Living With Wildlife in Jackson and Swain County

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woodpeckerSummer is fully upon us in our area with warm temperatures, afternoon thundershowers and all kinds of living critters from insects to wildlife moving around. A fox has been screaming late at night near my home. Several calls have come into the Jackson County County Cooperative Extension over the last couple of weeks with pileated woodpeckers being the most. As woodpeckers are beneficial to our natural environment by eating insects from dead trees called snags, they don’t unfortunately know the difference between the wood on your house and the dead tree in the woodlots near your home. Since the carpenter bees have also drilled in the side of your home, so follows the woodpecker for breakfast or brunch.

Several ways to move woodpeckers along is to place pinwheels,balloons, flags, or strips of aluminum foil on the side of your home to scare the bird away. Even a water hose will sometimes do the trick to make the woodpecker stop drilling into your home after carpenter bee larvae. Removal of woodpeckers causing severe property damage, either through trapping or shooting, is sometimes justified but can only legally be done with a federal depredation permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In situations where non-lethal attempts to control damages have been attempted and failed and damages are substantial, a permit to trap or shoot a limited number of woodpeckers may be obtained.

bearOther wildlife such as bears, fox, raccoons, fox, bobcat, squirrel, skunk and groundhogs may also make a visit this summer to your home in the woods or field, so please be sure to take these measures to protect both you and the wild animal:

GARBAGE: Make sure to keep garbage indoors like a garage or in bear proof trash cans, because wildlife can have a higher sense of smell and will be attracted to the odor from your garbage.

BIRD FEEDERS: Not only do birds come to your feeder, but also squirrels, raccoons and bears will come. So strive to take bird feeders in at night, hang bird feeders well away from branches, limbs and your home with a pulley system to lower and hoist your feeder when you need to refill.

OUTDOOR GRILLS: Clean the residue off the grill when you are done and cover properly. Also, please pick food and trash dropped on the ground.

GARDENS: Put up a double fence to keep out deer, rabbits and other animals. Deer can jump a single fence easily, but may reconsider if they notice a double fence.

squirrelI like knowing we have wildlife around, because it proves we live in a more natural and healthier environment than our city neighbors, if we take the time to observe and appreciate these natural surroundings. We just have to take a few extra small measures to protect wildlife, ourselves, and our property. If wildlife does become a severe nuisance please contact Jackson and Swain County Extension Director Robert J. Hawk at 586-4009 or 488-3848 or email for more information.

Material from N.C. Cooperative Extension and Cornell Ornithology Lab