Principles of Wildlife Damage Management




What’s This All About?. 

How to Use This Manual 

Module 1        Principles of Wildlife Damage Management 

Learning Objectives. 

Terms to Know.. 

Principle 1 – Wildlife are not Pests. 

Principle 2 – When Animals become Pests. 

Principle 3 – Prevent Wildlife Damage. 

Principle 4 – Objectives of Control 

Principle 5 – Be Knowledgeable of Damage. 

Principle 6 – Be knowledgeable of Biology. 

Key Concept – Overabundance. 

Principle 7 – Strategies to Reduce Conflicts. 

Principle 8 – Conflict is Inevitable. 

Principle 9 – Respect Public Attitudes. 

Principle 10 – Regulation is OK. 

Study Questions. 


What’s This All About?

If you are reading this manual, then you are interested in the occupation of a wildlife control operator (WCO) and the methods of wildlife damage management (WDM). There are federal and state regulations regarding the taking, controlling, and disposition of wildlife. WCOs can be trappers, hunters, pest control operators, or avid outdoors people. There are many legal regulations and public attitudes that have shaped the wildlife damage management business. The history of the changing public and legal policies of wildlife control will be interesting to technicians wanting to become more deeply involved in the business.

This training manual has several goals:

·        To help you learn the principles of wildlife damage management and their application to vertebrate pest management.

·        To provide you with an understanding of the occupational standards and activities of wildlife control operators,

·        To help you use an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy to solve human-wildlife conflicts,

·        To provide you the best research-based wildlife species and wildlife damage management information available.

What is Wildlife Damage Management?

It is an integrated approach to dealing with the negative impacts of wildlife that also minimizes risks to the environment and our health and well-being. It is the timely use of a variety of cost-effective, environmentally safe, and socially acceptable methods to reduce human-wildlife conflicts to a tolerable level.

Insects and weeds provide consistent pressures on human habitats and it becomes necessary to schedule pest control techniques. Problems with nuisance wildlife are intermittent. No “magic pills” are available for dealing with problems caused by wildlife. No single, simple remedy can be relied upon to solve all of the problems you will encounter.

At times, you may even need a different solution for the “same” problem. Your favorite method for removing a raccoon from a chimney may not work at a particular house, for example, because access to the roof is limited. Often, effective long-term solutions involve the use of several methods, such as a combination of removal, exclusion, and habitat modifications. So there’s another reason to master a variety of tools and techniques. One day you are a trapper and on another you may be a carpenter or a landscaper.

Recommended methods are based on the best available information, which includes scientific knowledge and the field experience of wildlife biologists and wildlife control operators (WCOs). As we learn more and refine the tools and techniques of the trade, our methods keep improving. That’s why we urge you to keep learning throughout your career. Join a professional organization that puts you in touch with other WCOs and look for online resources.

How to Use This Manual

You can jump around in the book and look at different modules. How you learn the material doesn’t matter much; what counts is how well you master the subject. You need to know the content in the training modules.

Each module follows this format:

·        Learning objectives

·        Module text

·        Review questions

Pay attention to the learning objectives. Read the text. Make sure you can answer the review questions.  The certification exam is linked to the learning objectives and based on the content in this book. If you master those points, you should be able to pass the test.

If you need species and damage control information, go to the Wildlife Species Information at the end of the training modules. You can refer to the species information long after you have passed a test and received your license.  Keep this book as a reference for later or share it with someone who might want to become a wildlife control operator.

For those who want to work through the manual in depth, here are a few ideas that should help you work smarter, not harder. First, before you launch into the module, read the learning objectives. They will give you an idea of what’s coming and what matters most. When you are finished reading the module, read the learning objectives again. You should understand them now. If you stumble over one, re-read that section of the manual. If there’s a term you don’t know, check the glossary. When you are done reading the module, answer the review questions; this will help you decide if you have mastered the material.

