents, rabbits and deer tend to be the biggest issue in landscape plantings in over the winter months, when there aren't a lot of food sources available. So they will feed heavily on trees and shrubs. There are definitely preferences that these animals have. So if we're talking about voles, they really like fruit trees. So keep that in mind. They also really seem to enjoy Juniper. For whatever reason, Juniper often gets chewed up by voles over the winter with deer. Deer absolutely love yew. They really like Hollies for some reason, and they will often feed on Apple and Rhododendron, they're much less likely to bother pines. I've rarely seen them bother Oaks. Oh, and I mentioned I should mention that they really like as are providing and of course, when herbaceous plants are growing during the summer, too, I think most people are probably familiar with the fact that deer Love, love, love hostas. So if you have a lot of deer around, you're probably not going to have a lot of luck with hosta.
Nate Bernitz 21:28
Okay, thanks for giving some examples. And I know there are many more, but that gives everyone a taste for some of those dynamics and you can seek out more information online. Something that this leads to though, for me is how do you actually identify the animal that's causing issues? You know, I know that I've often seen damage before I've seen the animal and can actually identify the culprit. First of all, some animals are nocturnal or doing their damage at night. Even for animals that are doing damage during the day, they typically don't like to be seen because that makes them vulnerable to predators. Obviously deer somewhat of an exception to that and woodchucks seem to be somewhat of an exception, they seem to not really care about being seen, at least in my perspective, they just kind of waddle around. Like they have no cares in the world, which I am quite jealous of seems like a woodchuck with proximity to a garden that that's as good as it gets. But what tips do you have generally for identifying what wildlife is causing a particular issue from looking at the damage?
Emma E 22:41
Yeah, it's all about looking for signs. So that's looking at, you know, how the animal actually bit off the plant tissue or how it chewed on it. And if you're lucky, you might actually find bits of hair or droppings left behind by the critter to might as well just go over some of the basics here. If we're looking at damage, let's say to a woody plant, usually spring time is when we're seeing damage that happened over the winter. If you're seeing some sort of of chewing that happened to the the bark of the tree, you're going to want to look at the actual you know pattern of those chewing marks. If they're fairly rough and irregular, going all around the base of the trunk, you've probably looking at vole damage, voles tend to chew and every, every direction, there's different size, chunks or peelings taken away, you're probably not going to see droppings either from a vole whereas if it's a bunny, the chewing tends to be a little bit more uniform cleaner, and they often nip the ends of branches off very cleanly at a 45 degree angle. And if you've have rabbits feeding in the area, you will almost certainly see they're very round droppings in the vicinity of your plant. If it's a deer, rabbits and deer will prune off the ends of branches. If it's a deer, typically the tissue it looks like it's been roughly cut. So there might be some strings of bark leftover it just kind of looks like it was broken or hacked off. Look for that and of course be looking for deer pellets to that you if there have been active in your yard, typically there will be lots of droppings around and some of it's just going to be seasonality too, right. So I just listed a bunch of animals that are active year round, so in the winter months, but if you're looking at damage, let's say to your vegetable garden, in the middle of the summer, you might just be thinking about you know who else might be active. So woodchucks become a possibility. Once things warm up in the spring interactive all season and deer again with herbaceous plants are going to be chewing on stuff so that it just looks roughly cut
Nate Bernitz 24:48
and one kind of interesting issue I've run into in the vegetable garden. Sometimes you see a vegetable kind of cut at the base. And not only could that be From an animal, it could be from cutworm. How do you tell the difference between cut worm damage and damage from an animal?
Emma E 25:08
Yeah, that's a tough one, right? Typically what a cut worm cuts off the top of a plant, that top of that plant is going to be laying there on the soil next to that cuts down. Whereas if an animal bedded off, that's going to be long gone, because they ate the tender growth on the top of that stem course, there's always exceptions. But that's probably what I'd be thinking, if the tops of all the all my bean plants, let's say are laying there, probably cut worms. Otherwise, if they're all missing, I'd say some other wildlife species came through,
Nate Bernitz 25:39
I was just looking at a picture earlier today that you sent me straight on, I was thinking that bark, peeling off of a tree, to me looked like it might have been from an animal and you pointed out that there really wasn't any evidence of animal damage there and that it was just more an issue with the health of the tree. So that's another thing is just because something is damaged, doesn't mean that an animal caused it.
Emma E 26:06
very good point, particularly I think on on trees and shrubs. When bark starts falling off of things, you might immediately be thinking that an animal did it, but sometimes there's damage from climactic conditions. So hard freeze winter winds, you know, who knows, but definitely be looking for signs of teeth marks.
Nate Bernitz 26:29
I think it was last summer when there were a lot of branches falling out of oak trees. Sometimes it was from maybe squirrels, but sometimes it was from an insect, right?
Emma E 26:40
Yeah, yeah, that was really cool. Yeah, there's a insect called a twig pruner that was clipping the ends off of oak oak branches. But squirrels will do that, too. Sometimes they'll clip branches out of trees. So that really relies on on your close observational skills. If you're seeing a lot of squirrel activity in a particular tree could be a squirrel. If you're not gonna be it could be an insect thing.
