Wildlife Deterrents

Wild animal deterrents are used to alert animals to the presence of people (prevent surprise encounters), to move/keep wild animals out of an area, or to discourage undesirable behaviour or activity by a wild animal. Deterrents can be active: operated by a person while in the presence of wildlife; or passive: function without requiring a person to be present. 

Remember that all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws must be followed to select and implement an appropriate wild animal deterrent for your situation. Also, remember to treat wildlife with respect. Choose deterrents that are appropriate for the level of risk to human safety and/or risk of property damage for your particular situation. Some deterrents have the potential to cause injury or discomfort to animals and should only be used in extreme situations. If in doubt, contact a conservation officer at your local district office for clarification.

Examples of various deterrents are provided below, along with descriptions of the deterrents, their method of use and the species for which they may be applicable.  Deterrents are generally most effective when used in combination, changed, and/or moved frequently as wildlife can become habituated (accustomed) to their use or presence.

Common Wildlife Deterrents
Deterrent

Description & Method of Use

Applicable Species

Air Horn

These noisemakers are available in two formats: compressed air or manual (blow into a hole). Creates a loud piercing sound to warn wildlife of human presence (prevents encounters between people and wildlife) or to scare them off in an encounter.

Most wild animals

Area (Olfactory) Repellents

These repellents possess an odour that is offensive or causes fear in a wild animal.  Many are available commercially for a variety of species. They generally must be applied regularly (at least weekly) as they will deteriorate over time and/or be washed away by rainfall.

  • For example, predator urine (e.g. coyote urine) is sometimes effective in repelling herbivores such as deer and rabbits from a garden or flower bed (at least temporarily) but may attract dogs and coyotes. 
  • Various wild animals
  • Herbivores

Bear Deterrent Spray

Bear deterrent spray (which can be used effectively on any wild mammal) is best used at close range. It must be sprayed directly into an animal’s eyes, nose and mouth to be effective. Not effective on birds. For detailed information on the use of deterrent spray, read Manitoba’s Wildlife Smart booklet on Coexisting with Black Bears.

All wild mammals, for the protection of human safety

Bear Dogs

Certain species of dogs, notably Karelian Bear Dogs, can be trained in bear aversive conditioning tactics.

Bears

Bear Unwelcome Mat

Place under windows or doors to prevent entry by bears.  May be electrified for increased deterrence. Visit http://www.bearsmart.com/docs/unwelcome-mats.pdf for instructions to make bear unwelcome mats. Be sure to post warning signs to advise human visitors of their use.

Bears

Beaver Deceiver

This galvanized wire fence is installed in a four-sided trapezoidal shape to protect road culverts from beaver dam construction.  Most effective with a minimum total fence length of 14 metres.

Beavers

Chimney Caps, Vent Covers, Soffit Protection

Ensure chimneys are capped, vents are covered, and soffit is intact to prevent access by wild animals.  Roof shingles and flashing around chimney and should be intact and maintained so that they cannot be lifted up.

Small mammals (bats, raccoons, squirrels, etc.)

Contact (Taste) Repellant

These repellents taste offensive or cause a physical reaction in a wild animal.  They must be applied regularly as they will deteriorate over time and/or be washed away by rainfall.  Often commercially available for a variety of species.  Examples of contact repellants:

  • Methyl anthranilate is a nontoxic, biodegradable food ingredient that, when sprayed on grass, will repel geese. It is commercially available.
  • The Wildlife Smart fact sheet for Coexisting with White-tailed Deer contains a contact repellant recipe for deer.
  • Various species
  • Geese
  • Deer

Effigies

Effigies (models) of predatory birds (eagles, owls, etc.) or predatory mammals (coyote, wolf, fox, etc.) can deter their prey from an area. Floating alligator effigies can also deter waterfowl from ponds and lagoons. Effigies must be moved frequently and are more effective when used in combination with other deterrents.

Prey species

Electricity

Options include electric fencing (see additional info below), bird shock tracking, electrified bear unwelcome mats, Invisible Deer Fence™, etc. Provides an electric shock to wild animals to prevent their access to an area.

Most wild animals

Exclusion

The use of physical barricades such as fencing, electric fencing (see additional info below), beaver deceivers, mesh netting, overhead grid fencing, and chimney and vent covers can be highly effective in preventing wild animals from entering areas where their presence is not wanted.

Most wild animals

Fencing

Fencing specifications will vary based on animal species targeted for exclusion and site characteristics of the area. Considered highly effective for preventing wildlife damage.

Most wild animals

Fladry

Fladry is the suspension of flags around the perimeter of an area to be protected. It has been shown to be effective, at least temporarily, in the protection of livestock from wolf predation. Suspend flags outside of existing livestock fencing to prevent livestock from consuming the flags. Use a maximum spacing of 45 cm between flags. Red flags 8 cm wide by 46 cm long, hung so that the bottom of the flag is 10 cm above the ground, have been found to be effective. Note that with time, wolves will become habituated.  Fladry fencing can also be electrified (known as turbo-fladry).

