Brush piles can be of great benefit to smaller wildlife by creating places for them to hide, rest, and rear their young. However, even larger wildlife, such as bears, may utilize a brush pile. Fall is an ideal time to establish these piles because the absence of green plants and leaves over the winter months can leave some wildlife more exposed and vulnerable to predation and weather. Few wildlife management practices provide as much impact for the amount of time and effort required as brush piles do.
A brush pile is commonly constructed from a pile of limbs and other brush that permits the entry of small wildlife and excludes their predators. These piles can be made of limbs and trees, plant cuttings and prunings, leaf litter, as well as recycled items like scrap lumber, old pallets, plastic pipe, rocks, broken concrete, and discarded construction materials, if appropriate.
The size and type of materials used and the arrangement of these materials will determine the types of wildlife that will use your brush pile. For example, a pile of rocks will lure lizards and chipmunks, while brush piles constructed from prunings and downed trees will lure animals such as birds, turtles, rodents, and larger wildlife.
Consider the location of a brush pile carefully before you construct one. You will most likely not want the wild animals that may inhabit your brush pile to frequent the area around your home. It is best to locate a pile far enough away from structures so as not to become a problem.
Brush piles made of organic materials will not last forever. Over time they will decay and collapse. It is not advisable to construct a new pile over an old one. Consider building another pile close by before the first one has collapsed. Well-constructed piles can often remain functional for 10 years or more, and rock piles will last much longer, of course.
To aid the wildlife around your property, keep a brush pile available at all times. They can often be constructed in just a few minutes.