Nate Bernitz 27:16
Okay, I want to actually take a little break and bring in a featured question that has nothing to do with this conversation. But we really appreciate people reaching out to us by email at GSG.firstname.lastname@example.org. And your featured question or featured plant rather in the last episode was on garlic, and we got a great question from Larry about growing garlic. So Larry asks, he planted garlic last fall and mulched it with straw, which is great. The straw has packed down over the winter. And he now sees green garlic plants pushing through it - also great. He's wondering if he should throw some more mulch on to protect that garlic, or simply leave it be. And I would just add to Larry's question, what else should he be doing for that garlic?
Emma E 28:05
at this point in the season. So let's see Today is April 7. So before beginning of April, seeing garlic coming up is something I'd be excited about. It isn't something I'd be worrying about. The big reason you're putting that mulch over the garlic when you plant it in the fall is actually just to give it some extra protection to protect those bulbs from getting too too cold over the winter months, there's really no need to put any more mulch on at this point. I am very hopeful that we don't have any more deep deep freezes ahead of us that we aren't expecting any more snow. Worst case scenario, if we get some bad weather at this point, those those leaf tips might get a little bit damaged from cold, but it's not going to harm the plant overall. So having you know just a couple of inches of burn foliage is perfectly fine. And that really goes for any bulb, not just garlic. So as long as the mulch isn't too thick in the spring and you're seeing some of that new growth coming up, no need to put any more mulch down. I would keep some mulch in place though, because that's going to help suppress weeds as time goes on. terms of you know what else you're doing going forward, I have a feeling that watering is going to be a concern again this year. It's already been a pretty dry season or dry spring. So be paying attention to how much water we've got gotten. You might need to be irrigating your garden, irrigating your garlic, garlic definitely likes a consistently moist soil not wet, but moist, be thinking about watering. If you didn't put any fertilizer down in the fall when you planted your garlic you might be thinking about fertilizing too, and ideally that's going to go alongside with soil test results.
Nate Bernitz 29:52
Well, and I guess I would just add a little caveat to that. It really depends on whether you use a slow release fertilizer in the fall. That might still be working for you in the spring. If you use something that wasn't slow release, I know that we might recommend using quick acting liquid fertilizer once the garlic starts to grow in the spring to give it a little boost.
Emma E 30:15
Yeah. So hopefully you took notes about what you what you did in your garden in the fall. And you can you can go from there. But yeah, once once you see probably just a little bit more growth and things really start to warm up, it might be helpful to use that fertilizer that Nate mentioned.
Nate Bernitz 30:32
Okay, well, thanks, Larry for the question and keep them coming, we're going to feature your questions on every episode of the podcast. This kind of a controversial issue, Emma is feeding wildlife. On one hand feeding wildlife is, is really exciting everything from bird feeding, to putting out food for for deer, or so many things that people like to do for the thrill of seeing wildlife in their backyard, as well as thinking that they're helping, right giving animals food that they need. But there's, I think, multiple reasons why you might think twice. For one thing, you might be bringing wildlife to your yard, that could become a nuisance, but there are other reasons too, right?
Emma E 31:26
Yeah, one thing I think of right off the bat is the potential for disease transmission, when you were bringing a whole lot of animals together potentially in a density that you wouldn't otherwise See, disease can always be a concern, you might also be bringing in animals that you weren't intending to feed, that can become a nuisance. So a lot of times with bird feeders, you might end up with rodent issues. With that spilled seed on the ground, you know, even if you have the best possible bird feeders that that squirrels or or rats can't access, there's still going to be spilled feed on the ground. And there's potential for issues there. And then, you know, there's there's always the thought that it might not be the best thing for animals to to always be in close contact with people, in terms of, you know, getting too used to people of getting too tame and becoming a nuisance. And, you know, particularly let's say with wildlife, like bears, it's a bad thing for a bear if it gets used to being close to people if it gets used to eating a food source that people are leaving out.
Nate Bernitz 32:35
And there are some legal restrictions, right, in terms of what you can and can't do. Dealing with nuisance wildlife. Can you just briefly go over those. So we're covering our bases there?
Emma E 32:48
Yeah. So there, there are definitely certain species that are protected in some way, or there might be a particular season. So of when it's okay to harvest set animals. If you think this particularly comes into play, if you're if you're trapping, or if you're shooting, I would say you know, if you have any sort of nuisance wildlife issue, you know, rather than just go out and try to take care of it on your own, I think it makes a lot of sense to either get in touch with your local fish and game officer or contact USDA Wildlife Services. USDA Wildlife Services is specifically chartered with helping deal with nuisance wildlife. And of course, they're dealing with farm scale issues, but they'll also give homeowners advice as well and let you know exactly what it's okay to do what it's okay not to do probably give you tips on what the most humane option is, you know, in some cases, may be actually able to, you know, help you out more substantially with, you know, loaning fencing or something of the sort. So get in touch, see what the advices before you get yourself into trouble
Nate Bernitz 34:01
on you mentioned protected species. Birds certainly come to mind there.
Emma E 34:05
Yeah, you can't, can't be out just taking out birds. Even if they are a nuisance,
Nate Bernitz 34:11
like my last question before we really dive into how to manage particular animals is what to do when you have humanely? What's the word? euthanized? An animal or maybe there's a better word you can use. But say you've set out traps, and you've caught a dead animal. What should you actually do with that? It's it's not a question you might think of right up until you have to deal with it.
