Wildlife Comes To Residential Areas As City Grows

By Jeremy Johnson
HENDERSONVILLE, TN–As urban progress continues to turn once empty fields and wooded areas into subdivisions, the animals that once lived there do not always leave when the landscape changes.

From birds building a nest in gutters to Whitetail Deer eating the garden, to Raccoons turning over garbage cans, wild animals can often become pests to their new neighbors.

“Nuisance wildlife is very common and it’s been that way for years,” said Ed Warr, Assistant Chief of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s Wildlife Division.

Taking simple steps to remove the elements they need most to make an area their home can usually control problem wildlife, he said.  Warr said one of the most commonly seen problems is squirrels or Raccoons nesting in the attic of a home.

“Sometimes a city itself is a good habitat for raccoons. What they need is food, water and shelter, just like anything else. You’ve got to get rid of these ingredients,” Warr said.

Pet food should not be left out in the open and garbage should be kept secure in cans that cannot be easily tipped over or access by animals, the officer said.

“Just because it is pet food doesn’t stop a Raccoon or a skunk or a possum from feeding on it,” Warr said.

Attics and garages should be kept sealed so that animals like squirrels or Raccoons cannot crawl inside, he added. For those experiencing problems with nuisance animals, the TWRA can offer advice or refer individuals to a handler certified to remove wild animals when taking steps to prevent the animal from returning is not working.

“We’ve got people that are permitted to do that if you can’t handle it yourself,” Warr said, adding he does not recommend individuals attempting to remove wild animals from their property.

The Hendersonville Police Animal Control officers do not handle removal of non-domesticated animals such as deer and raccoons that are outside a citizen’s home, HPD Captain Terry Frizzell, who added the capture or management of such animals is usually turned over to the TWRA.

If the wildlife is inside a citizen’s home, animal control officers will come by and access the situation, but will typically turn the capture of the animal over to someone better equipped and trained to handling wild animals, the captain said.

The risk of wildlife in the Nashville area carrying rabies is very minimal, according to Warr who added the TWRA has not found any cases of rabies in raccoons or possums in the Nashville area in a long time. And while some cases of rabies have been found in skunks, he said there has been none discovered recently.

“If you’ve got household pets, you should get them vaccinated (for rabies) to keep your family safe,” Warr said.

A vaccinated pet will merely get sick and have to be quarantined for a few days if bitten by an animal infected with rabies, Warr said. A pet that is not vaccinated will have to be put down if rabies is suspected. — Hendersonville Star News