This time of year, wild animals are busy preparing for the colder months to come. Bears are looking for dens to hibernate and smaller animals, such as raccoons, are seeking warm and dry places to nest such as attics, under decks, porches, chimneys and even drainpipes.

In bear country, crawl spaces under homes make a great bear den, but bears can damage insulation, wiring and pipes, posing a hazard both to themselves and to the human residents. Female bears often give birth to cubs while denning, and a family group of three or four bears could end up living under a single house. It would be difficult to evict and move them to a suitable location in their natural habitat.

Wildlife require food, water and shelter, just as people do, but it is best to keep them in their natural habitat and not under your house or in your attic. Here are a few tips to help winterize your home:

  • Inspect entire foundation of homes and other buildings for the smallest of openings.
  • Secure all crawl spaces, doors and openings that provide open access for wildlife.
  • If the dwelling will be unoccupied for the winter, remove all food – even canned goods and spices.
  • Clean the floors, counters and cabinets of unoccupied dwelling with ammonia-based products before closing for the winter.
  • Secure pet doors at night. Close for the winter if unoccupied.
  • Remove trellises, vines, shrubs and tree limbs that may give wildlife access to the roof and attic.
  • Repair shingles on the roof and repair holes near eaves.
  • Cover your chimney with heavy mesh wire to prevent access into the house or nesting in the chimney.

For more information, please visit CDFW’s new Living With Wildlife webpage.