Emma E 34:37
Yeah, absolutely. And it is something you have to think about. And you should be thinking about before you actually dispatch an animal. There are a few different options and it might be worthwhile for you to check out what your local ordinance would prefer, probably the, I don't know, most acceptable method to get rid of a dead animal. In particular, if you it suspect that an animal might be diseased is to bury it. And if you bury it two feet down is a pretty good likelihood that scavengers won't come by and dig it up and bother in any way. If you are burying it, you do want to make sure that you're right not right next door to drinking water supply. So know where your well is. And don't be burying animals anywhere near there. In some cases, if you have a lot of property, it might be okay to just leave that animal out in the open. This is as long as you didn't, you know, kill it with some sort of poison or rodenticide. In that case, you certainly don't want to leave that out. But you know, leaving it at the edge of the woods, for scavengers to find is perfectly acceptable in a lot of scenarios. And of course, actually, disposing of an animal in a landfill can be an acceptable option too. And typically, if you do that, you do want to have it either in a sealed plastic bag, or some sort of container, just to help mitigate odor at the transfer station or with your your local trash pickup. No matter which of these options you choose. You do want to be careful handling that animals too, because there is always a chance for disease transmission, there are a whole lot of different diseases out there that can be spread from animals to people. So try to limit contact as much as possible. And if you do have to touch a dead animal, then wear gloves,
Nate Bernitz 36:26
but generally you don't need to report a dead animal, right? Like, say you find a dead bird in your yard?
Emma E 36:33
Generally No. If you have reason to suspect that the animal might have died from a disease or if it just doesn't look healthy. For some reason. Certainly, I'd report that to fishing game or USDA Wildlife Service's, but uh, you know, in many cases, especially if, if you kill the animal yourself on your property, there's no need to report that. And I
Nate Bernitz 37:00
think my last tip would be if you're leaving an animal just out on your property, make sure to be a good neighbor.
Emma E 37:07
Absolutely, yes, as I said, a large property. So this is on you squarely on your own land where there isn't going to be any odor or any sort of nuisance issues with other predators or scavengers coming in and feeding on that carcass.
Nate Bernitz 37:23
And again, I know I keep teasing, yes, we're going to get right into the animals. But I wonder, to what extent are nuisance wildlife issues going to get worse, as we see land get developed? And maybe this is explanatory of nuisance wildlife issues, maybe becoming worse, too? What are your general reflections on that? And is there even any potential link to like a changing climate,
Emma E 37:59
I think there's definitely going to be more conflicts with people and animals, as the landscape continues to become more and more fragmented. When you build a house on a, you know, piece of land that was formerly forested, or just an open field in New Hampshire, you're displacing a fair amount of wildlife, those animals have to eat something they're still trying to live. And so it's likely that they're, they're going to be feeding on the plants that you're trying to grow around your house, I would absolutely expect that, you know, if you're a few people in New Hampshire are living really in true remote wilderness at this point, you know, a lot of people might just have, you know, at most, maybe an acre or two, there's a lot of animals that are that are still going to be on that tract of land that still need to make a living somehow. So I do think those conflicts are, you know, potentially getting more common will will continue to be common, because they're they're just trying to make a go of out there too.
Nate Bernitz 39:01
And this is why think landscaping for wildlife is so important, because if not on your property, in many cases, were also they supposed to go?
Emma E 39:10
Yeah, I mean, that about sums that up. Where else are they supposed to be? And I think having wildlife around is one of the best things about living in New Hampshire.
Nate Bernitz 39:18
Okay, switching gears. I want to spend a few minutes talking about our treasured rodents. So of the animals that often become a nuisance, which one of them are rodents, and then we'll get into some strategies for managing them.
Emma E 39:37
The rodent order is pretty big. And that includes mice, rats, voles, chipmunks, squirrels, wood chucks, and even porcupines. Oh, I should, I should say beavers too. these are these are all technically rodents. So you, you know, more or less. We're looking at herbivores in this group. are omnivores. And in terms of damage typically seeing knowing or chewing on things. Rabbits are actually not rodents, although they're often kind of put into that group. Same goes for moles. moles are not rodents either, although I think they're often confused as such, probably just based on size
Nate Bernitz 40:21
one for moles is that part of the reason why rodenticides typically aren't effective with them.
Emma E 40:29
I think in part, I think a bigger issue too is that moles aren't likely to eat a bait that's meant for other rodents. Or I should say for rodents, so like a peanut butter, flavored bait, or corn flavored bait, or something is not going to be particularly interesting to a mole, which is an insect theater.
Nate Bernitz 40:49
So when it comes to these rodents, and there may be differences between some of them, I would think maybe the rodents of unusual times, it might be a little bit different than some of the animals that really come to mind first when you think of rodents, like mice or voles, but what are some strategies you can use to make the areas around your gardens less appealing for them,
Emma E 41:12
one of the first things I think you can do, and it's probably the easiest is trying to eliminate habitat for them, particularly around areas where they tend to be very active. So around, let's say, the vegetable garden around trees and shrubs. What this means typically is reducing cover voles and mice and chipmunks to need someplace where they can scurry away where they can hide. And so for a vole that would often mare particularly like a meadow vole that would mean tall grasses. So keeping your your lawn and garden mowed consistently is going to be really helpful if that vole is still going over to your garden. If it is moving between trees and shrubs, it's just going to be more vulnerable to predators that way where it doesn't have any place to hide. And I guess also, I could say what being careful with mulching, too, because certain mulches can also provide good habitat for smaller rodents. So particularly on trees and shrubs, you don't want to be piling up tons of mulch right up against the trunks of those plants, because it's going to give these animals a place to hide, plus, it's not healthy for the tree or shrub to begin with,
Nate Bernitz 42:22
you know, I think to about how quickly some of these animals reproduce. And so when I think about setting reasonable expectations, not thinking about totally eliminating an animal like of all, but really limiting their populations, which is a challenge, considering just how quickly more voles are being born? How do you think about that just setting goals for control of some of these animals?