Wildlife control and wildlife damage management (WDM) is an exciting industry with work that often is performed outdoors. It provides rewards through customer satisfaction and successful completion of a job. You do not need a university education to become a competent, effective, and successful WCO, but you do have to master many skills from trapping to fencing and understanding and using hand tools and construction equipment to repair and fabricate wildlife control materials.

Animals, people, complex buildings and structures, environmental issues, and laws and regulations will make, and keep, your job interesting and challenging.

The National Wildlife Control Training Program (NWCTP) was created to provide professional training information for WCOs. Despite rapid growth within the WDM industry, many states still lack meaningful training standards and requirements for WCOs. Wildlife agencies often lack adequate staff, funding, and expertise required to deliver training for WCOs.

The NWCTP supports state agencies that want to adopt standard training programs. Faculty from Cornell University, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and other land-grant Universities, collaborated to develop a comprehensive training program for WCOs working in the field of WDM. The NWCTP focuses on providing research-based control methods for a variety of wildlife species using the latest damage management and animal handling techniques within a problem solving and management framework of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Every WCO needs to learn the basic principles of vertebrate pest management and the methods of WDM and understand how to use information about wildlife to solve human-wildlife conflicts.

States that have adopted the training program for certification require a passing grade of 80% or better on the online exam for WCOs to be licensed to conduct wildlife control work.

Some states require that copies of all applicable federal permits and applicator licenses must be submitted when a WCO completes the application to be permitted to capture and control wildlife. Additional state hunting and trapping laws may apply and additional licenses may be required. Failure to abide by terms as described within the issued permit may be grounds for prosecution or revocation of the permit.

The NWCTP provides the basic information that professional WCOs need to work effectively in the field. Not only does it cover animal handling and management techniques, but it covers important issues such as Professionalism, Physical Safety, Wildlife Diseases, and Humane Dispatch. This training program is also available in a high-quality online format with a certificate of completion.

The NWCTP has many advantages as a national training program for WCOs:

  1. No geographical constraints; the training program is suitable for WCOs anywhere in North America.
  2. Recognizes the diversity of activities and complex decisions WCOs face each time they perform their jobs.
  3. Provides core training to help new WCOs gain knowledge quickly.
  4. Encourages feedback from stakeholders with the goal of improving the training program.
  5. Enables training to be adapted for the needs of individual state wildlife agencies and companies seeking to use the curriculum.
  6. Provides valuable information on wildlife management and animal handling for a variety of common problem species.

NWCTP provides advanced training in all aspects of the control of wildlife damage and animal handling and disposition of the animals. Especially important is the second half of the book on Wildlife Species Information, which contains information for reducing damage caused by dozens of wildlife species. Once you learn the basics of being a WCO, you will need to master knowledge of the various wildlife species. We provide the best biological and habitat information, and the most effective management and handling techniques. We tell you what works based on research. To maximize your effectiveness, you need to use the wildlife species information effectively.

Photo courtesy of Paul D. Curtis.

We want to make the training program better for you. Reach out to us. We are accessible by email, through industry forums, and through your University Cooperative Extension service. We are here to help you be better in what you do. If you have ideas, we want to hear them.

This manual is meant to be useful after you have passed your exam, as well. Information on managing wildlife damage comes after the core professional training modules. Each wildlife account summarizes basic biological facts and techniques for dealing with species that cause damage. The species accounts were written specifically with WCOs in mind, to answer questions that other resources don’t address.

Module 1 Principles of Wildlife Damage Management

Learning Objectives

1.      Explain when and why an animal becomes or can be classified as a pest.

2.      Explain the primary reasons why integrated wildlife damage management (IWDM) is about managing damage from wildlife, and not the management of wildlife.

