Dealing With Unwanted Wildlife on Horse Properties
Birds and small mammals attracted to barns can cause disease and damage; here’s how to discourage or remove them
One night this past winter around 9 p.m., long after the sun had set, I headed out with my two dogs to do the last of the day’s three feedings at our 12-horse boarding facility. The dogs bounded happily past me out the door and around the corner, status quo, the three of us oblivious to anything out of the norm. As I strolled under the light at the front of our barn, however, I caught sight of the dogs standing over something ahead of me, wagging their tails intently. A handsome young skunk was boldly showing them the backside of his tail. You can probably guess what happened next.
My dogs made a mad dash away from the two-tone visitor and rolled in the snow, desperately trying to rid themselves of his perfume. The skunk, unconcerned, shuffled off, and I began making plans for where the dogs would sleep that night and how I’d get them clean the next morning.
This all goes to say that some wildlife in and around our barns might be desirable, such as barn swallows, each of which consumes around 800 soft-bodied flying insects per day (better than a bug zapper), or barn owls, a family of which can consume up to 3,000 rodents a year. Or, you might just enjoy watching a herd of deer or elk graze in your back pasture
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