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How to Live in Harmony with Our Wild Neighbors

Fox Family

You don’t always get to choose your neighbors, whether they’re humans or wildlife. Some of them will be a pleasure to have around, and others might be a bit of a challenge. But getting to know them, and their habits, can help you enjoy (or at least make peace with) their presence.

While you might welcome the sight of a bluebird, rabbit or deer, some animal sightings might be a startling and unpleasant experience. You may have found yourself irritated at the antics of raccoons and squirrels in your midst, and most of us know someone who would shriek at the sudden appearance of a snake, bear or fox.


But these wild neighbors don’t have to be a problem. Sometimes you just need to know a bit more about them to understand why they are in your space. You might learn a good way to keep some distance between you, or you might even find you like having them around.

Human and animal habitats have always overlapped, and several factors can push us even closer into each other’s space. New construction, flooded lands and unseasonal temperatures can all contribute to more active wildlife around your home. And you may have inadvertently invited some new neighbors and visitors with your own behavior.

So what can you do to be a good neighbor to your local wildlife?
Get to know your wild neighbors! Notice the kinds of animals you see coming and going (here are some that are common in Virginia). Research their species and what behaviors to expect.

  1. Respect their space and don’t approach wildlife.  Wild animals are truly wild and need to have an escape distance.  When problems arise, it’s almost always because humans have crowded the animal.
  2. Encourage a natural habitat for the animals that come and go in your space. Plant native species of trees and shrubs, and maintain a clean water source. You can also leave a corner of your yard for nesting territory which makes it even more inviting.
  3. Don’t trap and relocate an unwanted animal. It seems like the humane way to solve a problem, but research shows it can actually do real damage to an animal’s ability to survive. 
  4. If you have a real problem, use non-lethal methods to resolve wildlife conflicts.The Wildlife Center of Virginia can help you figure out a solution that keeps everyone happy and healthy.
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