3.      Define what it means to be a wildlife control operator?

4.      Explain the differences between biological and cultural carrying capacity, and how each relates to WDM.

5.      Explain the 5 key objectives addressed when applying IWDM methods.

6.      Explain why knowledge of the biology of the animal causing the conflict is important.

7.      List the major strategies for resolving human-wildlife conflicts.

8.      Explain why considering public attitudes and values towards wildlife is important.

9.      Explain why training makes a wildlife control professional more competent in the field.

Terms to Know

Biological carrying capacity   The maximum number of individuals of a given population that an environment can sustain.

Cultural carrying capacity (CCC)   The number of animals that a human or human community will tolerate in a given area.

Exclude   To prevent access, such as with the use of fences, netting, or securing holes.

Integrated pest management (IPM)   An environmentally-responsible approach to pest management that involves the timely use of a variety of cost-effective methods to reduce damage to a tolerable level.

Relocation   Moving an animal, but keeping it within its home range. Many people mistakenly believe that relocation means moving an animal outside of its home range.

Repel   To drive away.

Translocation   Moving a nuisance animal from one place to another outside of its home range.

Wildlife has an important role in the environment and adds beauty to our world. Based on the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation,Based on the 2016 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, over 103 million US residents fished, hunted, or watched wildlife in 2011. They spent almost $157 billion pursuing these recreational activities. Unfortunately, wildlife can damage property, be a nuisance, and pose threats to human health and safety. Economic losses associated with wildlife damage approach $3 billion annually, demonstrating a clear need for effectively addressing negative impacts. The purpose of this manual is to provide the basic information needed to help people resolve conflicts with wildlife.

This training manual is designed to help professionals manage wildlife problems by proposing solutions based on the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) or Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM).). The manual covers the basic knowledge needed to effectively deal with a variety of wildlife issues. It focuses on techniques appropriate for WCOs seeking to acquire a state permit or certification of competency. We list the principles and knowledge goals necessary to professionally perform integrated wildlife damage management (IWDM). Fortunately, most people can master the techniques required to resolve wildlife conflicts using IWDM problem solving methodology.

Integrated wildlife damage management (IWDM) is the application of methods to resolve conflicts from vertebrate species that cause problems or damage property.

Whether the conflict with wildlife is simple or complex, your response should follow the highest ethical standards. Federal, state, and local laws and regulations must be obeyed. Safety practices should be followed. You will need knowledge of the biology, habitats, signs, and damage caused by various species. Be sure to review the species information after the training modules.

Animal-handling and control techniques must be learned, practiced, and mastered. If an animal must be killed or euthanized, it should be done as humanely as possible.

Wildlife damage management is founded in the traditions of hunting and trapping. Many state and federal regulations regarding the control of certain species are based on hunting and trapping regulations. Do not hesitate to contact state and federal wildlife officials if the damage situation is complex or if safety issues exist. If you have concerns about your ability to handle a wildlife problem with appropriate care and diligence, do not hesitate to work with other qualified WCOs. Many states may require a trapping license to capture wildlife, professional certification and licensing for animal removal and transport, and the use of regulated toxicants, or some type of permit for trapping and removal.

wildlife control operator (WCO) is an individual trained to solve problems from wildlife damage and nuisance wildlife situations, usually for profit. In some states, a WCO may be called an Animal Damage Control Operator (ADCO), Animal Control Agent (ACA) or Wildlife Damage Control Agent (WDCA). Technically, a WCO is a specialist in vertebrate pest management with the ability to capture and remove an animal and repair and prevent the damage from occurring again. In this book we use the term WCO to include all technicians trained in WDM methods.

Wildlife damage management is an outgrowth of urbanization and human-wildlife conflicts from an abundance of animals in suburban backyards, houses, and outbuildings. Laws and regulations pertaining to hunting and trapping may or may not apply to nuisance wildlife damage issues depending on the season and the species involved. The training and skills required to hunt and trap are similar to some of the control methods for WDM. A different set of skills, however, is also needed to manage wildlife in urban and suburban settings.

A wildlife control operator (WCO) is a professional trained to solve problems from wildlife damage and nuisance wildlife situations, usually for profit, and licensed or permitted by the government.

