Hiring the right animal damage controller for your
Here is a letter I received from a person who hired an animal damage controller,
who for whatever reason, didn't follow proper procedure. WDC doesn't know if this
letter is true or that it has accurately portrayed all the facts. So please take
it as illustrative only. Stories like these are common (too common) in the industry.
let me be clear. Sometimes nwco's (nuisance wildlife control operators) don't follow
procedures because you the client won't let them because of price, so called humane
concerns etc. We just believe that sometimes the NWCO should be professional enough to say
NO to the client. In any event, the following letter should be illustrative as to why you
want a professional NWCO.
Hi, I hope I am doing this right. I need some help. I live in (state), near
(a city). And we have a mama raccoon who has given birth to some babies in our
chimney. The were living on the flue above the fireplace upstairs. We called
around and hired a guy to come and take care of it. We don't want to kill them,
we just want them to leave. So this guy came and dumped fox urine down the chimney,
but it didn't do anything. So we called again and he came back and dumped bobcat
urine and mothballs down the chimney. He said that he put it down both chimneys.
But the moma moved her babies to the downstairs fireplace flue and they are
very happily living there. We have a cat and do not want these two to meet,
because bad things would happen. Moma is not moving her babies, what should
we do? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! (name)
Don't let this problem happen to you. Reduce the risk
by asking the following questions
People who handle wildlife damage problems can be designated by a number of
- NWCO-means Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator
- WCO-means Wildlife Control Operator
- PAC- term used in Massachusetts, means Problem Animal Controller
- Pest Control-term is too vague as it normally refers to people who also
Qualifications of the NWCO
- Did the wildlife control operator give you a brochure? If yes, did it cover
the company's practices?, explain state laws, give a history of the company?
- Ask how many years in the animal control business? This question is not
to be confused with how many years in the Pest control business. Bug killing
is very different from controlling wildlife. (too many pest controllers start
doing animal damage control with little to no trapping or wildlife handling
- Find out if the person is licensed to do animal damage control work in the
state you live in. While some states don't require licenses, many do. Ask
if the person has completed a state certified trapping course.
- Ask if he/she is a member of the National Animal Damage Control Association?
This organization publishes a newsletter entitled The Probe that discusses
various issues surrounding animal damage control.
- Ask if he/she is a member of their state animal damage control association
(not every state has one but many do)
- Is your animal damage controller a Certified Wildlife Control Professional?
- Consult with your state's Environmental Police and Department of Natural
Resources to see if they have the proper licenses.
The Business Practices of the Wildlife Control Operator (WCO)
- How does the NWCO require payment? Be wary of companies that don't
appear established that require all the money up front. Any NWCO or reputable
company should be satisfied with 50% down and the remaining amount due upon
completion of the job.
- Does he/she put the job in writing with a complete contract.?
- Does the NWCO have liability insurance? If so how much? $100,000
of coverage is very easy to obtain in this industry. There is no excuse as
to why a NWCO can't have it.
- Does the NWCO have Workman's Comp insurance? This insurance protects
the worker if he gets injured on the job. Understand that most NWCO's are
self employed and so may not be required by law to have it. However, if they
have other employees they may have to have it.
- Does the NWCO give a guarantee? While any guarantee is only as good
as the NWCO who gives it, getting one at least suggests the person might be
in business long enough to back it.
- Did the NWCO present you with a variety of control options? Exclusion,
trapping, eviction, habitat modification or maybe even suggesting that nothing
be done? Understand that sometimes the NWCO doesn't present you with a variety
of options because you already gave him specific instructions. Don't be angry
at the NWCO if he does what you tell him. If you want to double check, ask
him if there are other possible solutions than the one you asked for? Better
yet, ask the NWCO if there are other control options than what he suggested.
- Think you are being overcharged? Consider the following: a.
how dangerous is the job? (ladder work is always dangerous) b. how
difficult is it to control the species? (Some species like grays are easy
to control. Others like reds can be more difficult). c. how much travel
and equipment is involved to resolve the problem? (If the NWCO has to travel
twenty miles one way to reach your location, he will need to get paid for
the time both ways). d. how expensive is it to live in your area? (NWCO's
in the Boston area get more money than those who live in W. Massachusetts).e.
what kind of warranty of guarantee does the wildlife control operator give?
Depending on the species, a month to a year is sufficient. Also, guarantees
are only as good as the company who gives them. If they go out of business,
the guarantee means nothing. f. Remember quality companies that have
insurance, good equipment and training have high costs. While high prices
don't guarantee quality, low prices almost always guarantee that the person
is not insured. Beware of low ballers. g. How busy is the NWCO? Sometimes
NWCO's raise prices due to excessive demand. Other times prices may be lower
due to reduced demand.
Workmanship of the Wildlife Control Operator
- Did the NWCO tell you about the lifecycle of the animal causing the problem
and the potential or non-potential of young being present?
- If you rent traps, did you ask if the wco flames the traps to kill various
potentially dangerous organisms that may be contaminating the trap. (This
is one reason why you should always wear gloves when handling traps).
- Be careful of anyone who says they are going to spray something to drive
the animal out. Some states do no allow chemicals to be used on wildlife.
I also have concerns about the effectiveness and/or safety of this technique.
(There are gray areas such as using fox urine to evict certain animals. On
technical grounds, the person probably should have a pesticide license and
the insurance that goes along with the license).
- Ask the contractor who is responsible for checking the traps? How often
are the traps to be checked. (The correct answer is the traps must be checked
daily including weekends and holidays. If you must check the traps then the
trapper must be available to remove the trapped animals).
- Does the contractor cover the cage traps with cloth or other product to
give the animal an area of shelter from sun, wind, rain etc? Contrary to popular
mythology, cage traps are not necessarily more humane than kill traps. Chances
are this item is not legally required by state law. But we see it as an animal
welfare issue. Does the animal damage controller want to fulfill the spirit
of the law?
- If the NWCO is making repairs to the house, will he need a contractors,
home improvement license? Some states require a license when any improvement
is done to a home such as installing a vent screen. Other states require a
license only when large jobs are being done like those that cost over 1000
dollars. Warning, a lot of these kinds of laws are arcane and not enforced
until something goes wrong so don't be surprised if the NWCO doesn't know
- Finally, ask yourself some questions. Are you willing to follow the person's
recommendations? If not then don't blame the NWCO for when something goes
Looking for a Wildlife Control Operator? Visit
For Goose related problems go to Goose Control Referrals
Need a WCO for other problems send an e-mail
- Brief description of the problem
- Zip Code
- Phone Area Code (we don't need your number just the area code)
Need to lodge a complaint? Go to ADCreferrals
print out form, fill it out and fax to 304-345-2448.
e-mail *all correspondence becomes property of WDC
Disclaimer: WDC seeks to provide accurate, effective and responsible information
on resolving human/wildlife conflicts. We welcome suggestions, criticisms to
help us achieve this goal. The information provided is for informational purposes
only and users of the information use it at their own risk. The reader must
consult state/federal officials to determine the legality of any technique in
the reader's locale. Some techniques are dangerous to the user and to others.
WDC encourages readers to obtain appropriate training (see our informational
literature at our Store ), and understand that proper animal damage
control involves patience, understanding that not every technique/method works
for every situation or even 100% of the time. Your use of this information is
governed by this understanding.
We welcome potential users of the information
and photos to simply ask for permission via e-mail. Finally, WDC welcomes
e-mail but understand that all e-mails become property of Wildlife Damage Control.