Emma E 42:52
Yeah, like you said, it's definitely not going to be reasonable to think that you're going to completely eliminate these animals from the landscape, there's always going to be some about, I think, having some sort of threshold established for what can be tolerated in your landscape and what can't. So clearly, if you have fruit trees, any sort of girdling of that trunk is not going to be tolerable, which, you know, there are things you can do to exclude these animals from ever reaching the trunk. But you know, excessive excessive damage where plants are getting killed, is not tolerable, but having a little bit of light feeding here and there, I think is something that, you know, we just have to accept whether that means a few strawberries disappearing in the case of say chipmunks, but not every single fruit. So you still have something to harvest. I think it's fine. But if you're losing your entire harvest, if plants are dying, then that means that some sort of action needs to be taken.
Nate Bernitz 43:53
Yeah. So let's talk about action. And let's just go through these. So what are you looking at as far as actions that are going to be most effective for controlling vole populations, by and large,
Emma E 44:05
excluding them from accessing the plants that you're trying to protect is gonna be important voles, I think are most damaging with permanent plantings, which I would say are trees and shrubs. So putting some sort of tree guard around the base, particularly with young plants is really important. So you can make these yourself out of galvanized hardware cloth, which is basically a metal mesh that you can pick up at any hardware store, making a cylinder with that that's at least 18 inches high. 24 would be better given us no amounts in New Hampshire. Closing that up with with wire is perfect. So basically, you just have this cylinder that's dug into the soil by an inch or two that surrounds the trunk of that plant, and keeps that vole from being able to even access the bark of that tree. So it can't it can't possibly girdle that tree and there if if you're not up for making you know, a guard yourself. You can purchase these commercially as well that are meant for protecting trees. And then the mowing, like I mentioned keeping things mowed close and not over mulching is really important.
Nate Bernitz 45:14
And if you do need to trap bowls, let's say, because they're damaging your vegetable garden. And it's pretty tough to keep voles out of a vegetable garden, right? Unless you're burying fencing. I'm not sure, maybe you know how deep you'd have to do that to actually keep them out. But how might you trap them? If you didn't need to
Emma E 45:35
with a vole? I don't think you'd be excluded very easily. If you have to trap them. I think that just a snap trap like a mouse trap is perfect for a vole. It's the right size. And voles are fairly likely to use them if you put if you set up the mousetrap in an area where they they frequent. So are they run through that's covered in some way. So they're more likely to go to that trap. If you've put a board or a shingle or something over top that creates some cover that doesn't interfere with that, that lever arm that's actually going to kill the animal. And for voles, you know, bait that pretty much works for everybody is peanut butter. But you can also use, I'm told a very fragrant piece of Apple stuck on that trap,
Nate Bernitz 46:20
would you say it's important? switch out baits to move traps? I mean, to what extent are these animals getting quickly used to what you're doing? And are they able to, to figure out your strategy and evade these traps
Emma E 46:35
with something like a vole? If you're catching animals in one particular location, I don't know how important it is to really be moving traps around or or baiting them with different things you seem to just keep catching on. It's something to keep in mind to this really goes for any sort of wildlife control. If you're whether you're trapping, shooting, what have you, if you have really ideal habitat, if you get rid of one animal, it's just opening up a spot for a next for the next. So they tend to keep showing up. And in
Nate Bernitz 47:07
terms of locating traps, I hear people talk about locating those active runways, I find that's actually not easy, necessarily.
Emma E 47:17
It's not so simple. For voles. Anyways, it's easy to tell where those active runways are in the springtime, because a lot of times they'll be little tunnels through the grass. But once we're into the growing season, you're probably not going to see anything like that. So in that case, if you have some sort of fence or a stone wall or something, a lot of times small animals will run along that structure. So right on the base of the fence right on the basis stone wall or the house or whatever, rather than run way out in the open. So setting up a trap in that location might yield a little bit more success. And another
Nate Bernitz 47:53
animal that's very difficult to exclude, but for a different reason. Our chipmunks and squirrels I mean squirrels are incredible athletes. Their ability to climb and jump makes it very difficult to keep them out of somewhere and anyone growing stay peaches knows that all too well. Right. So what kind of damage you used to seeing generally with chipmunks and squirrels, and what options do you have,
Emma E 48:21
they're tough, right, because they can climb. Usually chipmunks and squirrels are bothering fruits. So or if you have a nut tree, they're bothering the nuts. But with apples peaches, you'll be seeing big chunks or non marks taken out of that fruit, which is unacceptable for most of us where we want her fruit to be untouched by a squirrel, it's going to be really hard to keep those animals out with any sort of fencing difficult if not impossible, because they can climb and they can jump and they can burrow so well. So instead, you really are just relying on trapping, whether that means with a live trap, so a hardstyle trap or using something a little bit larger, like a rat trap, a snapping trap. And there are other you know setups to where you people use use buckets and different setups where you can actually catch an animal and drown it all sorts of different ways to go about doing this. I guess you just have to come up with what you find acceptable
Nate Bernitz 49:25
to what extent Yeah, for strawberries, maybe something like row cover or for fruit trees or bushes something like bird netting To what extent might strategies like that work? You
Emma E 49:34
know, I don't know how well those would work for rodents and I've honestly never seen them applied. They work really well for birds, but we're talking about animals that can climb really well and chew. Can I I've certainly had issues before with with squirrels, chipmunks, mice chewing into wooden sheds like making holes right through doors wooden doors to get to a food source or a nesting place. So I don't know how well that would work.
