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Living with Urban Wildlife

Effective January 1, 2010, the City of Sacramento Animal Care Services no longer responds to calls of trapped healthy wildlife. Specifically, we do not trap nor relocate healthy wildlife. Because relocation violates federal law and the only other option is extermination, we cannot in good conscience exterminate healthy, viable animals.

The city of Sacramento is situated around two major rivers that produce an abundant population of wildlife, whereby residents must learn to cohabitate with in order to preserve the natural conditions and habitats of this region.

Anyone seeking assistance with the trapping of healthy wildlife on private property should contact a commercial trapper or exterminator. If there is suspicion of injury or illness, contact 311 or (916) 264-5011 for assistance.

Raccoons, opossums, skunks, birds, deer, and coyotes are just a few of the wild animals that live with us in Sacramento. Urban growth and development have created warm comfortable housing (under decks and against spas) and an abundance of food (pet food and garbage cans). Many wild animals have adapted quite well to this urban environment and some have even managed to flourish.

The Humane Society of the United States offers humane solutions to resolving wildlife conflicts. Check out their information guide. Acrobat icon

Listed below are some simple tips to help you peacefully co-exist with your wild neighbors.

  • Pick up food and water before dark.
  • Once your pet is inside for the night, lock all pet doors.
  • Replace plastic trashcans with metal and secure the top. Secure trashcans to a fence.
  • If you catch an animal in the midst of a raid, do NOT attempt to pick up or corner the animal. Use bright lights or loud noises to frighten the visitor(s) away.
  • Close the areas around decks, hot tubs, spas, sheds, porches, foundations, and stairways.

Skunks are omnivorous and eat anything from acorns to small rodents. They are nocturnal and leave their burrow homes just after sunset to search for food. A three-foot high wire mesh fence, extended six inches beneath the ground's surface, will keep skunks out of the fenced area.


These nocturnal animals roam looking for insects, fruits, vegetables, acorns, seeds, fish, and small animals. Prevention is the key to preventing problems with raccoons. Place ammonia stations in the areas of your yard that raccoons frequent. To do this, take a shallow dish or bowl, place a rag in it and pour ammonia over the rag until saturated. Place enough ammonia in the dish so the rag will continue to wick it up through the night. Avoid lawn areas, as the ammonia will burn the lawn.


Opossums look for food during the night and will eat just about anything. Opossums may roll over on their side and play dead if startled. If they do this, just leave them alone. When it is safe, they will scurry away. Place ammonia-soaked rags, mothballs in socks, and/or cayenne pepper in strategic places on your property.

Relocating Wild Animals

Relocating an animal miles away from its - your - home is akin to you being transported to Chicago with no food, no money, and only the clothes on your back. They have a slim chance of survival against the other animals who already have established territories, who know where to find food, and where to hide from predators.

Moving animals can also spread disease, not just between the old community and the new, but also between species. Viruses such as distemper and parvo thrive in new hosts. The practice of trapping and relocating animals risks separating mothers from their young and leaving the babies behind to die, or to be raised by financially-strapped rehabilitation centers.