A well-built natural pond will attract a wide variety of wildlife. While you may not mind the small birds and insects that visit the pond for drinking water or hunting, you likely won’t want larger animals like dogs, bears, bobcats, and muskrats visiting the pond. Larger birds like herons and mammals like raccoons are known for emptying ponds of their fish within a few days or nights of repeated visits. A few simple improvements will protect your pond from wildlife without discouraging smaller animals and birds.
Fencing the Pond
Fencing is the best option for keeping larger animals away. If your swimming pond will have steep or slick banks covered in concrete, larger animals like deer can slip and fall in to create a health hazard. Fencing also discourages animals like raccoons and possums from coming to the water’s edge and digging up your water plants or eating your fish. You may need a chain link fence with an angled top to keep climbing mammals from reaching the pond.
Adding False Predators
Decoy predators are great for discouraging visitors from hanging around the edges of the pond. Small mammals like muskrats, rats, and even skunks often like to dig in the banks of small ponds to create dens near a source of fresh water. Hanging fake owls and herons in the area around the pond can frighten away these frustrating pests. False snakes are also discouraging to many small rodents that can cause damage to the banks of a pond.
Bird netting suspended over the surface of the pond can also go a long way in keeping herons and other predatory birds away from your fish. Unfortunately, it’s also hard to hang in a way that you can continue swimming in the pond. If swimming is your main goal, you’ll likely need to hang netting temporarily so you can remove it every time you want to go for a dip. Consider relocating your fish from your swimming pond if netting is your only option for keeping them safe.