There’s a raccoon in my garage/house. Can I trap it and release it away from my house?

Trapping and moving raccoons does not work. A detailed study revealed that raccoons have a strong homing ability and will return quickly. So, removing a raccoon and driving it 20 miles out into the country will not solve your problem.

The only way to keep raccoons out of structures is to find out how they get in. Raccoons leave at dark so have your patching materials ready.  Check to make sure the animal has left for the evening (but make sure it is not a female with babies inside the structure).  Patch the hole so it cannot get back in when it returns. The only way a trap will work in this situation is if you trap the raccoon as it leaves the structure and hold it in the trap while you patch the hole.  Then release the raccoon right there.

How do I get rid of bats?

Bats are very beneficial creatures, consuming literally thousands of insects daily!  They actually cause few problems, even if roosting in an attic. But every once in a while, a bat will find its way into the living quarters of a home, most often after dark, scaring everyone half to death. Usually they are easy to evict.  Turn off all the lights in the room and open any exterior doors and windows. The bat will soon depart on its own. If the bat won’t leave, turn the lights back on.  Bats are light shy and will try to hide in the folds of a curtain or other dark location. Carefully cover it with a large jar or landing net or even a glovedhand.  Release the bat outdoors and search to locate and plug the bat’s entrance hole.

If your problem is bats roosting in your attic, your best weapon is a caulking gun. Every hole and crack leading into your attic should be filled with quality caulking. Vents should be covered by screening with a mesh no larger than 1/4 inch. Small holes are sometimes hard to find but often they are located under eaves or around attic windows. You can locate the holes during the day but the holes must be plugged at night after the bats have left for the evening hunt.

Rabbits are destroying my garden! How do I get rid of them?

Probably the best defense against rabbits is a stout fence. Rabbits can leap long distances but they can’t jump very high. A two-foot chicken wire fence is plenty high enough to keep them away from flowers and vegetables. The bottom two inches should be buried in the dirt.  Fencing can be expensive, but it works well.  Trapping is generally a very temporary solution. A more long-term solution would be to encourage predators and discourage rabbit habitat. Remove shrubbery and debris where rabbits can find shelter and leave open lawn surrounding your garden. A large tree nearby may encourage predators to roost and hunt.

There is something wrong with a tree in my yard. Can you come out and look at it?

Unfortunately, the Nature Center does not have the staff or the specific expertise to visit and diagnose the many issues confronting trees and plant life.  We recommend contacting the ISU Extension Office for your county.  They may ask you to bring in leaves or bark from your tree to be examined and/or tested. You might also contact Trees Forever to see if they have a field coordinator in your area who might be able to help.