Helpful Info for Dealing with Wildlife

Living in the forest means you may come across wildlife you’re not accustomed to or familiar with. What follows is just helpful information compiled by fellow STR owners around Idyllwild.


First, in regards to snakes, there are full-timers here who’ve gone decades without ever seeing a snake and there are others that see a snakes few per year.

Like most wildlife, snakes really want nothing to do with humans, and left alone they’ll scurry off as far away from you as they can.

However, if you do come across a snake and need it relocated (usually because you have pets or children that don’t know to leave it well enough alone) there several local folks who will come relocate the snake for you, two of those are:
– Caleb Henry, Manager, Idyllwild Gardens – 951-609-5328.
– Jon Brown (contact through the Idyllwild VRO FB Group)

Neither the CA Department of Fish and Game nor Riverside County Department of Animal Services will come out as snakes are considered a normal naturally occurring part of the environment here.

Knowing your local snakes. The three most commonly seen snakes around here are Gopher Snakes, California Mountain King Snakes, and Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes. Only the last, rattlesnakes are venomous. In fact aside from an ocean-living sea snake up in Monterey Bay, Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snakes in California. The first two snakes listed actually help keep rattlesnakes away as they both can kill and eat rattlesnakes. All three types also help keep the mouse/rodent population down as well.

Small Animals (Mice, Rats, Gophers, Ground Squirrels, Moles, etc)

The best long-term solution to keeping small animals outdoors or keeping them out of your garden is finding where they’re getting inside and blocking it off (exclusion) as well as eliminating whatever is attracting them in the first place.

Please avoid using poison for the sake of all the other wildlife, as well your/neighbor’s pets, as well as for your own comfort.

If the thought of smelling a dead rodent rotting in the walls for weeks isn’t enough to discourage you from using poison (and yes that actually happens a lot and is often accompanied by swarms of flies), then do please keep in mind that rodents also end up dying outside where they get into the wild food web. Their poisoned bodies then in turn kill owls, foxes, snakes, bobcats, and more. Basically killing all the natural predators that keep the rodent population in check. Further, perhaps the most tragic secondary poisons that occur are to your or your neighbor’s pets. Again yes there are many stories of local pets dying from either finding poison on their own or picking up a poisoned rodent.

There are several pest control companies that service Idyllwild. Check out the Idyllwild VRO services list for vendors. We do encourage you to be a savvy consumer and ensure they are both licensed for pest control and are not going to be using poison baits. Poison baits are legal in some cases, even if ill-advised. It’s also wise to engage a pest control company as they can also advise you on breeding periods and which animals are legal/illegal to trap or kill on your own.

If you or they do live trap, be aware you’ll need to check traps daily, and then need to relocate animals at least a mile away to suitable habitat (water, food shelter) or they will likely return or die from dehydration/starvation. Kill traps are certainly more human than live traps that leave animals to starve to death.

Medium Animals – Tree Squirrels and Raccoons

Note that most larger animals, including Grey Tree Squirrels and Raccoons are protected species in California and you need a license to trap or kill them. Again, your best option here is to contact a licensed pest control company.

Large Animals – Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my!

Sorry, I couldn’t resist, but lions (mountain lions), bobcats (tigers?), and bears (actual black bears) have all been seen from time to time around Idyllwild and Pine Cove. They are all exceedingly rare though so if you glimpse one consider yourself very lucky.

Far more commonly seen are deer and coyotes. Deer may munch on your trees and garden, but are otherwise harmless. Coyotes are of some concern especially if you have small pets. Do please be mindful of them, particularly at dawn/dusk and late a night.

Bees and Bats

Occasionally bees or bats will take up residence under eaves, in walls, or under roofing. Pest control companies can exclude and remove them safely.

For bees, there are several beekeepers that offer relocation services. Check out the Idyllwild VRO services list for vendors.