How to Keep Wildlife Away from Your Homestead

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We already talked about all the different species that just love to invade gardens and yards, eating your crops and potentially killing your livestock. I barely even mentioned how to stop them, so that’s exactly what we’ll do in this article on how to keep wildlife away from your homestead.

Electric fences – why aren’t they as effective as people think? How do you keep snakes away? And what’s up with burrowing animals – how do you stop them from digging under a fence?

Let’s get started.

Electric fences: great, but not omnipotent

An electrified fence is going to zap anything that touches it. It’s a great way to keep bears, moose, and deer away, for example. These animals are too large to climb through the gaps between the power lines.

Wolves, however, can get around an electrified fence. They’ll initially be scared away, but they’re persistent animals, and they’ll find a way to go around the fence if they’re motivated enough.

However, if a wolf really wants to get into your yard, it will dig under the fence or carefully move between the lines. Mountain lions are another thing to unpack – they’re incredible climbers (just like all big cats, really), and if a cougar wants to get into your yard, it will find a way.

Maybe it’ll climb a pole or a tree and jump from there, or it will simply jump over the fence (if it’s short enough).

Speaking of jumping – did you know that some deer can jump over a 7-foot fence? This is scientifically proven, believe it or not, so if you’re installing a fence (be it electrified or not), it needs to be taller than that to stop deer.

Finally, we have skunks, raccoons, and snakes. Snakes are too small to be caught by an electric fence (unless a snake gets entangled by accident, which is known to happen), skunks can easily dig a tunnel under a fence if they want to, and raccoons can both climb and dig.

Now, look – the shock value (pun intended) of an electrified fence is a very powerful motivator. Most animals won’t return if they’ve been shocked once. However, some animals can easily bypass your fence, while others are so persistent that they’ll find a way.

That’s why we have to look at other options to keep wildlife away from your homestead.

Get a dog to scare the intruders away

And by that, I don’t mean a pug or a Yorkshire Terrier. Buy (or adopt) a proper home protector, such as a German Shepherd or a Doberman. If you have livestock, you may want a livestock guardian breed such as a Great Pyrenees or an Akbash. (Here are more thoughts on what kind of dog might be best for you.)

Your dog obviously isn’t here to go toe-to-toe with a bear or a pack of wolves. If anything, I’d recommend you bring your dog inside in that situation. Your dog is here to scare the invaders away before they get close. All animals, including bears and wolves, will avoid confrontation with other animals if they can.

Wolves are the most daring of all the animals we talked about, and their (perceived) audacity and arrogance is so big I wouldn’t be surprised if a wolf invaded a yard with more than one dog in it.

However, animals weigh the risks and the benefits before making their moves. For most animals, the potential benefit of getting some food is not worth risking getting into a fight with a large dog (or even worse – dogs).

Dogs are territorial and will let everyone know that this is their yard.

Combining that with an electric fence (something your dog will learn to avoid) should be more than enough to keep the vast majority of wildlife away from your homestead.

Trapping works, but be careful.

If you don’t have a dog and you constantly get animals in your yard, trapping might be a good option. I don’t suggest using traps if you have a dog, as it’s possible your dog will get caught in the trap and hurt itself.

Before we proceed, I want to point out the legality of traps. Some counties or states have very specific laws regarding traps. Make sure to look that up before you buy a trap.

Traps are very effective against raccoons and skunks. You should get either bodygrip or cage traps. Bodygrip traps kill small animals instantly and in most cases, humanely.

If you don’t want to kill the animals in your yard, you can buy cage traps, which trap the animal without hurting it. You can hand it over to the closest animal control center, and they’ll release it into the wild.

Other methods to keep wildlife away from your homestead.

There are a few other methods I’d recommend.

The first one is cleaning your yard and garden. Animals are attracted to food, and although you can’t remove livestock and crops from your home, you can minimize trash and leftovers, which is food for them.

You can also close all gaps they might want to use as shelter (crawl spaces, sheds, and anything similar).

