Rick Wilberschied of All That’s Wildlife in Chicago once had to catch a raccoon that had climbed 64 stories and was sitting on an apartment building balcony. Three months ago, in Chicago’s Boystown, a mother deer found an unlikely spot to give birth to two fawns—right outside an apartment building.
While these 'close encounters' were harmless, it shows that despite expanding urbanization and development, nature is never far away. But in many cases, wildlife can cause a tremendous amount of damage as they navigate their way onto properties. Migrating geese can befoul golf courses and deer can chew hedges into mulch. Bats nest in attics, causing a build up of unsanitary conditions thanks to their droppings, or guano. Gophers, raccoons, and squirrels can wreak havoc on landscaping, strew garbage for blocks, and infringe on residents’ peace and quiet.
Ryan Nicholson of Attic Solutions in Pingree Grove, says the most common wildlife complaints he gets in the Chicagoland area are for wayward raccoons and marauding squirrels. “Both varmints can chew through a roof, tear through an attic fan on the roof and pull down soffits to gain access to the attic,” says Nicholson. “Once they are in the attic, they mat down insulation [making it less efficient] and then they urinate and defecate.”
Nicholson says that squirrels often chew through soffits or roof fascia, or where the gutter protrudes from the structure. “Both squirrels and raccoons will have babies up there,” he says. “Squirrels and raccoons can also chew through wiring, but they aren’t really looking to nest.”
Wilberschied, a.k.a. “The Critter Hunter,” of television lore, adds skunks to his most ‘not wanted’ list. “Skunks get underneath existing stoops and into basements of homes,” he says. “They also knock windows open and get in that way. The worst season is when they breed in February and March. Usually by May you start getting calls from people seeing skunks digging under stoops. The females have their babies, and when the babies start to leave the den by mid-June, they're scared of everything and spray a lot. They are very trigger-happy.”