Nate Bernitz 50:02
And then there are woodchucks, which we've already talked about a little bit, but what checks actually are an animal that fencing can work for particularly electric fencing, per my understanding for dedicated areas of a vegetable garden. Right? So, how do you manage what jocks went when they are an issue?
Emma E 50:21
Yeah, I think for a lot of people, if this is allowed, where you live, shooting is often one of the more humane ways to deal with woodchucks. There are a lot of ways to trap them to, but excluding them from your garden, like you mentioned, is probably my first choice, because I think they're cute. I think they're cool animals, that electric fence is going to work really well. Of course, it's got to be fairly close to the ground. So you need to have that wire, that low lower, most wire, probably no more than 16 inches off the ground. And you need to have multiples, because remember which checks can climb they are essentially, you know, large squirrels. You can also if you really you know, if you're worried about kids or pets, and you don't want to go the electric route, you can have a just a static fence that works for woodchucks, too, what you're going to need to do, though, is have part of it buried. So I'd say probably like a 12 inch section of mesh that bends outwards away from your garden, probably a, you know, two to three foot tall upright section. So that part that's on the bottom is going to be buried by a couple inches of soil, two to three foot upright section with an overhang of mesh, which again, goes outwards. So if that animal is trying to climb up that mesh, it hits the ceiling, that it would then have to, you know, climb out and around and with Chuck's aren't that good at climbing that would thwart them. If there's, let's say, a 12 inch overhang or so
Nate Bernitz 51:51
that actually sounds pretty complicated, though I'm not sure I would be willing to devote the energy to create something quite like that, is that really as hard as it sounds?
Emma E 52:02
I mean, it would definitely be some effort that would go into it. I mean, a big part of it's just gonna be bending mesh, if you're looking for probably just a more general attractive option that's going to keep deer out rabbits out to having just that buried section of fencing is helpful. Having that mesh go outwards, go down as well as out is helpful. Because if that animal tries to dig, it's just gonna keep hitting that barrier. And hopefully it's going to give up as opposed to just one piece of mesh that goes straight down into the soil. So if he's persistent enough, he just gets right underneath it and can get into the garden.
Nate Bernitz 52:36
How do you actually trench that? Because in a big garden, are you really just digging that out with a shovel that talk about a lot of work?
Emma E 52:45
Yeah, I mean, if if you're lucky, you might have a trenching shovel that makes it a little bit easier, but definitely a lot of work for sure. Which I think is why a lot of people ultimately defer to, let's say, 22. They're dealing with what checks right
Nate Bernitz 53:02
if they can't use electric fence and electric fencing. You can either go with wire strands or something like a netting.
Emma E 53:09
Oh, that's true. And I know that's what you're trying.
Nate Bernitz 53:12
Yeah, well, we'll see how that works this year. And another animal that can climb our porcupines. They're quite adept at climbing, but I don't really think a porcupine so much as a pest of vegetables as much as fruit. So we often recommend people fence off their fruit plantings mostly for deer. But is there anything you can do with that deer fencing to also keep porcupines from climbing over
Emma E 53:38
an electric fence is going to be a good option again, especially if there are low wires that porcupine is not going to be able to get underneath without getting zapped. porcupines do I mean, they spend most of their time up in trees and when they're on the ground, they're usually just moving between trees. When people are having the most issues with porcupines on their fruit trees. It's because they're probably they're probably located near a woodland area, or more heavily forested area where there is more habitat for that animal. But I think electric fences is probably your best option. And even that's going to be tricky and kind of expensive. So I guess I wouldn't go ahead and be putting all this effort into keeping porcupines out unless I know porcupines are are indeed an issue in my area.
Nate Bernitz 54:28
Do you think of them as being primarily nocturnal?
Emma E 54:30
Well, you can see them active during daytime hours, but more often than not, I think a lot of the damage occurs at night
Nate Bernitz 54:37
and make something like shooting more of a challenge with porcupines because they're operating at night.
Emma E 54:43
Definitely does. Yeah, I mean, I occasionally see them during daytime hours, but I think they're probably a little bit more active under the cover of darkness.
Nate Bernitz 54:52
I guess maybe the good news with porcupines is that they're often not issues and more seldom issues they're not maybe coming to your furniture is day after day after day. It's kind of a the occasional hit. Although when they do hit, it's often pretty devastating.
Emma E 55:10
It is. Yeah. So like some of these other animals we've mentioned, they chew the bark off of trees, so they may eat some of the leaves. But the bigger issue is that they're killing branches.
Nate Bernitz 55:18
Yeah. And I know sometimes for small home orchard plantings, people may actually protect individual trees, which I think probably could help with porcupines quite a bit.
Emma E 55:30
Yeah, it's all it's all a matter of scale, right? This whole this whole, you know, protection deal becomes a lot easier. And we're talking about just a couple of trees as opposed to, you know, 10 or more,
Nate Bernitz 55:42
right, if you have two peach trees, and you're actually able to keep them healthy and productive. For a lot of people, that is plenty.