Another thing you can try out is sense-based deterrents. I’m not talking about ‘wolf’ urine – in fact, most ‘wolf’ urine you can buy in stores isn’t really wolf urine, and it rarely works. I’m talking about devices that emit loud noises and strong lights, scaring the animals away. This has some success with ungulates (moose and deer), but it’s possible the animals will get used to it after a while and realize the device isn’t really a threat. There are also motion-detecting sprinkler systems that work as a deterrent against some animals.

Combining these methods with a tall fence (or even better, an electrified tall fence) will be enough to keep most animals away from your homestead.

What are the ways you keep wildlife away from your homestead?

Animals can cause untold damage to gardens, crops, and livestock and it’s imperative to protect your property. How do you keep wildlife away from your homestead? Have you found some preventative methods that work will? Have you tried the ideas listed here?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Tom

Tom is a former military reconnaissance scout with three years of extensive training and first-hand experience in navigation, first aid, firearms maintenance, combat, and wilderness survival. He is also an avid hiker and all-around outdoorsman, with a lifetime of experience in the wild. Aside from writing and sports, emergency preparedness is one of his biggest interests, and he’s a big believer in being ready for anything the world may throw at you. You may contact him at tomislavlovricwriting@gmail.com

Tom Lovrić

Tom Lovrić

Tom is a former military reconnaissance scout with three years of extensive training and first-hand experience in navigation, first aid, firearms maintenance, combat, and wilderness survival. He is also an avid hiker and all-around outdoorsman, with a lifetime of experience in the wild. Aside from writing and sports, emergency preparedness is one of his biggest interests, and he’s a big believer in being ready for anything the world may throw at you. You may contact him at [email protected]

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  • Some deer can jump a seven foot fence? In the deer-stuffed northeast an eight foot fence isn’t always good enough.

    Cats kill snakes with happy enthusiasm, even big ones. Feed them breakfast (the cats, that is) and they will hang around your property hunting for lunch and dinner.

  • Understanding the difference between desirable and undesirable snakes makes a big difference. My area has both bull snakes and rattlers. They look similar but if you pay attention you’ll see that bulls don’t have rattles. I deliberately allow bull snakes on my property (even though they do eat eggs once in a while) because they keep away the rattlers, which I really don’t want. Some people want to kill every snake they see, but the right snakes are nice to have around.

  • My neighbors down the road had their poultry flocks wiped out by foxes and pine martins, who were heading our way. My free range chickens are still around thanks to the big white shepherd who has a fearsome bark and a yen for pests (but gets along with the chicks). And he likes to play fetch! More fun than a fence.

  • For deer you must have a really tall fence. For rabbits a wrap of 4ft chicken wire will probable suffice. I add rabbit and deer resistant plants around the perimeter of the fence. I also have mint infused balls that I tie along the lower part of the fence and have dirt built up along the bottom of the fence. No burrowing so far. Neighbors suggested eating the rabbits. That’s an ok suggestion after frost comes and during the winter. Not safe in warmer weather because fleas carry bubonic plague in parts of 2 states here.

  • We have a farm in the rural mountains with livestock and various predators. Bear, coyote and mountain lion are common here. We also primarily have set the farm up with high tensile hot wire, which for the most part is very effective and is something I’m very familiar with. It’s cost effective to install and does the main job of keeping livestock and livestock guardian dogs in, and predators out – although we don’t depend 100% on the hotwire to protect what is inside the fence.

    We raise Kangal dogs and use them as our main source of protection for the livestock (cattle, sheep, chickens) of which they are extremely effective and we tend to run them in pairs. They have the strongest bite force of any breed of dog, wolf or coyote so they have the potential to be very serious.

    The animal kingdom is fascinating to observe because the level of intelligence and instinct is beyond what most people ever think about or understand. Just the presence alone of the LGD’s (livestock guardian dogs) communicates to the predators “you really don’t want to come here”, and the predators don’t. Period. There are other farms and other situations that are not set up with layers of protection so why would they attempt a breach if they intuitively know their chances of making it out are nil.

