HOW TO CONTROL USING EXCLUSION The most important thing you must do in order to control nuisance animals using exclusion is: Think Ahead! Most homeowners and building maintenance personnel are not thinking about the damage that one squirrel, or a family of squirrels can cause inside a building. While they might plan ahead for rodents such as mice and rats, larger pests such as chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, possums and feral cats are not a matter of concern until it is too late, and there is already a problem. Naturally, eliminating wild animals from your home, outbuildings or commercial buildings once they have 'moved in' may require emergency measures, and without thinking ahead may ultimately result in calling professional wildlife control specialists. But you can potentially avoid the expense of hiring wildlife specialists and the dangerous, expensive hassle of eliminating a colony of wild pests on your own by planning in advance. You can plan to be pest-free by giving serious consideration to the vulnerable areas in your home or building. This will require a bit of time, but it’s time very well spent in the long run. You will want to walk around the exterior of any structure you desire to secure and look carefully for openings that might allow rodents, bats, snakes, birds and other wildlife to gain access inside the structure. You’ll probably need to use a ladder to see the attic and roof areas at close range, and you may need to get down on your knees to check building foundations carefully. You will also want to conduct a visual inspection of your yard or parking lot and all outbuildings in order to see sign of wild animals on the premises. For example, are garden and landscape plants being crushed or consumed, disturbing or destroying them completely? Is cat or dog food set outdoors for your pets being eaten by wildlife during the day or night when pets are indoors? Are there unpleasant odors under stairs, bushes or in garage areas, indicating the presence of animals at various times of day or night? Note: You can hire a building inspector to perform this type of work for you as long as you explain that you are not looking for existing breaches only, but potential breaches in the home and buildings. It will be important to specify the pro-active nature of the inspection. Following your own or your professional inspections, you will be prepared to determine what type of exclusion solution will be the most effective in each vulnerable location. Most people are familiar with the use of steel wool stuffed in openings around doors, windows, vents and pipes in older homes. It may exclude mice and rats around your foundation and lower levels, but it will not necessarily deter larger pests with greater strength and chewing abilities that can dislodge the steel wool and enter. Effective exclusion of wild pests requires a barrier that cannot be pushed aside or chewed through. It requires screening especially manufactured for the intended purpose, properly installed. Fortunately, you won’t have to wander around home improvement stores looking for something to use for screening out pests. Tested and proven products are available for your use right now. Chimney caps and custom-made vent covers are two of the most common products used for effective exclusion of wildlife around the foundation and roof areas. You can purchase and install chimney caps and vent covers yourself with complete success. Bats and birds will not be able to get into your home or buildings protected with custom caps. Rodents, cats, and snakes will not have access to dryer vents, heat and air conditioner condensation pipes or water heater pressure relief drains when they are protected with custom screening. Planning ahead to keep wild animals outside and to keep your home and buildings safe from unwanted intrusions is the best way to protect your family, your property and your pets from harm.