The management of wildlife causing damage has ethical, economic, social, and biological dimensions. Concerns about animal welfare, property damage, safety, species diversity, and habitat destruction pose philosophical questions that must be answered professionally, fairly, and legally. Public awareness, appropriate legal oversight, and research by wildlife professionals are required to make sure that human-wildlife conflicts are managed properly.

In this book we use the term WCO to reference technicians trained in IWDM methods. We use the term WCO to refer to someone who is designated to perform wildlife control services for a landowner or commercial property owner, most often for a fee.

A fundamental question is what constitutes a wildlife pest? Animals are in many cases protected by the law, and even when they can be lethally removed, it should be done to resolve an unacceptable amount of damage or risk. It is important to recognize that any animal that may currently be a pest to one or more persons, may at the same time be either desirable, or of neutral value to someone else. There is no such thing as good animals and bad ones. Whether an animal is beneficial, neutral, or undesirable depends entirely upon one’s relationship with it.

What is needed is a simple definition of an “unwanted” animal and methods to resolve, eliminate, or mitigate the human-wildlife conflict.

Wildlife damage management (WDM)
is the application of methods to resolve conflicts
 from vertebrate species that cause damage, create safety issues, or are considered a nuisance.

Principle 1 – Wildlife are not Pests

Animals are not considered pests until they create a conflict with humans, their habitats and resources, and/or values.

Principle 2 – When Animals become Pests

Animals can be called pests when they cause:

1.      Damage to food, crops, fiber, crops, buildings, vehicles, landscapes, and other natural resources;

2.      Safety issues from wildlife attacks, threats to human health, vehicle and safety issues from diseases, collisions, and

3.      Nuisance from noise, odors, excrement, and other unwanted behaviors.

Wildlife that have unwanted behaviors are deemed pests and can be controlled outside of typical hunting and trapping seasons, sometimes with special permits, by wildlife control operators following all local, state, and federal regulations.

Principle 3 – Prevent Wildlife Damage

The objective of integrated wildlife damage management (IWDM) is to mitigate or prevent the conflicts caused by the animals, and not just the control or elimination of the wildlife itself.

Principle 4 – Objectives of Control Methods

WCOs have 5 objectives when applying WDM methods:

1.      Reduce damage to a tolerable level;

2.      Use methods that are low risk for people, non-target animals, and the environment;

3.      Implement control and habitat modifications efficiently and economically;

4.      Use humane and ethical methods when capturing and disposing of wildlife; and

5.      Follow all local, state, and federal laws.

Reduce Damage to a Tolerable Level

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses all appropriate pest control strategies to reduce pest populations to an acceptable level. WCOs perform integrated wildlife damage management (IWDM).

Set reasonable goals. Propose a solution that solves the problem. WCOs should avoid creating fear in clients, as this could lead to an overreaction to wildlife on their property. People should accept that there is a difference between a raccoon living in an attic and a raccoon walking through the backyard (Figure 1). Be respectful and listen when clients explain their feelings about an animal. Do not reinforce inappropriate stereotypes or become drawn into a “problem” that does not need to be solved. On the other hand, don’t use your clients’ fear of animals just to sell a job. Using the clients fear to sell a job is unethical.


Figure 1. Young raccoons on a deck. Are they a threat? Photo by Steve Stronk.

The focus of IWDM is to reduce or eliminate damage, not just reduce the number of animals in an area. Remind your clients that the goal is to solve a specific problem., not remove all the animals in the area. Target only the animals causing the conflict, and not all the species themselves.

IWDM problem-solving framework

·        Identify the problem species and damage.

·        Consider a variety of solutions.

·        Implement the least harmful, most cost-effective strategies.

·        Monitor the problem to ensure that it has been solved.

·        Evaluate the effectiveness of the solution.

