Canadian Packaging

Keep wildlife in the wild

By Alice Sinia, Ph.D., quality assurance manager – Regulatory/Lab Services, Orkin Canada   

Food Safety General Integrated Pest Management program Orkin Canad pest and wildlife control pest removal

Orkin Canada quality assurance manager - regulatory/Lab Services Alice Sinia offers advice on how to keep wildlife on the outside and your manufacturing facility free of infestation.

Unfortunately, wild animals don’t always stay in the forest. As they start to explore, food processing and packaging facilities are a little slice of heaven—offering the trifecta of food, water and shelter that these wild animals love.

With growing urban wildlife populations, no area is out of reach, meaning your facility could be at an increased risk of an infestation.

Although destructive and quite the nuisance, wildlife pests need to be treated humanely, and their safety should be a top priority when implementing a wildlife pest management program.

To get started, it’s important to know which wildlife pests you are dealing with.


Depending on the species of wildlife pest on your property, you and your pest management professional may need to implement different management techniques. The three most common and troublesome wildlife pests are raccoons, squirrels and skunks.

Raccoons are opportunistic animals. They will feed on almost anything they find and will not hesitate to make their home in an abandoned building, structure or warehouse. It won’t take long to notice that your facility has a raccoon problem. These pests are noisy and leave scratch and track marks inside and outside of buildings. Raccoons will also set up latrines outside their den—so pay attention to foul odors.

If they take up residence or start feeding on your property, raccoons can cause significant damage. They can damage building structures when they create entry gaps in the roof or make holes bigger by climbing through damaged screens. As they forage for grubs on the lawn and other grassy landscapes, raccoons can be destructive and damage the grass. Raccoons also don’t mind making a mess and will jump into dumpsters and knock over trash cans to find an easy meal. In addition to damaging the property, raccoons can carry and transmit disease-causing pathogens, most notably the raccoon parasitic roundworm and rabies.

There are more than 20 species of squirrels in Canada. Depending on the species, you might find squirrels burrowing in open fields and pastures or nesting in treetops. These rodents are herbivores and will seek out seeds, nuts, berries, acorns and farm crops for their next meal. If squirrels invade your property, you might notice scratching and squeaking during the day, nests built out of leaves or holes in the ground outside. Droppings and chew marks also are signs of a squirrel invasion.

Although they may not seem threatening, squirrels can be very destructive.

Their nests—built out of dry plant materials such as leaves and straws—pose a fire hazard in buildings. Like rats and mice, they gnaw on objects and structures, causing damage to the property. For example, tree squirrels will chew and rip electrical wire if they get inside. Squirrels also can cause significant damage to gardens, flower beds and landscape trees as they dig up vegetables, nibble on flower and leaf buds and strip bark from trees.

Unfortunately, skunks have adapted to living close to humans and are a very thrifty animal. They will utilize the abandoned burrows of other animals and eat everything from trash and fresh fruit to grubs and small animals. Your facility might have a skunk invasion if you notice that dirt is pushed out from underneath the building’s foundation. Skunks will move the dirt as they try to burrow underground. Another sign of a skunk problem can be holes left behind in the ground from when the animal had searched for insects and grubs.

Their trademark is the foul smell they emit as a defense mechanism. In addition to bothering the nose, this odor can cause skin irritation, blindness and remain potent for several days. Skunks will also scatter trash and dig up the lawn as they look for food, which can be both an annoyance and sanitation issue. Like raccoons, they can carry and transmit rabies .

What to Do
If you think raccoons, squirrels, skunks or other wildlife are creating a problem on your property, consider calling a pest management professional immediately. These animals are fur-bearing mammals, and their removal might be permitted only under a provincial legislation, which mandates humane treatment. Trying to handle a wildlife problem yourself also can be dangerous to you and your staff.

Instead, leave pest removal to a professional and focus your efforts on implementing an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to help keep the animals off your property in the first place.

For wildlife, exclusion and habitat modification are the most effective long-term treatment, and there are several things you can start doing now to help prevent an invasion:

  • Cover access points to the building with grates, netting or water-resistant sealant;
  • Cover trash cans and dumpsters with tightly fitted, locking lids. Anchor cans or bins to prevent toppling;
  • Trim overgrown foliage to help discourage denning;
  • Maintain grub free lawns and grass by controlling lawns from infesting insects;
  • Build a fence around the property that extends several centimeters into the earth to help deter ground squirrels and skunks;
  • Secure any gaps and voids on the exterior of the building with mesh wiring to help prevent burrowing;
  • Remove overhanging tree branches to help keep squirrels off the roof;
  • Install motion-sensor floodlights in loading areas;
  • Where applicable, install 18-inch metal guards around trees and exterior walls (about six feet off the ground) to prevent raccoons.

If you already have wildlife on your property, a pest management professional can help manage and remove them safely. They also can inspect your property for conditions that are conducive to wildlife and use this information to determine which exclusion and maintenance efforts will be effective in the future.

Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is quality assurance manager – Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. With more than 15 years of experience, she manages the Quality Assurance Laboratory for Orkin Canada and performs analytical entomology as well as provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients. For more information: e-mail Alice Sinia via or visit

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