If you live in Wyoming or other states in the region you have regular exposure to wildlife. While working for years in law enforcement on night shift it always amazed me how much wildlife was moving through housing areas each and every night. Normally it is not a problem unless they have a conflict with pets or your property.
Many animals work the fringes of society to meet daily needs including food, water and shelter. Raccoons, skunks, bats, owls and some reptiles work under cover of darkness to avoid conflicts if possible and to find sources of food.
Remember to bring pet food and water in during the night unless you wish to have wildlife utilize those resources from time to time. Animals drawn to pet food and include coyotes, skunks, bobcats, cougars, raccoons and a number of rodents. Many of these same wildlife species are drawn to areas with poultry so it helps to put them away for the night. Some of these species are very adept at working their way into poultry enclosures and grain storage areas. It requires some sturdy and tight building efforts to thwart them. You must inspect your facility regularly. Look closely for dig marks, fur, hair or feathers on wire, wildlife scat left behind and/or listen for sounds of distress if you have poultry.
Lights in a yard attract insects which in turn draw wildlife which feed on them including reptiles, bats, owls, and spiders. I personally like bats and owls around since they control the level of rodents on our landscape. But owls are very hard on cats unless they find a night hiding place.
Extension has information sheets on most wildlife species once you narrow down who your neighbors are. Unfortunately some of our wildlife neighbors can carry diseases which can affect humans or pets such as rabies, tularemia, and plaque.
Some information requests from citizens are looking for viable deterrents which do not harm the wildlife. A number of things can be tried but most have been found to eventually be ignored by wildlife. Colorado State University researchers studied plastic owls, popper cannons, motion activated lights and other deterrents. The only one which had some control of small animals was a high pressure, motion activated, self-aiming sprinkler gun. Skunks, raccoons and other “lawn” critters got tired of it swinging to them and zapping them with water. It was also noted to rapidly focus on the homeowner also.
When we have drought conditions all wildlife have limited food and water and tend to increase their pressure on landscapes around homes. This included deer eating shrubbery and flowers, skunks and raccoons killing chickens and mountain lions attacking dogs and cats near outside pet bowls.
If you want to see what’s around develop a “track trap” by placing a pan of mud with a piece of bread or corn covered with peanut butter secured to the ground near it. Or if you are a night owl borrow or buy a night vision scope and just sit outside your yard from about midnight to 2am.
None of us live in a vacuum and I like knowing there is life around us quietly going on. But I secure grain and possible feed sources close to the house. I really do not mind if critters shelter and hunt in our hay stacks. I always look on the step and into the stack before I venture forward in the dark. Wildlife are not usually a problem if you learn about them and adjust to their cycles. Learn what is going on around your house – don’t get skunked!