When to Contact a Professional

Some problems can easily be handled by landowners with limited wildlife experience. For example, it is simple and effective to set a snap-trap in a kitchen cabinet to catch a mouse eating stored foods. Also, netting can be put over fruit trees or bushes to prevent damage from fruit-eating birds. However, there are times when wildlife issues are much more complex and require professional skills or training. The following list provides examples of situations where professional expertise is needed.

  • Rabies-vector species– Bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, and coyotes are rabies-vector species and are more likely to transmit this disease to people or pets.  These species should only be handled by wildlife professionals with rabies pre-exposure immunization.
  • High-risk situations– Repairing damaged building soffits or chewed electrical wires is beyond the skill level of most homeowners.  It makes sense to contact a professional with the appropriate tools, PPE, and experience to complete the job safely and correctly.
  • Animals that are difficult to handle– No one wants to be sprayed by a skunk or create a messy clean-up.  In such situations, it is best to contact a professional who understands skunk behavior and can catch the animal while reducing the likelihood of spraying.  Also, catching coyotes or foxes requires expert skills in setting traps, and captured animals must be handled humanely. There are many similar situations where professional expertise is needed.
  • Pesticide applications– Sometimes situations are most quickly resolved with the effective use of registered pesticides. Certified pesticide applicators are trained to safely use effective toxicants or repellents while choosing low-risk, environmentally safe products. For example, toxic rodent baits must be placed properly to minimize poisoning of non-target species. The skill and experiences of licensed professionals should be considered when pesticide applications are required.
  • Site-specific considerations– Some sites pose unique wildlife management challenges.  For example, catching and removing birds from a public location such as a mall would require different methods and preparation than removing a starling from an attic.  Public perceptions, visibility, and risk need to be considered when assessing different sites and control methods.  Professionals should be consulted when dealing with wildlife in sensitive sites or situations.
  • Animal disposition– Many nuisance wildlife species can be easily trapped alive, but then, what do you do with the critter?  Before ever setting a trap, you need a plan for humanely dealing with whatever animal might be caught. Most homeowners either do not want to, nor have the expertise, to humanely euthanize a problem animal.  In some states, it is illegal to transport live animals off your property.  Professional wildlife control operators are trained to humanely dispose of unwanted pests.  In cases where healthy animals can be translocated, the license may allow for off-site transport and release.

The information on this webpage is based on the contents of the Wildlife Control Operator Professional Training Program published by the National Wildlife Control Training Program.