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Friday, April 17, 2009

The Urban Jungle: City Offers Tips for Harmonious Coexistence with Skunks, Raccoons, and Squirrels

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Just walk away, man
  • Just walk away, man

If you're anything like the inhabitants of most American cities, there's a question that has probably not been on your mind as you try to make sense of the national economy's death spiral, and that is this: How do I coexist with local wildlife?

But if you live in San Francisco, as likely as not you're -- well -- different from the inhabitants of most American cities. Accordingly, our public officials have made the provision of strategies for living with varmints among their priorities.

To wit: San Francisco Animal Care and Control devotes a hefty section of its Web site to various ways for repelling urban wildlife with a minimum of bloodshed. If you're looking for a soft approach to ridding yourself of opossums, raccoons, skunks, and squirrels, this is the page for you.

"The first and best approach to dealing with wildlife in urban environments is to practice tolerance -- understanding and acceptance of the natural patterns of animal life and respect and appreciation for wild animals," the Web site states.

Here's a sampling of our favorite suggestions:

--"If a squirrel is trapped in your chimney, hang a 3/4-inch or thicker rope down the chimney to provide a means of escape. Be sure to tie one end of the rope to the top of the chimney before lowering the other end, and make certain that it reaches the damper or smoke shelf. The squirrel will climb up the rope and escape, usually within a few (daylight) hours. After you are certain the squirrel has escaped, remove the rope and screen the chimney, preferably with a commercially made chimney cap." Squirrel search-and-rescue -- hey, it's all in a day's work. The job is its own reward.

--"If a raccoon should establish himself under your house, place a radio near his nesting place and keep it on loud during the day. Locate all entrances and exits. Block them off except for one and use repellents or frightening strategies to encourage the raccoon to leave. To be certain the animal has departed, sprinkle flour at the exit and watch for footprints that lead away from the opening." This must have been what the guy next door sporting the Scream mask and bag of organic flour was doing yesterday while he blasted KFOG.

--"Skunks rarely exhibit a fear of people since they are literally born and raised in our backyards. They are chiefly nocturnal animals. While their diet primarily consists of rodents and insects, it may also include carrion, eggs and garbage. If approached by an intruder and unable to flee, they may stamp their forepaws and scratch the ground in warning. If pursued after this point, the skunk may spray. If you see a skunk displaying this behavior, back away quietly and slowly." Color us hawkish, but this sounds an awful lot like skunk appeasement. With the demise of San Francisco's JROTC, who will be left to stand and fight?

Check out the full list of suggestions here.

Photo by cliff1066.

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Peter Jamison


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