    We have battled deer decimating our gardens and orchard trees for years. A couple of years ago we planted 50 Japanese flowering cherry trees along the drive up the farm, and only a handful remain. The deer ravaged the tiny leaves and the majority of the trees died. This year, I sat on my porch watching the deer easily scale our 5′ hotwire fencing, and began to focus on our rare heirloom apple trees. That really ticked me off but we have tried everything and outside of putting a 7-8′ high fence on the farm, nothing seemed to stop them. If I had a Kangal in there, the deer would stay away but at the time, I didn’t always put a dog there.

    I was sharing my frustrations with a friend, who started laughing because she’s been at war with the indigenous creatures in our mountains for years. She shared how all of their blueberry bushes would be stripped every year by the birds, leaving nothing for the family. I have also experienced this myself — every year I would vow to win the war with the birds, and every year the birds would win.

    But! She told me about this holographic spools of ribbon that she had discovered on Amazon, and how she took that ribbon and wrapped all around her blueberry bushes, over and under, and throughout the entire bush. As the sun would shine on the bushes, the light would reflect off the ribbon and scare the birds away. In desperation, I bought a few spools of this holographic plastic ribbon, and wrapped it around the apple trees the deer were currently decimating. I wrapped the ribbon around the trees, and let the beginning and end strips dangle about 8″ off the trees so that the air would make them move.

    For the past 2 months as I’ve sat on my porch, I have watched the deer come and jump into other pastures, but not the ones with the apple trees and holographic tape. I had wrapped it also around the few Japanese cherry blossom trees that are left that are in the wide open with no fence restrictions, and they are no longer getting ravaged.

    I must confess that the trees look a little stupid with this holographic tape around them, but I don’t care – at least they are protected from birds and deer. I’ll take the tape down in the fall when the trees drop their leaves, and put it back up in the spring.

    Over the years, we have tried everything, but nothing has worked as easily as the holographic ribbon for deer and birds. As mentioned above, the Kangals do protect the livestock with ease, from the big predators, down to the smaller ones – racoons, possums, etc.

    We are of a mindset, however, that at least in rural areas, there is no way to eradicate every nuisance, so there is a balance we strive for. We have a right to protect what is ours – family, livestock, etc. but give the snakes and other critters have places to live too that don’t adversely affect the work we do on our farm.

  • I’m in central KY and we have rabbbits, foxes, skunks, possums, coons, deer, coyote, hawks and owls. Oh, a few snakes, too.

    A friend has learned that deer don’t have good depth perception and that a double fence, 4-5′ high and about 3′ apart, will keep a deer from jumping over because they really can’t tell what they are jumping into.

    I’ve used 4 strand hot wire (goat spacing) with limited success, but when I added two higher strands of 50lb clear fishing line, my deer problem stopped. They can see that something is there but can’t really make out what it is.

    Corn can be protected from coons by putting a hot wire 6″ off the ground. Another at 12″ would be added protection. They don’t seem too happy to dig under it.

    For chickens, you don’t want any fencing that can be climbed (chain link, chicken wire, wood, etc) as coons and possums can climb. If you put up a climbable fence, put a hot wire about 6″ from the fence about 6″ off the ground to deter the initial climb. If you do have diggers, you can lay chicken wire or hardware cloth on the ground around the outside of the pen to deter the digging.

    LGD’s work great for foxes and coyotes, but are not a guarantee. I shot a fox doing some ‘midnight’ hunting inside my goat pen where I had two sheepdogs. The fox was after chickens and was not bothering the goats, so the dogs left it alone.

    About 10 or 15 years ago I had a serious coon problem and did several sessions of midnight hunting with night vision goggles and a 12 ga. Over a period of a week or two I learned that the coons came in 3 waves; 30 minutes after sundown, about 11PM and then again about 2:30 AM. I eventually killed 13 coons, two fox and a couple of possums. Been tranquil and peaceful since then.

