University of Illinois Extension

How to Solve a Problem with Wildlife at Your Home

Exclude Wildlife and Repair Damage

Despite best efforts to exclude them, wildlife may still cause property damage. If wildlife have damaged property, it is important to make repairs quickly so that the animal does not return. However, before beginning any repair project, take steps to avoid sealing animals or their young inside your home. Sealing an animal under or inside the structure may have one of two unpleasant consequences: 1) the animal will cause more damage as it tries to escape or retrieve its young, or 2) there may be a very unpleasant odor if the animal is unable to escape and dies inside the building. If you notice a damaged area of your home, try to make repairs before the breeding season (March through late July) begins. Repairs made during the breeding season have the potential to trap young inside.

Newspaper was loosely stuffed into the hole to determine if a squirrel was still using the site. 
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The newspaper was removed by a squirrel. A live trap was set and the gray squirrel was successfully removed. The damaged area was then repaired to prevent the squirrel from returning.
Photo courtesy of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Photo

Since many mammals are nocturnal (active after dark through dawn), it is unlikely that you will see them coming and going. Fortunately, there are some simple methods to determine if an animal is still using the site. Try sprinkling flour outside potential entry points. Typical points of entry for wildlife are weak spots near the roofline or along the foundation of a structure. If there are no tracks in the flour after 2 to 3 days it is safe to proceed with repairs. For holes in siding, soffit, fascia, or roof, stuff the holes loosely with several sheets of newspaper. If the paper remains undisturbed after 2 to 3 days it is safe to proceed with repairs. If you find tracks, or if the paper is removed, it is likely that an animal is still using the site. In those cases, it will be necessary to temporarily seal off the area during the evening after the animal has left the structure and repair the damage later.

A chipmunk (<i>Tamias striatus</i>) has dug a burrow in this flowerbed. Note the burrow entrance at the bottom of the photo where the bricks make an angle.
Photo courtesy of Dan Ludwig, Illinois Department of Natural Resources. To determine if the chipmunk (<i>Tamias striatus</i>) is still using the site, loosely stuff the burrow opening with newspaper. 
Photo courtesy of Dan Ludwig, Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The newspaper has been pushed out of the entrance which indicates that the burrow is still active. The chipmunk (<i>Tamias striatus</i>) will need to be trapped and removed before making repairs.
Photo courtesy of Dan Ludwig, Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

If exclusion is not possible, it may be necessary to trap and remove the animal (and the young if present). Keep in mind that if an animal is using your home as a den site, particularly during the breeding season, it will be very persistent about returning, even if this means chewing or tearing a new opening into your home. Once you are sure that the animal is gone, make repairs quickly before another animal moves in.