Tag Archive: Dealing

Steps for Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife

Steps for Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife

White-tailed deer, a species that is both highly sought after by sportsmen and an unwanted nuisance to many. Sportsmen modify habitat to attract deer and homeowners can modify habitat to stop attracting deer. 
(Photo by Eric Zamora)

As a County Agent, I receive a wide variety of calls from clients relating to wildlife. The majority of these calls are quite positive; clients need help improving wildlife habitat or simply need a creature identified to satisfy their curiosity. However, from time to time, situations develop where wildlife behavior becomes a nuisance to a client. The following are some key concepts that can be applied to stop ongoing nuisance wildlife and/or lessen the likelihood of future nuisance wildlife causing issues around your home. For clarity, nuisance wildlife are specific animals (not an entire species) that are causing a specific problem.

Animals frequent various areas because those areas provide resources necessary to meet the animals’ needs. Animals have three basic needs: 1) Food 2) Water 3) Cover. If an animal(s) is frequenting your property and causing some kind of damage, as to become a nuisance, it is incredibly likely that the animal’s presence and nuisance behavior are related to the animal seeking food, water, or cover.  With this concept in mind, there is a four-step process that can be utilized to alleviate the issue.

Step 1: Identify the species of animal responsible for the nuisance behavior. Accurate identification of the species causing the problem is key to developing a successful plan of action for stopping the issue. Do not make assumptions or guesses, use available resources to make a definitive identification. Animals can generally be identified by looking at the type of damage caused (i.e. soil disturbance, tree bark damage, vegetation clipping, garden damage, etc.), signs left by the animal (scat, tracks, etc.), and the time of day/night the damage occurs. Careful observation of these factors should lead to an accurate identification of the nuisance animal.

Step 2: Determine why the animal is frequenting your property. After you have identified the problem animal and familiarized yourself with its normal behaviors you should be able to deduce what the animal finds appealing about your property. In some cases, the damage caused by the animals plainly shows why they are there, other times it might not be as obvious. Remember, they are likely there in search of food, water, or cover.      

Step 3: Implement steps to address the situation. After you have determined “what & why” you can formulate an appropriate plan for addressing the issue. Generally, the plan will include steps in one or more of the following categories:

1) Habitat modification – This is generally the most practical approach to dealing with nuisance wildlife. In its simplest form, habitat modification is simply removing or altering whatever environmental factor is attracting the nuisance wildlife. The most common example of habitat modification is the removal of wildlife food sources (i.e. pet food, bird feeders, easily accessible garbage and/or compost).

2) Deterrents – Any measure that restricts access to the resource desired by the nuisance wildlife. These measures can include, physical barriers (fencing, etc.), hazing or scare tactics (eyespot balloons, holographic foil, motion-sensitive sprinklers, noise-makers, dogs), and chemical repellents. Deterrents are generally more expensive than habitat modification and their effectiveness tends to decrease over time.

3) Trapping or killing the nuisance animal – These are only to be considered as last resorts. Even when trapping or killing is the only option, they generally only provide a temporary solution to the problem if the environmental factor drawing the animals is not also addressed. Additionally, many state and federal regulations that dictate when trapping or killing wildlife is permissible.

Step 4: Evaluate your level of success and make necessary adjustments. Observe any changes in wildlife behavior and modify your approach as necessary. Begin with habitat modification; if that is not effective make sure the correct modification(s) was made. If no additional modification can be made look at deterrents. Only if all habitat modification and deterrent options have proven ineffective would you move on to trapping or killing. As you move through this process you may wish to seek professional assistance. Contact your county’s UF/IFAS Extension Office for general advice or FWC for a list of professional nuisance wildlife trappers.    


This article was adapted from Overview of How to Stop Damage Caused by Nuisance Wildlife in Your Yard by Holly K. Ober and Arlo Kane. There are links throughout the article to a series of publications by the same authors that explore the various topics in detail.


Author: Mark Mauldin – mdm83@ufl.edu

I am the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Washington County. My program areas include livestock and forage, row crops, and pond management.

Mark Mauldin

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/18/steps-for-dealing-with-nuisance-wildlife/

Six Simple Ideas for Dealing with Your Unwanted Exotic Pet

Six Simple Ideas for Dealing with Your Unwanted Exotic Pet

 This python was caught in a garage on Bayou Chico (Pensacola) - it did not belong to the homeowner. Photo: Escambia County Animal Control

This exotic snake was caught in a garage on Bayou Chico (Pensacola) – it did not belong to the homeowner. Photo courtesy of: Escambia County Animal Control

Now that we have completed National Invasive Species Week many readers have learned what NOT to do with their unwanted exotic pets… but what DO you do with them? Here are six simple suggestions for you to consider.  Many professional herpetologists suggest similar options.


