Wildlife-friendly Homes

Wildlife-friendly Homes

The Conservancy is proud to partner with homeowners to maintain healthy ecosystems and encourage conservation-compatible development. We request that Preserve landowners consider the needs of wildlife and incorporate home design elements that support coexistence. During construction, the Conservancy works with landowners, the Community Services District (CSD), and contractors to limit disturbance in the Openlands. 

Bird-safe Windows

From a bird’s perspective, windows reflect the outside world and create the illusion of a seamless continuation of surrounding habitat, which can lead to what’s known as a “bird strike.” According to the Audubon Society, between 54 and 76 percent of window collisions prove fatal, killing almost one billion birds in the United States every year. Luckily, there are many elegant window design and retrofit options available on the market to prevent bird strikes. Explore bird-safe window options here. 

Rodenticide-free Pest Management

Rodenticides (poison baits used to kill rodents) threaten to upend natural predator-prey cycles by poisoning entire food-chains. Their negative impacts on wildlife have been widely documented in California, where studies have found rodenticide traces in 75% of the animals tested. In response to this serious issue, a group of Preserve members advocated for the elimination of rodenticides on The Preserve in 2014 and adopted rodenticide-free pest management in 2016. The California Ecosystems Protection Act AB 1788 prohibits most uses of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs), and states that rodenticides can be counterproductive to rodent control by poisoning, harming, and killing natural predators that help regulate rodent populations. All that is needed is a simple switch of pest management providers.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is both the name of the local preferred service provider and a multipronged management concept designed to efficiently manage pests without using rodenticides while protecting human health and environmental quality. Learn more about Integrated Pest Management here. 

Secure Waste Bins

It is critical to store your trash, recycling, and compost containers in a locked, wildlife-safe enclosure—even on collection day. The Preserve’s service package with Waste Management is arranged for weekly garbage collection to access your containers from secured areas. Please contact Resident Services with questions or to schedule a visit to review options for enclosures and locking mechanisms. 

Protect the Night Sky

Indoor and outdoor lighting can disorient birds, bats, and other wildlife, especially at night. There is no substitute for a naturally dark sky, but several design considerations can limit light pollution on The Preserve.

  • Placement: The Preserve Design Guidelines require outdoor lighting to be angled downward, shielded from direct view, and positioned as low to the ground as possible. Uplighting, adjustable, and multi-directional lighting are not permitted on The Preserve.
  • Wattage: Outdoor lighting may not exceed 25 incandescent or 3.5 LED watts. 
  • Wavelength: Bulbs using long wavelengths (560 nm or greater) are preferable, as some species are negatively affected by light with shorter wavelengths.  
  • Light fixtures: “Full cutoff” fixtures are required for exterior lighting to ensure light dispersion is minimized.
  • Timers: Some lighting systems can be programmed for specific times of the day, limiting your energy usage and reducing light exposure to wildlife. 
  • Motion-activated lighting: Consider installing motion-activated lighting that only turns on when triggered by sensors. 
  • Indoor light mitigation: Bright interior lighting can create night-time illumination that can impact wildlife. Window shades or deeper eaves can help mitigate the dispersion of light from your interior living spaces. 
  • Holiday decorations: Though temporary holiday decorations are permitted on The Preserve, please consider using an automatic shut-off timer to reduce nighttime ambient light. 

Prevent Entanglement & Entrapment

Wildlife entrapment occurs when an animal gets stuck in something like a swimming pool and cannot get itself out. Entrapments are often an unintended consequence of home construction but can be mitigated with several design considerations:

Swimming pools: Inground swimming pools are a common cause of wildlife entrapment, especially infinity pools with a “trough” at one end. Consider pool designs that incorporate ledges around the perimeter or consider adding a ramp to your design that can be used by wildlife to exit the water. 

Fountains and ponds: Like swimming pools, most artificial bodies of water can entrap wildlife. Consider incorporating ledges or ramps in your design to provide an exit.

Open-ended pipes: Irrigation, drainage, and other home utilities occasionally have pipes that “daylight” above ground. Consider using wire mesh screens or other covers to prevent wildlife from entering your pipes. 

Window wells: These are most problematic around the base of your home but can be improved with coverings to prevent entrapments. 

Chimneys: Consider fire-safe screening to prevent entrapments, tree litter, and other objects from entering your chimney.  

Story poles: Before you get your building permits, wildlife can become entangled in loose and unsecured story pole netting. Story poles identify the home corners and massing, and when left standing too long, they can be a danger to wildlife. Please be thoughtful about removing the story pole staking and orange mesh when it is no longer necessary.

Fencing: Fences are allowed only within the Homeland and cannot be built taller than 6 feet high. All fence designs must be approved by the Design Review Board (DRB) before installation. A wildlife-friendly fence is low enough for wildlife to jump over and high enough for their young to crawl under, with smooth wire separated by 12 inches or more to minimize entanglement. If you wish to protect your garden from wildlife, be aware that each species will require a different type of fencing:

  • Deer: Fencing should not be taller than 6 feet; wire mesh is best, especially around your garden to prevent deer from entering. 
  • Wild boar: Fencing should be between 28 and 34 inches tall and buried 12 inches deep to minimize access from rooting. 
  • Bears: Fencing should be removable with low-voltage electrification. However, if bears find food on your property and begin to associate your home as a food source, electric fencing may not be a sufficient deterrent. Please contact the Conservancy for further information.
  • Mountain lions: Fencing is not a suitable deterrent. These agile predators are expert climbers and can scale trees up to 50 feet tall. 

Keeping Pets

Given that your pets may interact with wildlife, it is important to manage these interactions to avoid causing harm or stress to our wild residents and for the safety of your pet. Please consider the following simple tips to avoid wildlife conflicts.

Dogs should never be allowed to roam freely without supervision. Consider a secure enclosure for them to enjoy outside your home to avoid disturbing other residents or wildlife. Keep dogs on a leash when walking or hiking on The Preserve. Dogs, especially puppies, may not realize the risk of chasing rattlesnakes, raccoons, skunks, and other wildlife that can harm them. 

Adept predators that they are, cats must be kept indoors or in an escape-proof patio to protect songbirds, reptiles, and wild mammals.