Emma E 55:51
Totally. Yeah, more than enough,
Nate Bernitz 55:53
I guess moving past our rodents. You mentioned how rabbits and moles are not rodents. In New Hampshire, we do have one native and endangered species right of rabbit, but for the most part because of the endangered status of the New England Cottontail. We're mostly dealing with another rabbit and they can be quite numerous and quite an issue, right?
Emma E 56:19
Yeah, Eastern cottontails. Especially in the southern half of New Hampshire, particularly Southern New Hampshire, Eastern cottontails can be quite destructive in gardens, and this is year round, so damage over the winter months, as well as damage during the growing season, particularly in perennial borders and vegetable gardens.
Nate Bernitz 56:42
I often hear about rabid damage, particularly in the seacoast, so Southeastern New Hampshire. I'm sure they are an issue out west as well. But I most often hear from people on the seacoast region, what strategies will work for rabbits in your experience?
Emma E 56:59
I think one of the best things you can do for rabbits is using some of those tree guards, like I mentioned, for the voles, those will work on your fruit trees, as well as some of your ornamentals and your shrubs for rabbits just as well as they will for Meadow vole, having those guards be a bit higher. So going for two feet, as opposed to let's say, you know, 12 inches is going to be good and having that mesh be, let's say, at least half an inch, probably no more than half an inch in diameter, so that nobody's going to be able to squeeze through. Otherwise, for bunnies outside of protecting individual plants. Having a fence around your whole garden, particularly, let's say your vegetable garden can be really helpful. And rather than having an electric fence in that setting, having just a solid mesh, or wooden fence that has been dug into the ground a little bit to prevent some burrowing is often going to be plenty to keep rabbits out.
Nate Bernitz 58:01
I guess the issue I've heard with rabbits, too, is just huge numbers them really taking over an area, making a big mess of an area too. Is there any role for trapping when it comes to rabbits?
Emma E 58:17
Um, yeah, you could certainly try trapping rabbits. And there, there are a number of different traps you can use. baiting, the trap is probably going to be the challenge, right? So having some sort of fresh food in that trap that's going to stay fresh long enough for a rabbit to go inside. Having that trap set up in the right location. A lot of times where, like Eastern cottontails are the biggest issue or probably an areas where you can't really shoot them, you know, in residential areas, let's say But yeah, trapping trapping is a possibility shooting is a possibility using some sort of poison bait. Not a possibility. Not really an option. When it comes to rabbits. I'd say
Nate Bernitz 58:57
yeah, no, I've certainly heard people and even like downtown Portsmouth potentially having issues with rabbits. And yeah, you really can't be shooting in small suburban and urban properties.
Emma E 59:11
No, no, in that case, you need to come up with another option. But if you have just a small, let's say suburban urban property, it's probably more reasonable for you to have a fence around your smaller garden too,
Nate Bernitz 59:24
right? It's just more more reasonable because at that scale, it's not such a daunting task. Exactly. Just have so much less to protect and are going to be more invested in protecting that small area. And so moles when I think of moles, I think of them as being in some ways misunderstood. There are some persistent myths, I think when it comes to malls, maybe more than any of these animals. One thing is that people associate mall feeding with a grub infestation and my understanding is that may or may not Be be the case. The other thing that I think of is mold damage looking worse than it is. So I think in many cases, moles might be something that you might choose not to control.
Emma E 1:00:15
Absolutely right on both counts, mold damage usually does look much worse than it is the damage that you're seeing is just from the tunnels that moles are digging in the soils there, as they as they burrow, they're pushing soil up, I have to say I usually only really notice more activity in the spring. you sometimes see it in the summer. But once that turf grass and everything is really coming in strong, I don't notice the tunneling so much. And in terms of grubs, because yes, moles are often associated with a high growth population. The thing about moles is that they will eat really any sort of soil, insect arthropod so that that could mean grubs, they will absolutely eat grubs, but they're also probably eating a lot of earthworms, or maybe some other type of beetle larva or something that's not associated with you know, or hurting your grass in any way. So just because moles around does not mean you have a high Grub population, you might have a lot of earthworms. The other thing about moles too, is that they tend to be most active in areas with a really rich, moist soil, you know, places where I've noticed most of the damage, it's where the soil tends to be on the wetter side. And that could be because that's where more of let's say the earthworms are hanging out, you rarely see them in a like a real rough rocky soil, that's you're just not likely to find them in that sort of spot. But usually, I don't know that control is really something you need to be thinking about. It can be upsetting if you're really into lawns to see those tunnels. But just walking over top of those or tamping them down with a rake and raking them out is often all you need to do and the grass is going to be totally fine. That tunnel that the mole made may actually help the grass by helping aerate the soil a little bit
Nate Bernitz 1:02:09
like that. And the other thing maybe the third myth I would bring up with moles is just all the products out there that are advertised for deterring them. And that's so often what we hear when people are asking for wildlife advices How do I deter this animal? So there are products containing ingredients like castor oil, there are down deterrents, right as what was the What do you make of some of those? Is there anything out there that's actually worth purchasing
Emma E 1:02:41
with those things? I would say just save your money. The one that comes to mind for me right off the bat that these are often marketed for voles, too, are these ultrasonic devices, which you vibrate the soil a little bit make this high pitch noise that is supposed to scare the animals away. I've never seen these work very well that they're kind of expensive. They don't really seem to bother the animals whatsoever. So I wouldn't bother with those by the same right? I wouldn't really bother with buying any sort of repellent for moles, castor oil, maybe. But there isn't really any strong evidence to suggest that that actually works.