Use Cost-effective Methods

If the expense of resolving a problem is more than the cost of the problem itself, it may not be practical to control the animal causing the damage. On the other hand, a $250 stainless-steel chimney cap may seem expensive, but when a client understands that the chimney cap will protect a chimney from animal entry for decades, the cost may be reasonable. If the cap lasts 20 years, the annual cost of the cap is just $12.50. Thus, a chimney cap provides a long-term, inexpensive, and permanent solution, and provides clients with a tested method for excluding wildlife from chimneys.

Use Safe Methods

People dealing with wildlife damage may be under stress, which could lead them to encourage the use of hazardous or illegal techniques. Just because a technique or method works does not mean it should be used. For example, mixing strychnine with cat food or putting out a bowl of radiator antifreeze may be effective in killing opossums and raccoons. These techniques, however, are irresponsible and illegal. Poisoning non-target animals can result in unnecessary suffering. Recommend only the techniques that are most appropriate, effective, legal, and safe for resolving the problem.

Use humane and ethical methods

Wild animals are part of the public trust and need to be treated with respect. People want to control damage from animals, not kill and hurt animals by neglect and inhumane dispatch methods.

Follow all local, state, and federal laws

Wildlife control is regulated in most states. If there are no permitting requirements for WCOs, there are still hunting and trapping laws. WCOs must make every effort to follow government laws and regulations.

If a client requests something beyond what you know to be legal, ethical, or safe, you should suggest more reasonable alternatives, or consider declining the job.

Principle 5 – Identify and Explain Damage from different species of Wildlife

A Wildlife Control Professional needs to be knowledgeable of both the animals and the associated damage that they may cause, and have the ability to:

1.      Identify common wildlife species;

2.      Identify the damage caused by wildlife, and which species is responsible;

3.      Be aware of the variation in damage in agricultural, urban, and suburban environments; and

4.      Know the different problems associated with native vs. introduced wildlife.

Principle 6 – Learn and Understand Wildlife Biology

People conducting IWDM need to be knowledgeable about the biology of problem wildlife so that they understand basic population dynamics, including carrying capacity and overabundance. A common species does not become overabundant until it creates conflicts with people.

Knowledge of basic biology includes:

1.      Litter size and time of reproduction;

2.      Behavioral and seasonal characteristics;

3.      Typical home range size and habitat use;

4.      Potential of animals to spread diseases.

Key Concept – Overabundance

Overabundance occurs when the population of a species of wildlife has exceeded both the biological and cultural carrying capacity. For one reason or another, the environment cannot handle that number of animals. Too much food and shelter may creates overabundance.

The biological carrying capacity (BCC) is the number of animals in a population that an environment can sustain without long-term detrimental impacts. For example, when white-tailed deer become overabundant, a browse-line appears on shrubs, trees, and ornamentals. Plants will have few live branches below 6 feet, undergrowth will be dramatically limited, and plant diversity will be reduced due to over-browsing. Eventually, the deer population will decline due to starvation, disease, and competition. Long-term environmental damage will occur long before the deer population declines.

Cultural carrying capacity (CCC) refers to the number of animals in a population that people are willing to tolerate, based on the balance of environmental and social benefits and costs. For example, some people are willing to tolerate a lot of deer damage, and they are influenced by the benefits experienced from viewing and hunting deer. Some people cannot tolerate a single snake or a wild animal in their yard.

Population Dynamics

Problems with wildlife typically are greater when suitable habitat (food, water, and shelter) are available. As the habitat changes, so does the wildlife population. When a client asks, “Why did the animals choose my house and property?” the simple answer is because their home and landscape supplied necessary resources (e.g., food, cover, water, and resting areas). Environmental or behavioral factors eventually will limit animal abundance (Figure 2).

Figure 2. For many ground-nesting birds, safe nesting sites often are limited. Image by Paul D. Curtis.

However, people’s tolerance may be exceeded long before animal numbers reach levels where environmental or behavioral factors limit population growth.

