To the USU Extension Human-Wildlife Conflicts homepage. We invite you to explore this site to assist in answering your questions regarding wildlife management, wildlife damage management, and human-wildlife interactions (conflict management, disease management, attitudes toward wildlife, and many others). Here, we will focus on answering questions pertinent to Utah and the Intermountain West. We invite you to visit our sister site, the Jack H. Berryman Institute, where human-wildlife conflicts issues are addressed on a National level.
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We just moved to an area with a lot of deer, birds, and other animals on the east side of Cedar City. What advice do you have for creating a wildlife friendly yard?
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Wow, what a great question! Do you want your yard to be wildlife friendly in general or do you have a favorite type of wildlife?
First, some general information. Skip ahead if you already know this part (smile).
All animals have the same basic needs : food, water, shelter (from the elements, from predators, and to raise young). Wildlife need these things to be in relatively close proximity to each other; how much space an animal uses to get these requirements is called its home range. For small wildlife species such as lizards and mice, your yard might encompass an animal's entire home range. For larger animals and birds, your yard might only be a small part of an animal's home range.
If you have a specific type of animal or species of animal that you are interested in, we can work together to determine some specific requirements and home range information.
Now for some ideas:
To attract a wide variety of species, you should create or maintain diversity in your yard. For example, you could establish trees and shrubs of varying heights and species, preferably in clusters, in your yard to create a diversity of shelter choices. To provide habitat for lizards, you might create a rock garden with "sun bathing" rocks. Planting native berry-producing shrubs in your yard will attract migratory birds in the fall.
In creating a "wildlife friendly" yard, please keep in mind that you might attract wildlife that you really didn't intend to. We want you to increase your positive experiences with wildlife without creating opportunities for negative experiences with wildlife. For example, Cedar City is black widow country. Black widows like rock gardens, where they live in the crevasses between the rocks. If your yard is a haven for small mammals, it might attract predators of those small mammals, such as grey fox, red fox, or coyotes. Additionally, you will want to be careful to plant trees and shrubs that are generally not preferred by mule deer. When you are ready, we can provide you with a list of plant species that might be best for your yard. None of the above species are "bad" species, but they could create some concerns that you will want to be aware of.
Creating "wildlife friendly" yards can provide fabulous experiences for you and your family. But remember, please do not provide food intended for humans or pets to wildlife -- this includes not keeping your dog or cat food outside. Please remind your family to never try to tame wildlife -- to do so might have negative consequences to them or the wildlife. To maintain positive experiences with wildlife, and avoid negative experiences, we need to keep wildlife wild!
For more information, you can stop by your Iron County Extension office to talk to our Horticulturalist or come and see me (SCA rm 202, SUU Campus); or you are welcome to continue to email me.