    YMMV

    • I should add that random noise and scents are added layers. Aluminum pie pans (pot pie sized) hung in pairs about 2″ apart will randomly bang into each other with the slightest breeze. Fox urine and coyote urine sprayed on the fence posts around the garden will deter rabbits, but you need to respray once a week and after every rain.

  • Irish Spring Soap works for the mice, and squirrels. Planting onions around other root crops and a galvanized wire mesh bottom to your planter boxes deters voles. A 22lr and a 410 thins out the varmit population. As for deer, lots of receipes for venison. I prefer meatballs, cooked, then frozen for snacking.

  • We have both deer and elk so installed 6 foot orchard fence (small at the bottom, larger openings at the top) woven wire around the garden and orchard area. We attached wire barb wire fencing stays at the top to give an eight foot height and ran barb wire at the top to get the 8 foot height. It has worked to keep them out! I have heard a double fence is also effective, but our sole was a lower cost, and honestly less work than installing two fences.
    We used the same fencing for the poultry run area, however we had to reinforce with chicken wire on the ground to prevent coatimundi from digging under. Then, the nasty invaders started climbing over! We added an electric Hotwire to the chicken pen. One strand at about 3 feet and another at the top. Nothing is going over the top without a shock. I also installed a solar powered automatic chicken door on the chicken coop (inside the run) so if anything DOES figure a way in, they can’t get in the coop. The turkeys don’t coop up at night, they like to roost outside, so I solved for this by putting a cattle panel roof on their separate area inside the run area. It also keeps the turkeys from getting out of they run which has happened, even when I clip their wings. Unfortunately, I have lost 4 turkey hens, one rooster and 4 chicken hens as I learned all of this the hard way! Hopefully my bad experiences will be helpful to others. I have nicknamed the poultry enclosure “Chick-tanamo” as the security to get in or out now is quite elaborate!

  • Your own urine can be very effective repellent. Apply away from edible plants, sparingly and discreetly. Also, hair cleaned from your hairbrush, tucked into shrubs and near the base of plants you want to protect, also exudes your scent and effectively repels critters of all kinds. Just keep refreshing your scent; most critters don’t want to come near humans if they can avoid it.

  • If you are able to have a motion detector set up, that is connected to a loud alarm horn, this will startle the animals away. As they get use to it (and they will) I use a good old fashion Daisy BB/pellet rifle to shoot them in the butt. They soon associate the noise with the sting of the BBs and avoid the area you’re trying to protect. Nothing worth having (garden or even flowers) is ever gonna be easy to be to protect, you just need to be as determined as the deer is 😁

  • Geez, so many settler-centric responses! So alienated! Didn’t they read Ken Carey’s book, _Return of the Bird Tribes_ where he promotes *complementing Nature* with our allegedly “higher” intelligence, instead of working the Settler Norm of more and more alienation from our fellow shapes of the Earth! Look, I am NOT a bleeding heart city-slicker, either! I have lived extensively on the land–minus the tent, minus the locked door. I have found ways to make peace with most of the wild ones (the last truly Indigenous!). Think about what Chief Dan George said about talking to the animals. What I do, is I feed leftovers to the wild ones–a good distance away from my sleeping area! I put out salt licks for the deer, and have in mind making an easy garden JUST FOR the Deer! Raccoons, they’re usually quite a joy if you don’t shoot at them or otherwise attack (even your “vibe” will be seen as attacking, so watch that!). For the last many winters I lived outside–no walls–in west coast rain weather, and sometimes in snow. I found ways around setting up mouse-traps –which I got sick of setting up — feed them outside, away from the sleeping areas! The basic tact? To build up the Deer population, and in crisis, have more meat to hunt! Build up the mouse population –provided there area enough natural predators to hunt them!–and you build up the ecosystem, all around. A total STRANGE approach for Settlers worldwide, but one which served world Indigenous peoples for thousands of years before all this alienating narrative!! Think it thru! (Not advocating circumstances like urban England and the plagues that resulted!)

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