Wolves

Flags

Flags can discourage geese from feeding in an area as a fluttering flag represents an overhead threat. Construct flags using black plastic garbage bags mounted on a tall pole.  Flag dimensions should be 0.6 metres by 1 metre with two or three slits cut about one-third of the flag length to make three or four flaps.  Ideally, the flag should be mounted at least 2.5 metres above the ground.

Geese

Flashlight

During darkness, shine a flashlight directly into the eyes of the wild animal.

Most wild mammals

Groups

There’s safety in numbers. People travelling in a group will allow for increased visual intimidation and noisemaking as deterrents.

Most wild mammals

Hand-clapping

The noise of hand-clapping can be used to warn wildlife of human presence in order to avoid an encounter.

Most wild mammals

Keys

Shake keys to create an unexpected noise in an encounter with a wild animal.

Small mammals

Knife (fixed-blade)

Carried as a last line of defence against a predator attack.

Predators

Laser Light Deterrent

Laser beam directed at the eyes of birds; typically used at dusk and dawn to encourage birds to roost elsewhere.

Birds

Livestock Protection Animals

Livestock protection animals such as dogs, donkeys and llamas can be effective in protecting livestock from predation and potential disease transmission. Considered the most effective, livestock protection dogs can be selected from a variety of species that have been bred and trained for this purpose. Protection animals haze wild animals away from livestock and can offer 24hr/7day protection from predation attack and disease transmission.

Livestock protection dogs can be effective for livestock protection from coyote, wolf, cougar, fox, deer, elk

Mesh Netting

Recommended for areas of low to moderate deer pressure for the protection of flower beds, vegetable gardens, fruit trees. Choose a UV-protected plastic mesh 7.5’ tall. A nylon cord threaded through the top of the netting and at a height of 3’ will help to keep it taut secure.  White flags hung at a height of 4’ for a few months initially can assist in warning deer of the otherwise invisible fencing and teach them to avoid the area.

Mesh netting can also be used to exclude birds from roosting areas in or on buildings.

  • Deer
  • Birds

Motion Detection Response Systems

Devices activated by motion detection can be temporarily effective as animals will habituate to their use. Best used in combination with other techniques.

  • Motion-activated water spraying devices
  • Motion-activated noise making devices
  • Motion-activated lights
  • Small to medium-sized mammals (rabbits, raccoons, foxes, etc.), geese
  • Most wild mammals
  • Most wild mammals

Overhead Grid Fencing

A grid or system of multiple parallel lines of wire, rope or mylar tape stretched 30 to 60 centimetres above the surface of a small water body (e.g. lagoon, pond, etc.) can prevent goose landing. Use UV resistant lines with 1.8 metre spacing. A perimeter fence can prevent the geese from walking into the area under the grid.

Geese

Pond Leveler

Installed in a beaver dam or culvert to reduce beaver pond water level to a desired level at which it will be maintained.  Most effective if the pond remains at a depth habitable by the beaver (minimum depth of about 1 metre at the beaver lodge entrance) but does not flood adjacent property. A permit is required for the use of this deterrent.

Beaver

Pots and Pans

Bang pots and pans together or with a large metal spoon to make loud noise.

Most wild animals

Repellents

Refer to Area Repellents and Contact Repellents

 

Rocks and other objects

Throw rocks/objects toward wildlife but not in a manner that causes significant injury. For large mammals, where there may be a threat to human safety, aim to strike the animal in the rump, never aim for the face. Slingshots can add impetus to the objects for increased range or greater effectiveness.

Most wild animals

Scarecrow

Resembling the human form, the scarecrow can be useful in preventing crop damage by birds including geese, ducks and sandhill cranes.  

Birds

Scare Cannon

Propane-powered scare cannon emits a 100 decibel blast simulating a gun blast; useful for deterring animals that have been exposed to hunting. One scare cannon per 40 acres provides optimum crop protection from waterfowl damage. Use a randomizer attachment so that the blasts are not emitted at a fixed time interval.

Hunted animal populations

Scare Eyes

Large “predator” eyes can be painted on an umbrella for protection from bird attacks; useful when required to walk in an area near a protective nesting bird. Scare eye balloons can be used to protect gardens, docks and sheds from birds.

Birds

Shaker Can

Partially fill a metal can or milk jug with pebbles or coins and tape shut.  Shake to make noise. Can also be thrown in the direction of a wild animal.

Most wild animals

Size

Raise your arms in the air and/or raise your jacket spread widely above your head to make your size appear larger; stand on a rock or log.

Bears, wolves, coyotes

Stand your ground

When faced with a potential predator, never run; running can stimulate an instinctive chase response. Standing your ground can be intimidating to a wild animal.

Predators

Sticks

Fallen branches or manufactured walking sticks, fishing poles or baseball bats can be waved about or struck against a tree or log to make noise.

Most wild animals.

Umbrella

An umbrella can be used as a visual deterrent to make yourself appear larger.  Also, the sound and unexpected quick movement of opening the umbrella may act as a deterrent.

Most wild animals

Vocalizations

Shout (don’t scream), using a deep tone of voice.