Wildlife populations are not static. Wildlife populations may fluctuate dramatically, both within and among years. Reasons for the fluctuations vary but the populations usually go up with food, shelter, and good weather. Rodent and other prey populations frequently increase in numbers responding to suitable environmental conditions such as sufficient rainfall and mild winters. As the number of prey animals increases, the number of predators can increase, although usually in the following year. Local wildlife populations may change due to human activity such as residential development, the addition or removal of bird feeders or gardens, and improper trash storage (Figure 3).

bear in dumpster

Figure 3. Bear populations and conflicts may increase when garbage and other food attractants are not stored properly. Image by iSportsman.

Will Predators Solve the Problem?

A common misconception is that wildlife is “out of balance” with nature because humans have removed predators from the system. While it is true that populations of many large predators have been reduced dramatically, it is unlikely that restoring their numbers to pre-settlement levels would solve many human-wildlife conflicts. Often, human tolerance of damage by wildlife is quite low. Homeowners do not want to have fewer squirrels in their attic; they want NO squirrels in their attic. Predators typically do not control populations of prey. If a predator substantially reduces prey populations, the predator would threaten its own existence by eliminating its source of food. For example, bats foraging in a yard will never make the area free of insects.

Even a cat that is skilled at catching mice often cannot control a rodent infestation in a house (Figure 4). In addition, many predators are not selective in their choice of prey, so non-target animals likely will be taken, for example cats may also like to kill non-target birds.


Figure 4. While often recommended, cats are not very effective at controlling rodents. Image in Pixaby Public Domain.

Principle 7 – Methods for Wildlife Damage Management

IWDM includes many methods to reduce wildlife conflicts. They are generally classified into the following categories:

1.      Habitat manipulation and environmental management;

2.      exclusion;

3.      frightening methods;

4.      direct lethal control (e.g., trapping, shooting, and hunting);

5.      chemical controls (e.g., toxicants and repellents); and

6.      biological controls (e.g., guarding animals, raptors, etc.).

Most methods for WDM fall into a few strategies.

1.      Habitat management and sanitation. Clean up and reduce the carrying capacity of the area, which will reduce the number of animals the habitat can sustain over time. Remove food and water sources that attract animals.

2.      Exclude or prevent animals from accessing locations like decks, soffits and vent pipes or garden and crop areas. Use fencing for large agricultural areas and netting for bird control.

3.      Repel or divert animals from the area using methods that frightening or are aversive by using sound, visuals display, smell, and by chemical repellents that are sticky or physically noxious.

4.      Reduce the number of animals by lethal and non-lethal control methods such as:   trapping, shooting or the use of toxicants.

a.      Trapping;

b.      Shooting; and

c.      Chemical methods.

Strategy 1   Habitat Management: Reduce Biological Carrying Capacity

Remove food, water, or shelter to reduce the biological carrying capacity and thus, the number of animals in an area. For example, if someone is having conflicts with mice, thorough clean up and removal of available food likely will reduce numbers (Figure 5). You could aggressively trap to reduce the population, but mice likely will reproduce faster than your trapping efforts can control them, particularly when plenty of food and shelter are available.

chipmunk eating seed

Figure 5. Spilled bird seed will attract rodents, often leading to structural damage and entry into homes. Photo in public domain.

Strategy 2.   Exclude Animals

Prevent access of animals to potential damage sites and to provide long-term protection from damage. Exclusion techniques include closing entry holes in buildings, installing bird nets over fruit trees, and constructing deer-proof fences around orchards. Development of exclusion techniques and devices is an active area of entrepreneurship, with new and interesting products frequently appearing in the market. Exclusion techniques typically require building skills like those of a carpenter. Tools and craftsmanship play an important role in professional WDM exclusion services. Poor exclusion methods can create problems with clients and the public image of WCOs.