Nate Bernitz 1:03:20
And if you are going to control malls, my understanding, there's pretty much one strategy which is lethal trapping, and there are various types of traps. They all essentially involve positioning them at the entrance or exit yet really the exit of active tunnels there. I think kind of gruesome with names like scissor trap or
Emma E 1:03:49
harpoon style, right?
Nate Bernitz 1:03:50
Harpoon, whether you're impaling the animal, but it's an option, it is considered humane because it's a very quick death. But if I feel the need to control moles, that is the tool that I would look at.
Emma E 1:04:05
Yeah, and the caveat with those two is that they can be kind of pricey and a little bit difficult to use to set appropriately and to put in the right spot. And just like with other wildlife, if you have prime habitat for moles, if you have really good soil in your lawn, another mole is probably going to move in to take its place.
Nate Bernitz 1:04:24
Well I guess at least you've already spent the money on the trap and we'll get some use out of it right?
Emma E 1:04:29
I guess so.
Nate Bernitz 1:04:30
We can spend just a couple minutes on birds when I think of birds as past I think of turkeys as being kind of a bizarre, but sometimes really a nuisance past and then some animals that will go after maybe the corn and in your garden or the fruits on your on your berry bushes, something like that. So what birds come to mind for you and and are you basically Just looking at netting for all those like, I guess with the exception of turkeys,
Emma E 1:05:04
yeah turkeys with turkeys I think they did two things sometimes they'll scratch up or pull up young saplings or they will actually damage up produce so they'll go after fruits let's say I believe I was told that turkeys can be real issues for people growing grapes because the turkeys are going after the fruits with those, you know maybe fencing keeping in mind that they can fly. If you have a dog around that might actually be a better deterrent for turkeys with other birds. You know a lot of times we're most concerned with birds on on berry bushes, like you mentioned. So blueberries, so any any type of bird that eats fruits, let's say Robins for example. Yeah, having some sort of netting overtop of the fruit can be really helpful so that the birds are excluded from that fruit and you're able to harvest some another type of bird that I think is worth mentioning too are woodpeckers, particularly the yellow bellied sapsucker which will often drill holes in very small little holes and landscape plants and fruit trees. This you know, I guess you could say is more of a nuisance it doesn't actually typically harm trees. So if you see little horizontal rows of holes on your apple tree or something Don't worry too much has just the evidence of a sapsucker in your area.
Nate Bernitz 1:06:21
Yeah, people always think those are borers people always suspect borers. Every issue is this a borer right that's I can't tell you how many times I hear that. It's not from a borer.
Emma E 1:06:33
Yeah, no. You're absolutely right. Yeah, often the if you're seeing very linear horizontal lines of holes in a tree It was probably a sapsucker. It's it's not a borer insects don't tend to be quite that. I don't know, organized, I guess, huh?
Nate Bernitz 1:06:51
Yeah, that sometimes they'll talk about a grid work. Yeah, and what turkeys I mean, something they love are bare pieces of dirt. So they can take those and those mud baths or dirt baths or that they seem to love so much. I actually just saw some turkeys doing that yesterday on a on a poorly seated hillside. And And so using mulch, you know, in your garden to deny them those opportunities may be at least somewhat helpful.
Emma E 1:07:20
Yeah, I think that's a great point. I wasn't actually thinking along those lines. But yeah, you're right. That is turkeys. If you if you have let's say a vegetable garden with nothing covering the soil, they might just be going there for a dust bath.
Nate Bernitz 1:07:31
Yeah, and kind of damaging your garden in the process. We've talked about deer, I think quite a bit earlier in the podcast, but I, I would just bring up the fencing. The fact that deer are incredible athletes. And if they want to, they can leap over fencing unless it's what do we recommend eight feet?
Emma E 1:07:52
Yeah if you are just gonna have a single fence deer can jump well over six feet tall, six feet high. So having that fence be, you know, eight feet or so is going to be ideal. I guess one trick with deer is that they can't jump both high and far. So some people do a double fence feel have a couple of short fences. Let's say you know, four or five feet that are spaced probably the same distance five feet or so apart, maybe a little bit more, that's taking up more room. So I probably wouldn't go that route deer fencing material. It could be you know, wooden slats, it could be iron bars, it could be more of a see through plastic mesh, which I think is what a lot of people go for for vegetable garden. Or it can be electric fence too. And I've even had some people tell me I've never tried this, but that they've had good luck keeping deer out just by stretching a monofilament line around their garden. So a fishing line essentially between posts. And when the deer runs into that it spooks them, you know, because they don't see that line. I don't know. I mean, I think I could see that working if there's only one deer that hangs out in your area. And the other. The other chance to write is that the deer is just gonna get spooked and run through the fence and pull that down and then be in your garden area.
Nate Bernitz 1:09:09
But I guess I just don't necessarily think of deer as problem solvers. They're very easily frightened and, and so with electric fencing, they could jump over it, but if you bait the electric fence, and they have that experience with that, I think the research generally says they're not going to that next level of jumping over. They're just skipping town.
