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Wildlife Damage Management - An Introduction

Many lawyers are familiar with liability issues related to pest control companies. However, most don't know about a sister field called wildlife damage management. Wildlife damage management has significant liability issues as well but is not as familiar or understood by the public. This article details some of the key differences.

When most people hear me say, “I work in the field of wildlife damage management.” I get a blank stare or they ask if I am a pest controller. Wildlife damage management is that field of activity that seeks to resolve conflicts between vertebrates (animals with a spine) and humans. For example, raccoons in chimneys, squirrels in attics, moles in the yard, woodchucks in the garden, and skunks under the deck.

Since most people aren’t familiar with the field, I thought it would be helpful to provide readers with some basic definitions and concepts to help give you some background.

While wildlife damage management has many similarities with pest control (a.k.a. exterminators), there are a number of significant differences as the table below shows. Please note: the following table is a generalization of national trends. Some states have significant regulation of wildlife control, while others have little.

Pest Control
1.Handles insects, and invasive animals, such as mice, rats, pigeons, house sparrows, and starlings.
2.Typically uses pesticides and chemicals.
3.Regulated by the State’s Agriculture Agency.
4.Entrance exam is required .
5.Usually is insured.
6.Worker titles: Pest control operator (PCO) or Pest management professional (PMP).
7.Often has little to no experience with wildlife

Wildlife Damage Management
1. Handles vertebrates (animals with a spine) often classified as game (animals that are hunted)or furbearing animals (animals hunted or trapped for fur), but can also handle non-game and invasive (animals not native to the area and are destructive to the habitat) species.
2.Rarely uses chemicals or pesticides, and instead employs traps, shooting, and exclusion.
3.Usually regulated by State Fish and Game Agencies.
4.Entrance exam may be required
5.May or may not be insured.
6.Worker titles vary but can include: Problem animal controller (PAC), Nuisance wildlife control operator (NWCO), Wildlife control operator (WCO) and Nuisance trapper.
7.Often have significant experience handling wildlife

The list shows some significant differences between pest control and wildlife damage management, not only in the methods of control but also the level of regulatory oversight. Legally speaking, wildlife damage management is a brave new world. As animal rights activity continues to increase and wildlife populations conflict with human interests, expect legal conflicts in this field to grow.

By Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC
Expert Witness Wildlife Damage Management Animal Control
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen M. Vantassel
Stephen M. Vantassel runs the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management ( at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has authored, The Wildlife Removal Handbook and the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook as well as numerous articles on wildlife control.

Copyright Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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