  • Keep it    This may sound a bit strange but it is actually an option. Many who purchase an exotic pet do so without the understanding of how large they may get, or expensive they are to maintain. However if the owner does a little homework you may be able to design, or purchase, a enclosure for your pet that will make them more comfortable, easier for you to handle, and less expensive to maintain.
  • Find a new home This is the most popular option. Listing the animal on the internet or in the local paper may yield a person very interested in having and properly maintaining it… a win-win for all. Other options can include nature centers and schools where education on invasive species may find a place that needs and wants the animal.  There are rescue groups for specific species which can be found on the internet.
  • Return to the pet store Many pet stores will take pets they have sold back for resale. This is certainly a better option than releasing it but pet owners should understand that they will probably will not get their money back.
  • Contact your local animal control office Our local animal control will not take exotic pets but some may, and most can, provide good advice as to local locations that may be interested in it.
  • Contact your local state wildlife agency Most state wildlife agencies are very familiar with non-profits, nature centers, and other locations that will accept exotic animals. In Florida the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offer Amnesty Days where residents can bring their unwanted exotic pets to a central locations; FWC will then try to find them a new home. To find the nearest Amnesty Day to your home visit the FWC website at MyFWC.com.
  • Euthanize   Though for most pet homeowners this is not an option, for some it may be their only option. If you do plan to euthanize your pet you should do so only with a certified veterinarian.

Whichever option the pet owner chooses, releasing them into the wild is NOT a good option. In addition to being against the law it could be lethal for your pet or, if they do survive, economically or environmentally catastrophic for your community.

These ideas and suggestions were provided by Dr. Steve Johnson, University of Florida Department of Wildlife Ecology, and the Southeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.  For more information on what to do with unwanted exotic pets please visit their websites.

An unwanted green iguana now resides at the Roy Hyatt Environmental Center where others can learn about the issues of exotic pets.  Photo: Molly O'Connor

An unwanted green iguana now resides at the Roy Hyatt Environmental Center where others can learn about the issues of exotic pets. Photo: Molly O’Connor



Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/03/06/six-simple-ideas-for-dealing-with-your-unwanted-exotic-pet/

Three Tips for Positive Discipline when Dealing with Difficult Behavior

Chances are, if you have ever volunteered with a youth program, you have run into some children who have challenged you with their behavior.   Earlier this month, Dr. Kate Fogarty and Sarah Hensley shared some insight and tips for disciplining children in a positive and productive way. The word discipline often has a negative connotation, but the origin of the word is “disciple” which means pupil, student, or apprentice. As a volunteer leader, your role is that of a guide- guiding youth towards acceptable behavior. Discipline, or guidance, is a corrective process to teach youth how to solve their problems rather than punishing them for problems they cannot solve.

Here are three tips to remember when working with youth:

  1. 1. Say “Do” as an alternative to “Don’t.” Examples include:
  • “Please use an inside voice during our club meeting. During recreation we will be outside and you can be loud then” instead of “Stop yelling!”
  • “Can you tell me what is going on, taking turns?” instead of “Stop fighting!”
  • “If you run through the woods, you could get hurt or miss seeing something really interesting” instead of “Don’t run through the woods!”

2 . Use encouragement rather than praise. Encouragement is specific and avoids comparison or competition between youth whereas praise is often vague and can foster competition. Research shows that praise can often lower self-esteem or reduce youth’s motivation for participation in an activity. Here are some examples:

Praise Encouragement
I like your photo Tell me about your photo…
I like the way Jennifer is cleaning up I appreciate how Jennifer helped put the art supplies away after the meeting.  It really made my job as a leader easier.
You did a great job on your demonstration How do you feel about your demonstration?
You clearly deserved a blue ribbon How do you think your record book measured up with the judging standard?
You have what it takes to be a great leader I have seen so much growth in your leadership skills, especially your ability to make good decisions and solving problems.


  1. Set limits and consequences– we set limits to prevent injury to self or others and/or prevent property damage. Limits should be firm, but not strict and should be set with confidence and consistency. The key is following through with the consequences and explaining to the youth how their actions affect others. Examples:
    • “If you continue to interrupt our guest speaker, you will have to find a different activity. The other members cannot hear and they want to learn about what horses eat.”
    • “If you can’t remember to aim your arrow at the target, you will have to sit out for the next round of shooting. We do not want anyone to get hurt.”
    • “If you cannot share, you will lose your turn because everyone wants a chance to play this game just as much as you do.”

Ultimately, the support 4-H volunteers provide youth to develop comes from a sense of safety, belonging, mastery, independence and generosity. There is a UF/IFAS Extension publication from our 4-H Volunteer Training Series on positive discipline for youth http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/4H/4H34100.pdf. It provides explanations for youth misbehavior (or mistaken behavior) and non-verbal as well as verbal strategies for handling those common issues that come our way working in the field of youth development.  To learn more about managing difficult behavior in a positive way, you can view the full, 1-hour workshop online at http://florida4h.org/madmondays.


Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/01/30/three-tips-for-positive-discipline-when-dealing-with-difficult-behavior/