Emma E 1:09:29
Yeah, so by baiting it, you mean you're actually putting some peanut butter or something on that fence, so they're getting a good zap and staying away? And of course, you know, with electric fencing too, these are sub lethal doses of electricity, right? And so I if a fence for a deer, let's say or any of these animals, I don't think there's really much concern at all for for harm to you for certainly harm to the wildlife or to pets or your kids. Certainly it's unpleasant to get zapped by that fence, but it's not actually terribly harmful, you know, it's just a sort of thing where you don't want it to happen again.
Nate Bernitz 1:10:05
And there are also some other animals that might not come to mind as far as the the biggest culprits of garden damage but maybe are worth at least quickly bringing up skunks, you know, either digging in the lawn or or maybe hanging out under your shed. Right, some something like that, can raccoons potentially be a pest on on occasion?
Emma E 1:10:27
They can. Yeah, they'll go after they're omnivores. So they'll go after some garden produce. And they'll also sometimes go after if you do have a grub issue go after grubs in the lawn.
Nate Bernitz 1:10:38
And I guess I would argue and maybe you would push back. But I'd say snakes are not at all a garden pest and really not something that should be controlled generally, especially in New Hampshire, where we only have one venomous snake and they're highly endangered, you're very unlikely to come across them. So besides that, talking about additions to your garden that are offering pest control,
Emma E 1:11:02
yeah, snakes, I know that they can be startling. And they, they they scare a lot of people, but snakes are good guys in the garden. And if you find a timber rattlesnake in your garden, then you are one incredibly lucky person. just not going to happen. And I have seen repellents for snakes before. As far as I'm concerned, that's just snake oil.
Nate Bernitz 1:11:24
Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. And I guess the possum is another animal that could potentially be under the shed, generally, with animals under sheds. were encouraging just kind of use of hardware cloth around the edge of that to exclude them from getting under there, maybe something that they can exit but not enter, if you're trying to get them out of there is something like that. But that's kind of a unique issue. Anything else come to mind for you?
Emma E 1:11:52
Certainly bears can be an issue too, if you're somebody who, like we mentioned earlier is keeping chickens or if you're keeping beehives, right, a bear might get into your garden, too. You might go after some some corn or something like that, in general, you know, most people unless you have a beehive or something like that you're not worrying about having a fence to keep bears out of your garden.
Nate Bernitz 1:12:16
Okay, so what do you consider to be the best resources for people, we've gone over a lot of information, but there is a lot more information that we just don't have time to talk about. So if people want to problem solve around a specific issue they're dealing with where where do you send people?
Emma E 1:12:32
First and foremost, I definitely send people to USDA Wildlife Services, which I mentioned earlier. And their phone number too, is is 603-223-6832. There's also a lot of great wildlife information on the New Hampshire fishing game website. And another one of my favorite websites too, is called wildlifehelp.org. So there's tips there on how to deal with nuisance wildlife as well as lists of licensed wildlife control officers. So if you need to have somebody come in and help you out with a nuisance wildlife issue, they can help out quite a bit.
Nate Bernitz 1:13:05
and we will have the contact information for Wildlife Services and that website wildlifehelp.org in the show notes. So with that, why don't we transition to your featured plant Emma.
Emma E 1:13:32
This episode's featured plant is inkberry, Ilex glabra. Inkberry is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that is largely ignored by deer and rabbits, in theory is native to Eastern North America, and it's actually considered endangered in the wild in New Hampshire. It is however common in garden and landscape settings, and it's often planted for its attractive glossy dark green leaves and pea sized shiny black fruits that attract birds. Speaking of fruit, Inc, berries actually a species of Holly and like its close cousins winterberry and Meserve Holly, you'll need to plant both male and female shrubs if you're hoping for fruit production. inkberry grows well in a variety of conditions and is hardy to zone four. While it prefers rich consistently moist soils and full sun, it can tolerate shade and is somewhat drought tolerant. So if you're looking for an evergreen shrub for screening or hedging that is unlikely to be damaged by Wildlife, inkberry could be your plant.
Now for one final tip. If you use plastic spiral tree guards or tubes to protect young trees from voles or mice, make sure to remove these in mid to late spring. There is evidence that insect pests such as Apple bark borers, dogwood borers, leopard moths and possibly round headed Apple Tree borers seem to prefer trees with wraparound plastic guards. These guards also leave the underlying bark tender and it hardens off slowly. Thus, these guards should be removed in the spring and put back in place in the fall. Perhaps a better solution yet is to make your own guards that have galvanized hardware cloth. These guards can be left in place year round for years on end.
Nate Bernitz 1:15:36
Well, that's gonna do it for today's show on nuisance wildlife, the 10th episode of Granite State gardening, if you've made it all the way through this episode, we're guessing that means you're appreciating this podcast. If you have a few spare minutes, we'd really appreciate it. If you would leave us a review where you're listening and include why you would recommend it to fellow gardeners. Email us at GSG dot pod a unh.edu. With lingering questions, feedback on the podcast and suggestions for future episodes. We plan to continue featuring real listener questions on those episodes. So don't hold back. Let us know how we can help. Until next time, keep those critters away from your plantings Granite State gardeners. We'll be back in two weeks to talk sustainable and beautiful annual and perennial gardens. Granite State earnings of production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and equal opportunity educator and employer views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the university's its trustees, or its volunteers. inclusion or exclusion of commercial products on this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire County is cooperate to provide extension programming in the Granite State. Learn more at extension that unh.edu
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