Most wild animals

Water (sprayed)

Squirt guns (filled with water or diluted vinegar) or a garden hose can be used to spray water directly at a wild animal (preferably in the face) to encourage it to leave the area. Motion-detecting water-spraying devices can also be effective.

Most wild animals: deer, raccoons, coyotes, geese, rabbits, squirrels, etc.

Whistle

Loud piercing noise deterrent.

Most wild animals

Higher Risk Wildlife Deterrents

Pyrotechnics, whether fired using a using a shotgun or launcher, have an increased risk of causing harm to an animal or person if used incorrectly, or of causing other unintended and unlawful consequences. These products should only be used with proper training, and in extreme situations.

Deterrent

Description & Method of Use

Applicable Species

Bangers (Cracker Shells)

Available in pen launchers, .22 caliber launchers and 12 gauge launchers. Creates a loud bang after travelling 20 metres to 100 metres. Do not fire directly at a wild animal.  Ensure bangers explode between you and the animal; a banger that explodes behind the animal may cause it to run in your direction. A permit is required for the use of cracker shells to deter birds protected under the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act.

Most wild mammals and birds

Blank Shots

Available in .22 caliber launchers or scare pistols. Creates a loud bang.

Most wild mammals and birds.

Screamers/Whistlers

Available in pen launchers, .22 caliber launchers and 12 gauge launchers. Creates a continuous loud screeching or whistling noise while travelling 20 metres to 100 metres. Caution is advised for their use as under the right conditions they can cause a ground-fire.

Most wild animals

Electric Fencing

A properly constructed electric fence can be a very effective tool for keeping wildlife out of areas where their presence is not welcome. Modern electric fence energizers have been shown to be safe for people, animals and vegetation. Also, the pulse rate of a modern energizer is so quick that they cannot generate enough heat to start vegetation on fire.

The primary components of electric fences are: energizer, grounding system, wire, posts, and fence tester.  Normally, when a fence energizer is on, the fence is an incomplete (open) circuit.    The circuit becomes closed when an animal touches the charged wire, while touching the ground or a ground wire, causing electricity to flow through the animal, which delivers an electric shock. The maximum shock is received by an animal when it touches both a charged wire and a grounded wire at the same time. A system that uses alternately charged and grounded wires is usually recommended for animal exclusion.

The effectiveness of your electric fence will depend on its design, construction and proper maintenance.
A number of different fencing designs are available. Selecting the appropriate electric fencing design for your project will depend on the species of animal(s) that you want to exclude from the area, the size of the area, and whether the fencing will be permanent or temporary. For more information on electric fencing, contact electric fencing retailers or provincial staff within Manitoba Agriculture and Resource Development.

Electric Fencing for Predator Exclusion

Electric fencing applications for the exclusion of predators (such as bears, wolves and coyotes) include the following attractants:

  • Apiaries (bee hives)
  • Livestock pens
  • Garbage storage containers or waste disposal sites
  • Dog kennels
  • Compost piles
  • Chicken coups
  • Orchards and fruit trees
  • Gardens
  • Sheds and storage areas
  • Birdfeeders
  • Livestock grazing areas
  • Hunter harvest

For information about electric fencing for bear exclusion, please consult Montana’s “Beginner’s Guide to Deterring Bears with Electrified Fencing .

Electric fencing to exclude wolves and coyotes from an area is recommended to be at least 2 metres (m) in height, with the bottom wire at a height of 15 centimetres (cm) or less from the ground, to prevent the animals from going under the fence. Installation of an energized trip wire just above ground (15 cm) and about 20 cm outside of the main fence can discourage animals from digging under the fence. The number of horizontal wires can vary due to cost and the level of risk considered acceptable by the landowner. However, installation of 13 wires, alternating between charged and grounded, has been shown to be successful. Spacing of the wires is recommended at 10 cm for the bottom four wires, and 20 cm for the top eight wires.

An alternative electric fencing option that has shown some success for wolf exclusion, is the use of turbo-fladry. This technique is not recommended for coyote exclusion.

Electric Fencing for Elk Exclusion

Woven wire barrier fencing is generally the most effective way to exclude elk from a high-pressure area, such as a feed storage yard. However, woven wire barrier fencing tends to be expensive. A less costly alternative, that can also be successful, is the use of electric fencing. 

A variety of electric fencing systems are available for installation to exclude elk from feed storage yards.  One example is a system constructed using seven 12.5 gauge, high-tensile wires that are spaced 30 cm apart to a height of 2.2 m. Installation uses posts that are 3 m long and 15 cm in diameter. The posts are inserted 0.8 m into the ground and spaced up to 11 m apart along the fence line. Wires should be alternately grounded and charged, beginning with a grounded bottom wire. The first charged wire is placed so that more than 0.6 metres of snow must accumulate before it touches the wire. The top wire is charged to discourage elk from reaching over the fence. Insulators are used on all charged wires to ensure elk receive the maximum electrical shock. 

For more information, please consult Alberta’s fact sheet, “Using Electric Fences to Protect Stored Hay from Elk and Deer”.