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Despite having numerous large snowdrifts still in my yard, early spring brings warm sunny days and an increase in animal activity. Case in point: A couple of weeks ago we heard some middle-of-the-night scratching and thumping sounds from the area near the eave and chimney. It was dark, but I could see a pair of eyes staring back at me from behind a black masked furry face. The next day I dragged out a ladder and climbed up on the roof to make sure that Mr. Raccoon had not tunneled a passageway into my wall or attic. I was pleased to only find a bit of scratched siding and a few raccoon turds mixed in with some pine needles in the rain gutters.

'Garbage kills bears'

Like many areas of the country, springtime brings a cluster of activity from our furry or winged neighbors. Most critters are pretty harmless, and may knock over your garbage can in an attempt to find a snack or two. Keeping your trash can away from these hungry neighbors means less work for you in the clean up department, but also is far better for the local animals. Where I live here in Colorado, one very common bumper sticker is, “Garbage Kills Bears.” It is a friendly reminder that our good-sense practices can keep bears healthy and have them rely on their own natural food sources.

It’s a zoo out there

In many areas of the country, bears would never be an issue, but raccoons, skunks, opossum, woodchucks, rats, squirrels, snakes and an occasional armadillo or alligator could also be in your neighborhood. Most of these animals are not migratory so they are present year round. However, spring time just happens to be a time when they become more active. The trick to keeping them from being a pest is to reduce the chance that they will find food or shelter. They are just following their natural “hard coded” instincts for survival. We can help by not providing the “free lunch” ticket of a unsecured garbage can, dishes of pet food or poorly managed compost piles. The shelter component can be taken care of by securing crawlspace doors, loose roof or attic vents and other desirable entryways into your home.

Nesting instinct

In the winged department, birds are looking for nesting sites. If handy alternatives are available, this may prevent them for setting up camp under you eaves or in gutter nooks and crannies. Preventive measures here can allow for them to raise their family away from your home.

Song birds are often welcome in the neighborhood and many people take measures to keep them around. A well-stocked feeder, a bird bath and appropriate “bird houses” can allow us to co-exist with these creatures. After all, waking to the pleasant sounds of bird calls is one of the great joys of spring. 

This article was reprinted with permission. It originally appeared here on