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How to deal with wildlife on your property.
Indiana's Department of Natural Resources wants to remind people how to safely and legally deal with wildlife this time of year.
It's a problem a lot of homeowners are dealing with right now: wild animals wreaking havoc on houses and yards.
David Cole, a technician with Critter Control in Elkhart, said he's getting about 3-4 house calls per day.
"A lot of time they're getting into the soffits and into the attics," Cole said of bats, raccoons, squirrels and skunks.
Once animals take up residence in your home, they won't leave unless they have to. And they don't just damage your property -- they're also a health hazard.
"Bats and raccoons, when they get into your attic, they leave droppings, of course, and those are toxic," Cole said. "Nobody wants to breathe that in."
According to the DNR, homeowners are allowed to trap any wildlife that is damaging their property. Even if they don't have a permit, homeowners can release the animal back into the wild, as long as it's within the same county and they have permission from the property owner to do so.
However, experts recommend that you call a professional if you don't have much experience trapping wildlife.
The same goes for any orphaned or injured animal you find on your property.
"Leave it alone. Leave it alone, leave it alone, don't touch it. Leave it alone," said Char Burroughs, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for the Humane Society of St. Joseph County.
Trying to save and shelter the critter yourself can actually get you a hefty fine from the DNR if you don't have the right permit.
It's best to call animal control or a licensed company.
And the problem isn't going away any time soon. Critter Control gets more and more nuisance wildlife calls every year, Cole said, and it's because cities are growing, and people are taking away more and more of the animals' natural habitats every year.
"The animals were here first, and just because we come in and build 50 houses doesn't mean the animals left," Cole said.
If you don't want any extra tenants this spring, you can protect your house with chimney caps, roof vent and dryer vent guards, and metal screening for decks and pet doors.
The easiest fix is to make sure you don't leave any food outside.
"We see a lot of calls, these people have bird feeders and squirrel feeders and things like that," Cole said. "We're like, 'Yeah, you have critters in your yard because you're feeding them.'"
Credits: By Annie Chang, www.WSBT.com
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