The City of Thunder Bay has many species of wildlife. Although we enjoy seeing them in their natural habitat, problems can happen when wild animals make their homes in our backyards. Preventative measures, such as removing garbage and pet food from the vicinity of your house, will reduce the chance of a bad encounter. Learn about the City's method for rat control.

Common species of wildlife

Bears

For non-emergency encounters, call the Bear Wise reporting line at 1-866-514-2327 or visit Bear Wise for more information. In a life-threatening emergency, call 911 or the local police.

How to prevent bear problems

  • Reduce garbage odours by washing garbage cans regularly with a strong disinfectant
  • Keep garbage in a bear-proof container or in the garage until pick-up day
  • Keep pet food inside
  • Keep barbecue grills and picnic tables clean
  • Do not fill bird feeders until late fall and empty them in the early spring
  • Pick all fruit from trees and bushes, and remove fallen fruit from the ground

Foxes

Because foxes have no predators and there is plenty of available food, you can see them in the City. This can happen more often during the fall and winter when there is little cover to hide them. A healthy fox is unlikely to bother you or your pet. They won't consider your pet as food unless you have an outdoor rabbit or other small outdoor caged pet. Unless a fox has learned that humans supply food, a healthy fox will not generally approach humans. Even a toddler is far too large to be seen as prey. A simple clap of the hands, or the banging of cans, will often discourage a fox from approaching.

Rabies

Foxes can carry rabies in Ontario. Oral vaccination programs of foxes have greatly reduced the spread of the disease. If you see a fox in the City, you should not be concerned unless it appears disoriented, sick, or injured, or is unusually tame. If you see a fox with any of these signs, report it immediately to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Pigeons

Most pigeons in the City are semi-wild. While they can be fun to watch or feed, large numbers in one area can cause public complaints. You can reduce their number by limiting the number of nesting places and the amount of food available. Those remaining will move on to places where they can still find food and shelter.

What attracts pigeons

  • People feeding them
  • Improperly stored garbage
  • Sheltered places and nesting areas, such as roof overhangs, balconies, ledges, sills, ornate decorations on buildings and bridge overpasses.

Methods for pigeon proofing

  • Remove all nests and newly-laid eggs as they appear
  • Remove all excrement from the area and wash with a mild bleach solution
  • Cover and wire off holes or other areas of shelter to prevent re-infestation
  • Cover bird feeders or temporarily remove them from the yard
  • Spray pigeons with water from a garden hose
  • Install plastic or wooden birds of prey near roosting area or use reflective tape, devices or foil balloons to scare the pigeons away
  • Repair broken windows and screens
  • Close off any access to attics
  • Use wire mesh, plastic netting or pull-down blinds to keep pigeons off balconies and ledges from landings
  • Install thin, invisible wire or heavy transparent fishing line around three inches above roosting ledges and the birds strike the invisible line when landing, become startled, and fly away

Skunks

Skunks are a member of the weasel family. They are generally nocturnal, but sometimes forage during the day. Skunks are active all year, but stay in their dens during winter. In late spring, they give birth to a litter of from one to seven young.

Omnivores

Skunks are omnivorous. They eat everything from small rodents, frogs and insects to garbage, eggs and fallen fruit. In fact, the skunk can be beneficial as most its diet can be harmful insects.

Dealing with skunks

Skunk with possible rabies

If you see a skunk that appears sleepy, overly friendly, staggering or walking in circles, it may be rabid. Contact Animal Services immediately.

Skunks digging in your yard

  • Try a commercial animal repellent.
  • Fence off garden areas with small mesh (chicken wire) fencing.
  • Contact your local pest control company.

Skunk trapped in window well

Carefully slide in a plank or board to provide a ramp for the skunk, and then make a quick exit to allow the animal to leave.

Skunk den under your house or deck

You can partially fill the entrance with a pile of loose dirt to determine when the skunk has left, or install a one-way door. Once skunk has left, permanently seal the opening with a solid wall. Do not try this during May to June when there may be baby skunks in the den.

Squirrels

In the City, there are many trees, parks and gardens. It is an ideal habitat for squirrels, as food and shelter are plentiful and natural predators do not exist.

Damage squirrels can cause

  • Chew electrical wires and cause shorts or fires
  • Chew and remove insulation
  • Play noisy tag games and leave droppings in attics
  • Track soot and dust from furnaces and fireplaces into homes
  • Chew window sills or shred drapes and furniture when trying to escape from houses
  • Eat food from bird feeders and damage or destroy them

Solving common squirrel problems

Trapping is legal if done humanely. Use a trap that lets you capture the animal alive and unharmed and is the right size for squirrels. You can keep them out of bird feeders by placing the feeder in hard-to-reach places.

Eating outdoor plants

You can try putting repellents, such as diluted tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper, and bone meal, on soil and over bulbs or plants. Garlic planted near bulbs, moth balls, or ammonia-soaked rags around the perimeter of the garden also help.

Chimneys and Fireplaces

If a squirrel is trapped in a fireplace, or below the flue, insert a rope in the chimney and tap the fireplace to scare the animal up to the rope. If this does not work, use a humane squirrel trap, baited with peanut butter and place it slowly and quietly inside the fireplace.

Inside a house

Confine the squirrel to one room and open a window or outside door, if left alone a squirrel will leave on its own. If it is in an area that is not accessible to the outside, you can use a humane squirrel trap.

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