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Sometimes the animal kingdom gets too close for comfort. Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t spend the summer hosting a zoo of unwanted guests.

Grin & Bear It They take a long winter’s nap, so by summer your local bear population is hungry—and the last thing you want to do is roll out an all-you-can-eat buffet for them. Bears have an incredible sense of smell, so make sure you’re not leaving any foodstuff outside. Clean your outdoor grill thoroughly every time you use it, including the grease and drip trays, and store it indoors. Keep all pet food inside, and make sure to put your birdfeeders away from early April through mid-November.

Tip
Not all bears react the same way to a run-in with humans. A black bear will run away from sudden, loud noises such as clapping, yelling or an air horn. However, a grizzly won’t retreat, so you should always remain quiet and back away slowly. Learn to spot the differences here.

Raccoon Racquet Raccoons are incredibly persistent—and messy. Try securing trash lids with bungee cords and installing motion-activated lights to keep the masked intruders at bay. Raccoons are also repelled by the scent of mint, so plant some around trash and compost areas or consider using mint-scented trash bags. Strings of blinking decorative lights around trash bins will also keep them away.

Oh, Deer These majestic creatures don’t look as lovely when they’re munching away at your gorgeous garden. After your next haircut, collect your hair and sprinkle it around your garden—the smell will scare them off. Scented soap shavings will also do the trick. Or get creative with your gardening: Deer avoid strong scents like garlic, onion, marigold and sage, so plant some alongside your favorite blooms.

Skunk Funk If a skunk has entered your home uninvited, don’t panic: Your frenzy may cause it to spray, and removing a skunk’s scent from clothes and furniture is a near-impossible task. The key here is patience. Lure the sneaky stinker back to nature by placing some of its favorite foods away from the house: Try hard-boiled eggs, a day or so old, or a peanut butter sandwich.

Feeling Squirrely Getting a frantic animal out of a sticky situation, like one stuck in a dryer vent, can be tricky. Consider calling a qualified exterminator. If you do decide to go it alone, turn off the electricity connected to the dryer and check to see if the squirrel is caught in the hose before threading a broom handle quickly through it and pushing the animal back outside. Install a mesh guard on the exterior wall vent to prevent another unannounced visit.