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Scavenge No More: Preventing a Trashy Situation

Are you and your neighbors having trouble with animals raiding your garbage cans and creating an awful mess? This is actually more common in an HOA community than you’d think. Dogs, cats, raccoons, opossums, rats and other animals can have a king-sized buffet if they get into your trash—even if the lids on your cans are latched on properly.

First, let’s cover some things you shouldn’t do:

Don’t put your trash out early. Don’t put your cans out until shortly before the scheduled time for pickup.
Don’t shoot or poison the animals. They’re hungry, they smell food and they need to eat to survive. They don’t realize they’re causing you trouble. If it’s a pet, such as a neighbor’s dog or cat, contact the owner and explain the problem. You should contact local animal control if you need help solving the problem.
Don’t pour bleach, ammonia or other chemicals on the garbage. Animals might be repelled only temporarily, and the chemicals can damage your yard and environment. Also, garbage handlers aren’t fond of strong chemicals coating their hands and clothes.

Now, here are some options for deterring the scavengers:

Stake the handles. If your garbage cans have handles, drive stakes into the ground and place the handles around them. It prevents animals from knocking over the cans.
Put them in a box. Put the cans in a wooden or plastic box with a lid and clasp. It hides unsightly cans and adds another level of protection from animals. Please check your homeowner association guidelines to ensure your box complies.
Try bungee cords. Connecting bungee cords helps secure the lids and, if you wrap them around multiple cans, may keep them in an upright position. You also may try connecting the cords to a fence or other structure.

Of course, it’s another matter if bears are the culprits. They’re stronger and a little more determined than your average scavenger. The only way you’re guaranteed to keep bears out of your trash is a bear box. Be sure to contact your homeowners association first. You may not be the only one with bear trouble and the association may want to consider purchasing bear boxes for the community or alerting residents to the problem.

Protect Your Windows from Bird Collisions

Flight is a magnificent means of transportation, but not without its dangers—especially for birds. For many birds in the Carolinas, a journey across the skies ends with a deadly collision into windows, vehicles, cell towers or high-tension wires.

If you’ve been startled by the dull thud of a bird smacking your window, you’re not alone. In fact, bird collisions with windows occur day and night, in all seasons, cities, suburbs and rural areas all year round. Birds don’t see the glass generally because it mirrors trees, shrubs or even the sky, so the transparent panes appear to offer a passageway through a building.

It’s surprising how common this problem is. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimate billions of birds die from aerial collisions in the U.S. each year. Replacing glass or just cleaning it after a bird crash can be a maintenance issue for your homeowners association.

Fortunately, some simple solutions can help protect your windows and the birds:

  • Hang a mobile, wind sock or strips of fabric on the outside of the window.
  • Place birdfeeders either close to (within 3 feet) or far away from buildings (a minimum of 33 feet). Birds cannot build up enough momentum to injure themselves when flying to and from feeders that are very close to buildings. Conversely, when birds take flight quickly from feeders further from buildings, they are less likely to collide with windows.
  • Use an attractive window film, such as one that gives the appearance of glass etching or sandblasting to reduce reflections.
  • Paint or stencil the window with soap or wax.
  • Hang multiple bird silhouettes on the outside of the window to break up the reflection.
  • Replace standard windows with non-reflective glass, such as stained or frosted glass.
  • Cover the window with garden protection netting or a screen.

Keeping the Coyotes at Bay

No matter how heavily populated a given area may be, it doesn’t always deter some wild animals from sharing the space with a community. Coyotes, for example, seem particularly willing to venture into certain communities, and if left to roam freely, can cause damage such as tearing through garbage, becoming aggressive towards people and even attacking and killing pets. While nobody wants to harm the coyotes, it would be wise to make your surroundings as inhospitable to them as possible in your HOA community. The Colorado Division of Wildlife has some tips on how to do just that:

  • Block off pet food, birdseed, fruits and vegetables from gardens, garbage and composts so coyotes can’t access them.
  • Block or remove all openings to areas that might make a good den for coyotes, such as bushes and shrubs and under decks or woodpiles.
  • If you have to leave your dog unattended outside, make sure it is kept in an enclosed kennel.
  • Keep a close eye on your pets. To ensure your cat will be safe, be sure to keep it indoors at all times. Always supervise your dog outside, particularly at dawn or dusk, when coyotes are most active.
  • If you are out with your dog and see a coyote, pick up your dog, if possible, and leave immediately.
  • If you run into a coyote while you’re outside, be aggressive. Act big, yell, flail and even throw small objects to let it know it is unwelcome in this area. Do not turn your back on the coyote or run, as this will only encourage it to be aggressive toward you.
  • Do not let your dog play with coyotes–they are territorial animals and may turn on your dog if they feel threatened.
  • If you are bitten by a coyote, call animal control and make sure you get rabies shots. A coyote that has attacked a human needs to be put down, and animal control will handle it, without putting you further in jeopardy. Make sure your children (and you) do not feed or try to play with any of the coyotes. While they might look like a rugged version of a dog, coyotes are wild animals that can become aggressive and even bite. Though they are normally timid toward people, coyotes’ natural fear is lessened and they are encouraged to stay in the area if you feed and try to play with them.

While it might feel a bit unnerving to be living so close to coyotes, if you take these precautions, it will be easier to co-exist peacefully with coyotes. To learn more on how to live safely near coyotes, be sure to visit the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s section on coyotes at


Flying Through a Fowl Situation

Birds are beautiful, graceful and melodic. They give a sense of being close to nature and add to the feel of your HOA community. But too much of any one thing is never good. Whether it’s a trail of droppings, territorial aggression or destructive nesting and feeding patterns, birds can make life more expensive and a little more difficult or unpleasant for your homeowner’s association community, maintenance crews and HOA managers.

With plenty of open space, feeding areas and comfortable nesting sites free from natural predators, your community is able to create a haven for an avian population. Geese and ducks—attracted to the lakes and ponds and relative safety of the surroundings—tend to be the worst culprit.

There’s an environmentally safe and effective way of living with the winged visitors to decrease the chance of them becoming a nuisance in your community. One of the most important steps is a no-feeding policy.

According to GeesePeace (, a nationally-recognized non-profit dedicated to growing geese education and outreach programs, geese come to an area for two reasons: the safety provided by a lake/pond and the abundance of planted grass kept short for them by frequent mowing.

Geese are encouraged to stay in a community or visit—often congregating in the common areas—when they are fed popcorn or bread. In addition, feeding geese human food is unhealthy and causes them to be aggressive.

During the winters, geese have plenty of resources to find food. They don’t need large amounts of corn or other food when the ground is covered with snow. They’ll fly to warmer areas to find more suitable feeding grounds. Your homeowner’s association’s goal is to not remove all of the birds in the community, but simply to make the numbers more manageable. A no-feeding policy is an important first step.

With your cooperation, you’ll be able to fly through this fowl situation.