Nuisance rabbits and squirrels in Appleton can be trapped and relocated with permission

Nuisance rabbits and squirrels in Appleton can be trapped and relocated with permission
A rabbit sits in a pot of vegetables.

A rabbit sits in a pot of vegetables.

Reader questions: We live in Appleton, and we have a problem with rabbits eating many of our flowering plants and shrubs in our yard. We also have squirrels gnawing on some of our expensive outdoor furniture. I have a friend in Kimberly who traps rabbits and then lets them go to the country. Can we legally trap and release in Appleton without getting in trouble?

Answer: Landowners in Wisconsin can legally trap rabbits and squirrels on their own property at any time without a license.

State law also allows landowners to hunt rabbits and squirrels on their own property, unless local ordinances say otherwise. That is the case in Appleton, which prohibits the discharge of firearms in the city.

Live trapping of nuisance rabbits and squirrels is done with box traps. The captured animals can be relocated to other properties, but only with the permission of the landowner where the animals are being released. The animals cannot be released on any property controlled by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“They just can’t go over to somebody else’s property, trespass and dump it off,” said Matt Fillebrown, Appleton Police Department’s lead community service officer and humane officer, “but if they can find a spot out in the country that’s not DNR -owned — a public forest maybe — they can release it.”

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The captured animals can also be humanely euthanized, Fillebrown said, but that presents a new set of challenges.

“The quickest and easiest way to do that is usually shooting it, but you can’t shoot a caged animal, nor can you discharge a weapon in the city,” Fillebrown said. “It’s difficult to do.”

Other varmints that can be trapped and released include raccoons, opossums and woodchucks. Fillebrown said when in doubt, check the DNR website for guidance.

The DNR also lists a number of ways to discourage rabbits and squirrels, which may allow them to coexist with people in an urban environment.

How to discourage rabbits from damaging vegetation

  • Protect individual trees with wire mesh or fencing. The barriers should extend above the standard snow depth and stand 1 to 2 inches from the trunk.

  • Protect gardens with fencing buried 2 to 3 inches deep and reaching 2 to 3 feet high.

  • Reduce habitat for rabbits around your yard by removing brush and debris piles and by trimming fencerows and tall grass.

  • Apply taste and odor repellents on a vegetable patch, although their effectiveness may vary based on environmental conditions.

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A gray squirrel eats strawberries in a garden.

A gray squirrel eats strawberries in a garden.

How to discourage squirrels from frequenting your home

  • Stop squirrels from climbing on structures by encircling the poles with a 2-foot-wide piece of smooth metal 6 feet above the ground.

  • Cover small openings in buildings with ½-inch wire mesh. Be sure all squirrels are out of the building before placing the mesh because more damage can result from a squirrel gnawing its way out.

  • Trim trees adjacent to buildings so squirrels can’t jump onto roofs.

  • Chemical repellents can be used to protect against squirrel damage. Repellents with capsaicin or naphthalene can be bought at farm and garden stores.

  • Scare tactics such as motion-detector sprinklers can keep squirrels away from an area.

  • Playing a radio continuously in your attic may encourage the squirrels that have taken up residence to move out.

Post-Crescent reporter Duke Behnke answers your questions about local government. Send questions to [email protected] or call him at 920-993-7176.

This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Is it legal to live trap rabbits in Appleton? We have the answer