Corking a hole with paper to test for Wildlife Activity

gnawed plywood This is a great method to test whether or not a hole is abandoned.

The image at the right was a brand new piece of 1/2-inch plywood which was placed over a gray squirrel hole after it left. While the adult did leave, the carpenter neglected to think about the young she left behind. But the gray squirrel didn't forget! Photo by Stephen Vantassel.


NEVER, NEVER, seal off a hole without making sure that the hole is no longer being used by an animal.

Equipment needed

  • 2-3 sheets of newsprint (not glossy paper).
  • Painter's pole long enough to reach the hole with 6 inches to spare.


Step 1. Safety: Where are the power lines? It is critical that you know where the power lines and other dangers are. While you are angling a metal pole, you run the risk of electrocution if you get too close to power lines. Look for ground dangers. Are there drop offs or slopes that could cause you to fall while you are looking up and not paying attention to the ground? Keep your wits about you!!

Step 2. Take a few sheets of newsprint and wad it around the tip of your painter's pole. Wrap it around the tip so it won't fall off as you set up to place it into the hole.

pole & paper

Press the paper into the hole in a firm fashion to prevent it from falling out due to gravity or wind.

wad paper

push into hole

Step 3. Monitor. If the paper hasn’t moved in 3-4 days, then you know the hole is no longer being used and can be closed off. (Wait longer if the weather has been unusually severe. Animals den up, especially in wintertime during bad weather, sometimes up to two weeks or more e.g. raccoons). Don’t use this technique if you think the culprit is bats or birds. They will have difficulty getting out. NEVER, NEVER seal off any hole unless you are dead sure positive it isn't active. Failure to heed this advice can result in terrible consequences. As shown in the photo, I have crumpled paper on a painter's pole to help me put paper into the hole.

Skip Navigation Links