By Rick Palsgrove
It’s late summer and the critters are in Groveport again and making their presence felt by raiding trash cans, sampling gardens, digging dens under sheds and porches, and generally ambling about yards and streets.
While skunks, raccoons, possums, groundhogs and other assorted furry creatures can be seen in residential areas at other times of the year, they seem to be more prevalent in towns and neighborhoods in late summer and early autumn.
“There’s quite a number of animals running around town at night,” said Groveport City Councilman Ed Rarey. “Groundhogs, skunks, you name it, getting into things. We’ve had this problem for a long time over the years and I’m not sure what the answer is to control these animals.”
Added Councilman Shawn Cleary, “I had 11 raccoons in my yard.”
“And there’s also feral cats,” said Mayor Lance Westcamp. “It’s a concern for the city.”
Westcamp asked the city’s administrative officials to look into what can be done in regards to animal control.
The city does not have an animal control officer on staff.
“It’s an expensive proposition to contract out for a private company to trap the animals,” said Groveport City Administrator Marsha Hall.
Officials will look into the city’s options.
About the critters
“The animals you’re seeing now are teenagers out on their own for the first time, dispersing, moving around and fending for themselves after leaving their parents,” said Karen Norris, wildlife communications specialist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. “They are venturing out, testing boundaries and looking for a home.”
Norris said wild animals can become a nuisance in urban areas. She said people can consider hiring a private contractor to catch and dispose of the animals or live trap the animals themselves. She added that, by law, skunks, raccoons and possums cannot be trapped and relocated. This is because these animals have the potential to carry distemper and rabies.
Groundhogs and squirrels can be released elsewhere with the property owner’s permission – this includes government owned properties, such as Metro Parks or other wildlife areas.
The other option is to kill the animal once it is caught.
She said shooting the trapped animal is one of the most humane ways to euthanize it if you live in area where firearms can be legally discharged. She said drowning is not an approved method of killing the animal, according to the American Veterinary Medicine Association.
“The problem with releasing a nuisance animal is that you are just moving a nuisance problem somewhere else,” said Norris. “It’s not good to release a nuisance animal because their behaviors, like getting into trash cans, are learned behaviors that the animal does not unlearn and then passes on to its own offspring.”
To help prevent and discourage nuisance wild animals from taking up residence on your property, Norris offers these tips:
•Keep a tight lid on your trash can.
•Don’t leave trash bags outdoors overnight.
•Clean up drippings from your outdoor grill.
•Do not leave dog and cat food outside.
•Do not feed feral cats because they carry disease and kill native wild birds.
•Place mesh barriers around decks and foundations extending the barrier at least two to three feet under the ground or at least one foot and elbow out six inches (making an “L” shape) so the animal cannot dig under it.
•If you have bird feeders and are experiencing problems with nuisance animals, consider stopping feeding for a period of time until the nuisance animal moves on. Norris said there is plenty of natural food for the birds this time of year and you can bring the bird feeder back out later.
For information visit wildohio.gov.