Swans at Public Garden (150)

Wildlife Problems and Solutions

Any Type of Animal Bite

Contact Animal Control right away at 617-635-5348. If a person is bit by an animal, that animal must be quarantined (dogs and cats) and/or tested for rabies (usually wildlife). If a pet has bitten or had any contact with wildlife, your pet must be quarantined (this may be done at home). If the wildlife animal is available, it will be tested for rabies. Regardless of the situation, Animal Control should be contacted. Further instructions will then be given.

Skunk or Opposum Living Under Porch

Sorry, Animal Control cannot do anything but simply make suggestions. Where a skunk or oppossum is known to be denning under a porch or patio, it may be evicted by installing a one-way door over the entrance to allow it to leave but prevent reentry. A simpler eviction is to wait until the animal has begun its nightly foray (two hours after dark is generally a safe time) and loosely closing the opening with netting, straw or other fibrous material that an animal trapped inside can push away, but which one outside will be less likely to disturb to get inside. A good way to know if the animal is away is to sprinkle flour around the entrance/exit so that you may see footprints.

Do not use the one-way door in May or June (for skunks) when there may be babies left inside the den. The babies will starve and possibly discharge their spray before subcumbing to this unpleasant fate. Instead, either wait for the skunk family to move or use harassment to try to accelerate that process. Oppossums are marsupials (carry young in pouch) and therefore you need not worry about young being left inside the den. Mild harrassment can be very effective. This can consist of repacking the hole it is using with the leaves and straw or other material to see if the skunk gets the message and moves somewhere else, or using ammonia-soaked rags placed near or inside the burrow to one side so that the skunk has to pass them in getting out. Make sure the skunk is not close by when doing this. The mother skunk will carry the babies to a new den. Do not permanently seal the opening until the plug remains undisturbed for several nights.

Skunk in Window Well

If a skunk becomes trapped in a window well (the basement window area), the best method of freeing it is to provide it with a means of escape. Place a rough board in the window well that is long enough to act as a ramp to the top. The board should be no steeper than a 45 degree angle. The board should be slowly and carefully placed by approaching the well low enough so the skunk does not see you. A second person in a high enough point to see the skunk is helpful to guide you. This second person should look to see if the skunk looks agitated and starts to raise its tail. If this happens, the person should retreat and reanalysis of the situation is recommended. Another method of placing the board is to tie it to end of a long pole and lowering it by holding the opposite end of the pole. Once the board is placed, keep people and pets away from the area until nightfall, when the skunk should leave on its own. To prevent this situation from reoccurring, place exit ramps or tight-fitting covers at each window well.

Injured Wildlife

If you find an injured animal in the Boston area (dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, oppossums, skunks, birds...) please call 617-635-5348 or 617-635-5349. These animals will be transported to a humane society where they will be evaluated. This service is also provided by the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

Unknown/Known Animal in House

Wildlife occassionally make their way into homes. Animal Control Officers will go out to your home and remove the animal. Healthy animals will then be released outside and in the same general area. It is unlawful to transport the animal to another town. Animal Control Officers are not trappers and will not assist with constant problems such as squirrels living in your ceilings. A private trapper may be located in the yellow pages.

Bat in House/Apartment

Especially during the summer months, bats tend to mysteriously appear in people's homes. Animal Cotrol Officers will be dispatched only if there has been human or pet exposure and you know where the bat is located. Otherwise, it is the responsibility of the home or property owner to hire a pest control company.

Nocturnal Animals Out During The Day

Sometimes animals are disturbed from their dens during the day and are forced to move about. If the animal is fat and healthy looking, it is probably just looking for a place to rest and will soon leave the area. If the animal is very thin, acting strange and in the same area for a long period of time, contact Animal Control.

Bird/Squirrel in Fireplace

For this reason, we recommend that you cap your chimneys. Raccoons also like to use uncapped chimneys for denning and to give birth and raise young. If you can see the animal in the chimney, open the door to the chimney as well as all your windows and doors leading to the outside. Squirrels may be enticed with bread and peanut butter. Wait a while and leave the area quiet for a while. If this fails block the area and call Animal Control at 617-635-5348. We will do our best to remove the animal.

Dead Animal on Private Property

You may remove the animal yourself and discard it in the trash. Make sure to wear gloves and do not have contact with the animal. If you have any questions, call Animal Control at 617-635-5348.

Dead Animal on Public Property

Call the Department of Public Works at 617-635-7555

Racoon on Porch

Make sure that your porch is free of garbage and recycling. If you must store garbage on your porch, make sure it is properly contained. The raccoon will probably leave that night to hunt for food. It will climb down the same way it climbed up. If you need access to this porch, the raccoon can simply be frightened away. Be cautious when scaring the raccoon away because they may get aggressive in their defense (can you blame them?).

Opposum Stuck on Fence

Ever heard of the expression "Playing Oppossum"? Well, that's what they do. We receive many calls about oppossums stuck on top of fences when they are simply standing on them and playing oppossum (playing dead or freezing). Oppossums are very docile and do not cause a threat. If you see this, just leave it alone and it will leave when it feels safe to move about area.

Coyotes, Foxes & Deer Wandering or Living in a Residential Area

Contact the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife at 617-727-3151 so that they can investigate.

Injured Coyotes, Foxes & Deer

You may contact the Division of Fisheries, as well as Boston Animal Control 617-635-5348 or 617-635-5249 and the Animal Rescue League of Boston 617-426-9170 x1.

Videos & Multimedia »


  • Return of the Swans
    Mayor Menino hosted the "Return of the Swans" to the Public Garden Lagoon. A parade began at the corner of Charles/Beacon Streets and the swans Romeo and Juliet were released from their enclosed carts onto the shore adjacent to the Swan BoatsWatch Video »
  • Tails of Boston - Hawks
    Guest: Marla Issac, HerpetologistWatch Video »
  • Tails of Boston - Happy Endings Part 2
    Guest: Dr. MotamedWatch Video »
  • Tails of Boston - Puppy Mills
    Guest: Representative from the Human Society of United StatesWatch Video »
  • Tails of Boston - Holiday Pet Safety Tips
    Guest: Dr. MotamedWatch Video »

Related Links