May 25, 2017
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Wildlife management in the landscape

By Jeanne Hilinske-Christensen

At a recent seminar for Master Gardeners who are trained as Plant Health Advisers, David Drake, Extension Wildlife Specialist with the UW-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, shared information on managing wildlife in our landscapes.

In order to properly manage wildlife in our landscapes, correct species identification is critical. You need to know what creature you are dealing with in order to determine the proper method of control. Keep in mind there are federal, state and local regulations that need to be followed when managing wildlife. An integrated approach that allows you to be proactive and persistent is best.

Some non-lethal management techniques the homeowner can use to deal with critters that invade our gardens and landscapes are:

* Exclusion: Put a fence around the perimeter of the garden or around desired plant material.

* Harassment: Use noise (even wind chimes!) and/or visual items such as a perching owl decoy.

* Repellents: Use repellent products properly by following label instructions.

* Habitat modification: Alter the landscape by adding plant material with thorns or possess a heavy scent.

* Cultural control: Install plants not favored by certain animals, keep weeds under control and remove brush piles.

Removal of food sources can also be considered. To keep skunks from digging holes in lawns as they search for grubs, control the grubs. If you feed birds, be aware that this food source may also be visited by non-feathered animals, too. Use trash cans with secure lids to keep raccoons from ravaging through bagged garbage.

Several of these strategies may need to be employed to successfully remove an unwanted inhabitant in your landscape. The UW-Extension Learning Store has an excellent publication, “An Introduction to Wildlife Damage Management.” It can be accessed online at

Learn more about critter control and other landscape/garden topics in the “Lawn Chair Learning” series hosted by the UW-Extension beginning May 23. On Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m., you are invited to bring your lawn chair to various Master Gardener project sites throughout Racine and Kenosha counties to view horticultural methods in use and learn more about them. There is no fee, and no registration is required. (Sessions will be canceled due to inclement weather.) The schedule is:

* May 23: Graham Public Library, Union Grove — Spring Landscape Maintenance

* May 30: Kemper Center, Kenosha — Arboretum Walk

* June 6: DeKoven Center, Racine — Perennial Plant Maintenance

* June 13: Somers Village/Town Hall, Somers — Rain Gardens

* June 20: The Teaching Garden, Racine — Ways to Support Tomatoes

* June 27: Kenosha County Center, Bristol — Foodscaping

Additional information for the Lawn Chair Learning Series can be found on the Kenosha County UW-Extension website:

— Jeanne Hilinske-Christensen is the UW-Extension Interim Horticulture Educator for Kenosha and Racine counties. Submit plant care questions to the Master Gardeners Plant Health Advisers. Phone 262-857-1942 or email


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