How to Prevent Raccoons, Skunks, and Foxes from Nesting on Your Property

Here at Think Wild, we love all wildlife and appreciate their important contributions to the ecosystem. Predatory mammals like raccoons, skunks, and foxes help control rodent and insect populations, and are helpful in dispersing seeds of native plants through their foraging behavior. However, close interactions with predatory mammals can pose dangers to humans, pets, and wildlife. 

Are you worried about predatory mammals like raccoons, skunks, and foxes nesting on your property this season? There are safe and humane ways to deal with wildlife conflicts like this. Taking the proper precautions will lead to better outcomes for you, your property, and the wildlife involved. At Think Wild, we offer humane wildlife services including onsite consultations and humane exclusion. 

Raccoon, Skunk, and Fox Nesting Season

Raccoons, skunks, and foxes nest in dens in the spring between March and August. These animals will often repurpose holes dug by other animals to build their nest or find a cozy place for their den in hollowed out logs, below rock or brush piles, or in the hollow part of a tree. Sometimes, these denning animals find shelter in more urban environments and build their nests under sheds and decks, in crawl spaces, or under tree stumps and in tall grass.

While these animals are just looking for safe places to build their nests, it is not ideal to have a raccoon, fox, or skunk family as close neighbors to people. 

Rabies Vector Species

Raccoons, skunks, and foxes are all rabies vector species, meaning they can carry and transfer rabies. While rabies is uncommon, the viral disease can spread through bites from an infected animal. Some signs to look out for that indicate a rabid animal include ill appearance, difficulty walking or walking in circles, foaming at the mouth, disorientation, and whimpering. If you suspect an animal might be infected with rabies, the best thing to do is call the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. If you are worried one of these animals may use your property as a denning site, be extra cautious about keeping your pets secure and giving the wildlife space. Remember that when it comes to responsible pet ownership, it is your job to secure your pets. 

Use Deterrents and Limit Access to Your Property

Raccoons, skunks, and foxes choose nest sites that can provide shelter and safety. Limit access and add nonlethal deterrents to help prevent them from choosing sites too close to your home or outbuildings. To prevent predatory mammals from nesting on your property, it is most effective to add exclusion fencing and cover up holes and spaces where they might enter and den. Hardware cloth is inexpensive wire mesh that can be installed to cover vents and other openings that animals may enter. 

You can hire Think Wild to install deck exclusion fencing and/or to close off openings on your property that might make a good home for raccoons, skunks, and other wildlife.

Remove Attractants Like Food, Chickens, and Garbage

Food is one of the biggest attractants for raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Leaving pet food out gives wildlife a steady food source and will likely encourage them to keep coming back. Your property will become less attractive to these animals when you secure your garbage can lid, keep garbage cans in a secure indoor location, and avoid leaving pet food out, especially overnight. 

If you have chickens on your property, it is highly recommended to take precautions as raccoons, foxes, and skunks will kill chickens if they have access to them. To prevent predatory mammals from preying on chickens, keep them in a locked coop at night since raccoons, skunks, and foxes are most active at night. Ensure that your coop wiring goes at least a foot below ground or have it bend at 90 degrees to create an apron going out away from the structure. You can also play a radio and use motion sensor lights to deter wildlife from approaching. Another suggestion to avoid conflict between wildlife and pets is to secure water sources that are close to your home where pets or livestock are present. 

What to Do if Wildlife is Already Nesting on Your Property

If you suspect there is a raccoon, skunk, or fox nesting on your property already, you can track their movements by sprinkling flour on the ground near suspected denning sites. This helps you see if there are tracks from an animal entering or leaving an area. If an animal does successfully nest near your home, and they’ve already had their young, please be patient and allow the family to leave on their own. They will usually leave after about eight weeks. If you close up their access point, it’s crucial to make sure there are no babies left in the den. Mothers will do just about anything to get back to their babies and you might end up with more damage. 

Once the animals have moved on, you can follow the exclusion suggestions above to prevent animals from choosing that nest site in the future. You can also hire Think Wild to provide site assessments and exclusion installations for you. Hiring a professional to help with exclusion will increase the likelihood of success. 

Relocating wildlife is never something we suggest as it is ineffective and often harmful to the animal. If possible, the best option is to take preventative measures so these animals don’t even consider your property as their nesting grounds. 

If you want support with humane wildlife exclusion, or suspect there may already be a raccoon, skunk, fox, or other wildlife nesting on your property, please reach out to our wildlife services coordinator at [email protected] for help! Our humane wildlife solutions are cost-effective, long-term solutions that improve outcomes for humans and wildlife alike.