Strategy 3   Repel or Divert Animals

Another IWDM strategy is to repel or divert animals from a location. Repellents are based on pain, fear, touch, or conditioned aversion. Several repellents and frightening devices are available, depending on the problem. Many of these products, however, have not been tested adequately under research conditions and may fail to prevent damage. Most repellents provide short-term control of wildlife conflicts.

Diversion is the process of luring animals away from protected sites, usually with a food attractant. Although this may sound good in theory, few practical applications exist. First, you need to find a food source that is more attractive than what the animal is currently using. Also, by increasing the availability of food, population levels may increase, adding to the potential for damage on the property. The effectiveness of diversion often is questionable. As for repellents, the effectiveness of diversion is almost always is short-term.

Strategy 4   Reduce or Eliminate the Number of Animals in an Area

The number of animals can be lowered using toxicants, trapping, or shooting. Such actions typically lead to a rapid decrease in the population to a level in which they, or their associated damage, can be tolerated. Lethal control alone, however, often fails to reduce long-term damage. As long as suitable habitat and food resources are available, populations may rebound quickly. Well-fed animals often have larger litters and greater success in raising young to maturity. Population reduction sometimes fails because animals often move into another area that has been vacated (Figure 6).

caged raccoon

Figure 6. A problem raccoon can be removed by trapping, but unless food is removed and openings are sealed, another animal may quickly move in and become a problem. Image by Paul D. Curtis.

For example, you may have successfully removed voles from one property at a given time. However, your client did not understand that other voles would quickly move in from neighboring properties where you did not have permission to work, and soon occupy the habitat previously used by the voles you removed. Some pest problems need to be managed by multiple property owners in order to provide a solution to the problem.

Translocation and Relocation

Translocation” means moving a nuisance animal from one place to another outside of its home range.

Relocation” refers to moving and releasing an animal within its home range. This is sometimes referred to as onsite release. This usually is a short distance away from where it was captured.

Moving animals through relocation or translocation is not recommended. Moving animals may spread disease or cause problems in new places.  If an animal must be moved, it should be moved as short a distance as possible. For the best chance of survival, the animal should be released within its home range.

Translocated animals rarely stay in the area of release and often have low survival rates because they do not find suitable habitat elsewhere. As a result, these translocated animals often experience a slow and stressful death, as opposed to a quick and humane death administered by a trained WCO. Many states prohibit translocating or relocating almost all species of wildlife, except when animals are removed from inside dwellings or structures and released in the immediate vicinity outside these buildings.

Humane Dispatch and Disposal

Humane dispatch refers to humanely terminating an animal’s life, if possible using veterinary approved methods for euthanizing animals. The body must be disposed of safely, legally, and ethically.

Principle 8 – Conflict is Inevitable

Some wildlife species thrive and adapt to urban and suburban environments. Conflict is inevitable. People performing IWDM provide a valuable service for stakeholders and the community. Wildlife and WCOs are always going to be part of the urban environment.

Whose Home?

Many people believe that wildlife cause damage to property because “humans have taken away their homes” or that urbanization has destroyed their natural habitats. When resources are available, wildlife is abundant and the animals are very comfortable in urban environments. Urban sprawl has reduced habitat for some animals such as forest birds and large predators, but it has created and supplied habitat and food for other more adaptable species such as gulls, raccoons, squirrels, rodents, and deer. Wildlife removal, exclusion work, and wildlife damage management are necessary services.

Principle 9 – Respect Public Attitudes

Peoples’ attitudes about wildlife vary greatly. Many people enjoy seeing wildlife, and species are protected by the public trust. Clients’ wishes should be considered when they are safe, legal, and practical.  All IWDM should be performed humanely, ethically, and as transparently, but discreetly, as possible. Resolve conflicts rather than just remove offending animals.

Principle 10 – Regulation and Standards OK

Licensing and training standards improve the working environment of wildlife control operators by applying consistent standards of professional behavior and knowledge, both legal and practical, of wildlife control methods, as well as standards for humanely dispatching and disposing of wildlife.