Wildlife problems and solutions
IF YOU'RE BITTEN BY AN ANIMAL
If you or someone around you is bitten by ANY type of animal, call us right away at 617-635-5348 for instructions. Dogs and cats need to be quarantined, but you can quarantine them at home. If we can find the wild animal, we'll test it for rabies.
Turkey breeding season takes place from March through May. Please help us reduce conflict:
- Do not feed them. Consider temporarily removing bird feeders when they are present.
- Be bold. Don't let them intimidate you. Use an umbrella to create a barrier between you and them, swat at them with a broom, spray with a hose, and make loud noises.
Coyotes in your neighborhood
Animal Care and Control receives quite a bit of calls regarding coyote sightings. The amount of calls generally increases slightly in the winter.
If you see a coyote, the BEST thing you can do is haze him! You can do this by:
- making a lot of noise
- waiving your arms around, and
- scaring him off. (Remember to never corner a coyote or approach one if it appears sick or injured!)
While coyotes may appear comfortable in backyards and streets, they tend to avoid contact with people. Hazing helps reinforce that natural fear.
Remember, you are supposed to have your dogs on a leash all of the time in Boston, unless you are visiting a dog park. Please take extra caution when walking your dogs mid-February because it's peak breeding season for coyotes.
Coyotes will protect the females and can become aggressive if approached by the threat of an off-leash dog, even if your dog is just curious. If you have a small dog and are letting it out in the yard, be sure to go out with him or keep him on a leash. Coyotes can easily clear a six-foot fence and are also known to climb trees. Keep your outdoor cats inside and safe!
If you have any questions, contact Animal Care and Control at 617-635-5348 or firstname.lastname@example.org or MassWildlife at 508-389-6300. For more information, visit the MassWildlife coyote information page.
Opossums under the porch
Unfortunately, we can't do anything other than give you advice: install a one-way exit if you know where the animal is getting in. That way, the animal can get out, but not back in.
Here’s some tips on setting the exit up:
- Wait until the animal goes out at night, usually about two hours after dark.
- Cover the opening loosely with netting or straw. That way, animals inside can push their way out, but outside animals are unlikely to disturb the netting.
- Sprinkle flour around the entrance to see if the animal returns.
Help with skunks
SKUNKS UNDER THE PORCH
Don’t set up a one-way exit in May or June for skunks. There may be babies in the den. The babies will starve to death and will spray as they die. When dealing with skunks:
- Wait for the skunk family to move on its own, or use harassment to get them out sooner.
- Repack the hole they’re using to enter with straw every time they go out. The skunk will eventually get the hint.
- Soak a few rags in ammonia and place them near the den. The ammonia will annoy the skunks, causing them to leave.
- Don’t permanently seal the hole until the skunks have been gone for several nights.
SKUNK IN A WINDOW WELL
If a skunk gets stuck in the basement window well, the best thing to do is give it a way to escape:
- Place a board in the window well that's long enough to act as a ramp, but no steeper than 45 degrees.
- Place the board in slowly and carefully. Stay low, and don’t let the skunk see you.
- Have someone watch the skunk from a vantage point. If it raises its tail, get away!
- You can also try placing the board by tying it to a pole and working from the other end.
- Once the board is in place, keep people and animals away until later in the night.
- When the skunk is gone, cover the window well or install an exit ramp.
Other wildlife tips
If you find an injured animal in the City, call us. We'll transport the animal to a humane society for treatment. You can also contact the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Learn what to do if you find a baby bird on the ground.
DON’T KNOW WHAT THE ANIMAL IS?
Contact us to come to your home and remove it. We'll release the animal in the same area since it’s illegal to move animals to another town. Unfortunately, we can't help you with constant problems, like squirrels living in your ceilings. You need to hire a private trapper.
BATS IN YOUR HOUSE OR APARTMENT
We'll only come out if the bat has made direct contact with a human or pet, and you know where the bat is. Otherwise, you can safely remove the bat yourself.
NOCTURNAL ANIMALS OUT IN THE DAY
Sometimes animals are forced to leave their dens during the day. If the animal is fat and looks healthy, leave it alone. If it’s skinny or acting strange and not leaving, contact us. Learn about protecting yourself — and your pets — from rabies.
BIRDS OR SQUIRRELS IN FIREPLACE
You should cap your chimneys to prevent this. If you see an animal in your chimney, open the door to the chimney and any doors and windows leading outside. If the animal refuses to come out, block off the room and contact us.
If the animal is on private property, you can dispose of it yourself. Make sure you wear gloves. If the animal is on public property, call Public Works at 617-635-7555.
RACCOONS ON PORCH
You shouldn't keep garbage and recycling on your porch. If you have to, make sure it's properly contained and sealed. A raccoon will eventually leave to look for more food. If you can't wait, you can try to scare it away. Be careful — a raccoon might show aggression when scared.
OPOSSUMS STUCK ON FENCES?
We get a lot of reports of opossums being stuck on fences when they're actually just playing dead. They're calm animals and don't pose a threat, so leave it alone if you see one. They'll leave when they feel safe.
COYOTES, FOXES, OR DEERS IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA
If you see them, call the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at 617-727-3151. If the animal looks injured, you can contact us, the Division of Fisheries, or the Animal Rescue League of Boston.