Beaver damage. (Photo credit: Judy Biss.)

Most of us enjoy attracting wildlife to our landscapes. However, there are some wildlife species that we would prefer just go elsewhere. Nuisance wildlife can damage turfgrass, landscape beds and vegetable gardens. The first step in managing the issue is to identify the problem species.

We can identify these species several ways, as these unwanted interlopers cause specific problems. The damages can include soil disturbances, bark damage, vegetation consumption, pilfering in vegetable gardens and leaving behind animal tracks and scat.

Starting with soil disturbances, the culprit can be identified by the size, location and shape of the holes. Small holes can be created by small critters, such as chipmunks, voles, rats or snakes. Larger holes are dug by larger animals, like red foxes, skunks or armadillos. Moles make underground tunnels and consume soil insects. Their feeding tunnels are just below the soil surface. You will see raised ridges and soil in small, symmetrical, volcano-shaped mounds. Be careful if you are walking over them because it’s easy to twist an ankle. … Yes, I know from experience. Armadillos create underground ‘homes.’ Wild hogs greatly disturb soil and plants.

Bark damage can be caused by gray squirrels, deer, black bears, wild hogs and woodpeckers. Gray squirrels remove tree bark. Male deer rub against bark, removing one side of it. Wild hogs rub against the trees, leaving mud and coarse hair on that area. Woodpeckers drill holes in live trees to secure food.

Rabbits, deer and beavers can clip vegetation. Rabbits have sharp teeth and make clean cuts at low-to-ground levels. White-tailed deer rip vegetation (no upper incisors), which leaves a jagged cut at a higher level. Beavers chew shoots, saplings or trees off at the base near water bodies, 2 feet from the ground. Their cuttings leave a tapered point in the middle.

Vegetable garden pilfering can be challenging. Some critters dig a small hole in the side of a watermelon, then claw out the contents. Others consume the center of the fruit or vegetable.

You can identify animal tracks and scat by their droppings. The size, shape and color help determine the nuisance. The smaller the critter, the smaller the scat. You can take a photo of the scat if you want to compare it with wildlife management field guides at the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

For more information on wildlife identification, please view the source, “How to Identify the Wildlife Species Responsible for Damage in Your Yard” by Holly Ober and Arlo Kane, at:

Check the calendar of events for your county to determine what workshops are offered. In Hillsborough County, you can reach us at 813-744-5519 or visit us at 5339 County Rd. 579 in Seffner. Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat.

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