When Jack Murphy from Urban Wildlife Rescue Inc endorses an article on humane wildlife control, our ears prick up. And when we see the author is Katherine McGill from 411 Raccoon Solutions (FL), we’re all in.
This is such an important read. It was written for humane wildlife control operators, but it’s chock-full of good information for the rest of us. Please give it the attention it deserves and have it ready next time you see some amateurs on FB or Nextdoor spouting off on what does and doesn’t work when it comes to “nuisance” wildlife.
Successful catch or utter failure? The perils of trapping and relocating.
by Katherine McGill, 411 Raccoon Solutions
You never know if the animal you caught is the “guilty party”, or just one drawn to the free meal in your trap. Pretty much any 10 year old can bait a trap and catch something. Frankly, it is downright lazy and cruel – and ineffective. You dump this animal miles away and believe you spared his or her life.
Hopefully, the animal was not a mother and her babies were not left to perish, slowly. When they are found, even if they are alive, it is too late for any happy ending. Their mother is long gone, having gone frantic for being separated from them, terrified in a foreign land… while we tell ourselves how lucky she is to have been relocated?? These heartbroken now-orphans will cost a volunteer rehabilitator several hundred dollars, months of time, risk of communicable shelter disease, and less-than-optimum survival skills without their mother. Now, multiply this one single “good deed” times tens of thousands, year after year… Is that humane? For whom?
Fact: When resolving a “nuisance” animal issue, there is no such thing as “humane trapping and relocation”.
Fact: There is no idyllic place where existing animals welcome newcomers dumped in their territory. None.
As of this writing, we have 15 years of GPS raccoon translocation studies to prove this isn’t humane and has poor survival rates – just 18%. We have hard science proving conflicts are best resolved in situ; i.e., on site, and not with removal. More than 90% of conflicts today can be resolved without removing the animal.
With rules and regulations that allow people to freely trap and relocate wildlife while knowing it is by far the undesirable approach, what can we do as advocates to ensure proper actions are taken and that the science (and our intent to do our best by them) is upheld and better achieved?
1) Recommend people to the most qualified sources we have available to us today. Know your own limitations in this field, especially if you are not a trained humane wildlife conflict operator. Most people will appreciate your suggestions and compassion, but make no mistake that they still want their resolution ASAP. If suggestions are all you can offer, get better at them. If you’re an HWCO, never “close” an inquiry without putting the number of a trusted HWCO in their hands.
Animal Help Now offers the most complete listing of humane wildlife conflict operators (HWCOs). Simply click “Wildlife Conflict” to find operators in your area.
Even if there is no HWCO close by, you will still be provided with nationwide consultants who will provide guidance free of charge. Most of these Specialists will help people to hire and properly guide a local NWCO provider. They, the paying customer, can dictate what methods are used by any NWCO they need to hire if they know specifically what to demand is done. (NWCO = “Nuisance” wildlife control operator, AKA “trapper”.)
2) Do not throw out a dozen “remedies” as if they alone are silver-bullet complete resolutions, especially without knowing the full story and circumstances. Wildlife conflict resolution involves many steps, with a critical goal of an end result that does not harm animals and prevents the conflict from happening again.
The more these “humane remedies” are bandied about the more they risk failing. Any failure results in less respect and traction for the HWCO industry to prevail and change the paradigm. (The conventional trapping industry loves it when a humane idea fails, and they love to talk about that time it failed as if it always fails.)
3) Do not rush to get babies to a rehabilitator until it is the absolute last resort. Job #1 is to reunite healthy babies with their mothers. Please know your limitations on advising reuniting steps. What works for one age may be unsafe for another age, etc. Nothing feels more awesome than succeeding with a reunite!
Never accept assertions that “there’s no mother around.” Push for more information; more often than not this reveals the possibility she still is.
4) Change your state “nuisance” rules and regulations, get engaged. As long as the rules allow our wildlife to be killed/removed merely for being seen, we are all failing. By all of us, I mean every human on this planet. Every advocate, every “science-abiding” state agency, every animal control law enforcement department charged with upholding state animal cruelty statutes, and every conventional operator selling the worst (the least effective and most expensive) services/solutions to uninformed consumers.
Change starts with you!