HomeScienceWildlifeEast Texas Ag News: City Wildlife

East Texas Ag News: City Wildlife

ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) — I got a call this week from a couple who had just built their home in the country and loved seeing the deer every morning, but was angry because the deer were eating their newly planted azaleas. Then there was the gentleman who lives in Crown Colony, who was frustrated with the armadillo tearing up his wife’s flower beds. And more recently, my friend Joe was also concerned about an armadillo that had taken up residence under the slab of his house.

Now deer often eat the leaves and stems of azaleas. Armadillos feed on the earthworms we value so highly in our flower beds. Those same armadillos burrow into the ground for shelter, and (in the armadillo’s opinion) under the slab of your house is a great location. Our carefully planned, irrigated and maintained landscapes are often a magnet for critters looking for food, water and shelter.

There is a commonly used term in academic circles, the “Urban Wildlife Interface”, which describes the often problematic interactions between residents and wildlife, even when these urban dwellers do not live outside a city. Name the animal, and I’m sure the interaction took place and then took place much further into a “city” than some would expect.

I would neglect to list all the wildlife that can affect your home and landscape. I often suggest that homeowners buy a game camera from their local outdoor store and set it up outside. You’ll discover what ends up in your trash, digging in your flower beds, or just running around the yard late at night.

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It was a simple game camera that allowed my parents to discover what was emptying their crib, which hung on an eaves outside the kitchen window. The culprit was a raccoon that jumped onto the roof from a log on the other side of the house, made its way across the entire roof, slid down the hanging feeder, and then tried its best before falling to the ground and running away.

Wildlife management to limit negative interactions can be accomplished with a number of methods. Start using plants in your landscape that are not wanted by deer. A simple search on the internet will give you plenty of options. Use “deer-proof landscaping” in your online search and you’ll find many suggestions.

Another tactic against wildlife nuisance is exclusion. Fences with no holes at the bottom and with gates that lock correctly will be a huge deterrent. Bats cannot get into well-sealed attics. Trash cans with a tight lid will keep small animals from getting in. While deer can easily jump over a typical fence height, pigs can often be kept outdoors with a well-maintained field fence or, budget permitting, welded wire pig panels.

Find out which repellents work best in your area. While there is some debate about the effectiveness of repellents, consider trying spicy seasonings or oils that are irritating or offensive to the targeted pest. Products often contain castor oil and many people also use cayenne pepper. These can work for a while, but reapplication is often necessary as rain or irrigation can wash them away.

Know how to use a coffin trap for small animals such as raccoons, opossums, armadillos and others. Buy your own or share with neighbors. Since we live in our part of the world, we are close to national forest land where releasing wildlife makes perfect sense. If you don’t have a place to take them or just want to ship them, follow your state’s game laws for nuisance wildlife.

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My parents borrowed a neighbor’s trap and lure marshmallows into it to catch those vermin. It only took two tries and they caught their own raccoon. The same neighbor who lent them the trap took it. I’m not sure what became of that raccoon, but he was never seen around again.

Mom and Dad kept watching the game camera and saw the neighbors cats and dogs and a cool picture of a fox. But what they never saw again was a roof-climbing, bird-feeder-wobbly raccoon.


Cary Sims is the County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources for Angelina County. His email address is



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