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Urban Wild Life


The District of Columbia boasts many species of wildlife that have adapted to city life. Reports of deer, raccoons, opossums, bats and foxes are received routinely. Some of the animals have made themselves at home by nesting in chimneys, attics and basements. They dig through trash cans to find food, and even eat dog feces that are not properly disposed of.

While these animals are beautiful to see from a distance, up close encounters can be shocking. 

Here are some tips to keep wild animals from invading your space:

  • Make sure trash is secure at all times. Trash receptacles should be kept tightly closed at all times. Wild animals will not live where they cannot eat. Removing the food source is an easy way to evict them.
  • Inspect properties regularly for places where the animals can live. Make sure that your chimneys are capped so animals can’t nest in your fireplace. Keep flues closed so they don’t invade living areas. Inspect attics, crawlspaces, and basements for holes.
  • Use caution repairing holes in the spring, as there may be babies already in nests. Try playing loud music to encourage animals to leave before patching holes.
  • If putting out food for alley cats, only put out enough food to satisfy their hunger. Pick the food up when the cats finished so the leftovers don’t attract rodents or wild animals.
  • Try deterrents. Sprays and other agents that are designed to keep unwanted animals away can be purchased at most garden or hardware stores. Moth balls or ammonia soaked rags can also aid in deterring animals from a specific area.
  • Keep trees well trimmed. If there are trees are hanging over houses, the animals are likely gaining access to the rooftop by climbing the tree.

To learn more about living peacefully with Urban Wildlife, visit the Humane Society of the United States.

Remember, wild animals in the District of Columbia have adapted to life in close quarters with humans. They may not be as frightened of people as animals in less urban areas.  Always use caution of wild animals, and keep in mind that even though they are accustomed to humans, they are still wild, can carry diseases and should be avoided.  If wild animals are acting strangely, contact (202) 576-6664. Select here to learn more about rabies.


Contact Phone: 
(202) 535-2323
Contact Fax: 
(202) 442-4817
Contact TTY: 
Contact Suite #: 
2nd Floor
Office Hours: 
Monday to Friday 8:15 am to 4:45 pm
Service Location: 

Health, Department of

GIS Address: 
2201 Shannon Place SE