Raccoons, Skunks and Opossums – Oh My!
How to Stop Wildlife from Moving In
by Sarah Whorley, Project Wildlife Communications Manager

From the shores of La Jolla cove to the mountains of Julian, San Diego is a truly unique metropolis that encompasses a variety wildlife habitats. However, as our suburban neighborhoods continue to expand, wildlife encounters are becoming increasingly common. And if you’ve ever had your dog sprayed by a skunk, encountered a family of raccoons sifting through your trash, or been awoken by a foraging opossum outside your window, you know how frustrating it can be when wildlife and urban living collide. At Project Wildlife we strive to educate the community on how to live in harmony with our wild neighbors by providing humane solutions to resolve wildlife issues. By following some simple steps, you can prevent the most common “nuisance” wild animals (namely raccoons, skunks and opossums) from making their home in yours.

Preventing Unwanted Wildlife Situations
A majority of unwelcome domestic wildlife encounters can be avoided by making your home and yard less attractive to wildlife.

  • Trash and Debris:
    • For many wild creatures, our trash is their culinary treasure. Skunks, raccoons and opossums are natural foragers who take advantage of open or unsecured waste bins. Secure all garbage cans or keep them in a garage or shed until pick-up.
    • Brush/wood piles, clutter and other debris make perfect nesting and denning areas for wild creatures. Regularly clear debris piles and clutter from your yard and garage.
    • Pets:
      • Our pet’s food is another tempting food source for wildlife. Avoid feeding pets outside (or remove food dishes promptly if you do) and lock pet doors nightly.
      • Pet waste is another common pet-related cause of unwanted wildlife encounters. Clear your yard of pet waste on a daily basis.
      • Rats:
        • Rats are attracted by many of the same things as other wild creatures. However, as a food source for many wildlife species, a rodent infestation can draw even more hungry creatures to your home. Solve rodent problems as quickly as possible.
        • Secure openings around your home that rats and other wildlife may exploit to gain entrance to your residence.

Deterring Wildlife from Your Home
What should you do if a wildlife neighbor has already decided your home or yard the place to be? Use the following household items to deter wildlife from your residence.

  • Chili Powder:
    • Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili powder that makes it taste “hot” and “spicy.” Capsaicin is a nontoxic irritant that affects all mammals and when used regularly will deter raccoons, skunks and opossums. Sprinkle chili powder anywhere wild animals are frequenting, including in and around trash, around the border of a garden or wherever animals are digging.
    • As capsaicin only affects mammals, it’s also safe to mix into birdseed to stop other animals from using it as a food source.
    • Ammonia (for outdoor use only):
      • Ammonia, a chemical found in urine, is offensive to skunks, raccoons, opossums and other “nuisance” creatures. Place ammonia soaked rags or spray ammonia directly onto areas that wildlife find attractive. For best results, reapply on a daily basis until the situation is resolved.


  • Fans, Radios and Balloons:
    • Strange sounds and moving items can frighten animals into avoiding your residence. Place an oscillating fan (you can attach strings to the outside for extra movement), a helium balloon or a portable radio in the problem area.

Wildlife Extraction
If you already have wildlife living inside your home the above methods may be ineffective (especially during springtime when animals seek out places to rear their young). However, Project Wildlife’s fee-based Wildlife Extraction service can help humanely remove wildlife from your residence and prevent reoccurrences.

For more information, call 619-692-WILD or visit www.wildlifeextraction.com

For More Information
For additional prevention and deterrent methods, including species-specific approaches to solving wildlife conflicts, visit our website at www.projectwildlife.org