Mice Looking for Water

Mice treated with toxicants don't go outside looking for water. They die where they die. Photo by Stephen M.  Vantassel.

Mice treated with toxicants don’t go outside looking for water. They die where they die. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Many people who use toxicants (i.e. poison bait) to control mice, think that when mice consume the bait, they will go outside of the structure “looking for water.”  The notion of poisoned mice looking for water is a common one. I understand that some pest control operators even used the clause “mice looking for water” to convince the client to accept the use of toxicants on their property.

The fact is mice that consume toxicants die where they die. No pest control operator or wildlife control operator should be saying that they “know” where the mice will die. The most likely place for mice to die is their nest as they will seek the safety of their home as they begin to feel poorly. But as this photo to the right shows, there is no guarantee on where the mouse will die.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Does Home Insurance Cover Your Business?

Lots of wildlife control operators (WCO) start their businesses out of their house. Home-based

Insurance. Photo by GraphicStock.

Insurance. Photo by GraphicStock.

businesses has a long tradition in the U.S. But a recent article in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance raised the question whether your homeowner’s insurance will cover WCOs operating a business out of their house. I have heard of getting business insurance to cover your vehicle or truck. But I didn’t think of getting insurance for covering activities at your house.

Curious, I went online and found a page at http://www.allstate.com/tools-and-resources/business-insurance/home-based-business.aspx.  Sure enough, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover many business activities at your home. For example, receive shipments at your home? If the delivery guy slips and hurts himself, then your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the injuries. If you have a fire, your business equipment may not be covered by your fire insurance.

What should you do? Read your homeowner’s policy and look for gaps. Then consult with your insurance agent and inquire about additional coverage that will fill the gaps. You may be surprised that it is cheaper than you might expect.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional (CWCP). He is available for writing, research, consultation, expert testimony, wildlife damage identification, training, and education.  Articles may be reprinted provided they include my byline and URL of my blog. Photos may not be reprinted without express written permission.

Control Woodchucks

Act fast if you want to control woodchucks (Marmota monax).

Control Woodchuck (Marmota monax). Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Woodchuck (Marmota monax). Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

In the northern latitudes, woodchucks will be entering their burrows to hibernate. If you have woodchucks and don’t want them around for next year, then you only have a few weeks to control woodchucks before hibernation. As a general rule, woodchucks enter their dens in the first week of November for states at the latitude of Massachusetts.

Woodchucks found in locations more northerly than Massachusetts will hibernate sooner and those below later. For woodchucks in the deep south, they may not hibernate at all.

Don’t panic if you miss the window. Many woodchucks, particularly those born this year, will not survive the winter. But if they do, you will have another chance to control them in February when they emerge from hibernation very hungry. And hunger makes it easier to control woodchucks as they are easily lured into cage traps.

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control professional who helps individuals and property owners resolve conflicts with wildlife. He is available for research, writing, training, expert testimony, and consultation.  This article may be reprinted provided full credit including website address is included. Use of images requires written permission from the photographer.

Correcting Deer Rub Damage

Correcting Deer Rub Damage

Bucks damage young trees when they use the trees to scrape off the felt on their antlers. Sometimes the scraping damages the tree’s bark severely enough to kill the tree. More often, the tree can survive, provided the damage does not exceed 50% of the tree’s circumference.  If you have a tree that has been damaged, you can help its chances of surviving by following these steps.

Buck scrape that has severely damaged this tree. It will likely die. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Buck scrape that has severely damaged this tree. It will likely die. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

1. Remove loose strips of bark to make the surface smooth. This helps the tree heal faster.

2. Trim any broken branches to 1/4-inch from trunk.

3. Do not apply any wraps or paint. Wrapping attracts insects.

Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a CWCP. He provides consulting, research, writing, and other services to companies and individuals.

NWCOA Shooting Workshop

NWCOA Shooting Workshop

Shooting is an important but potentially risky tool used for wildlife damage management. Once the bullet leaves the gun, it can’t be taken back so it is critical that shooters have the skills and decision making ability to use the firearm appropriately. This is the reason behind NWCOA’s Shooting Workshop.

NWCOA Shooting Workshop (Sept, 2014) in Roanoke, VA. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

NWCOA Shooting Workshop (Sept, 2014) in Roanoke, VA. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

I had the privilege to attend the workshop which took place on September 21-22, 2014 in Roanoke, VA.

Training was led by Dr. Anthony DeNicola of White Buffalo, Inc. Dr. DeNicola has years of experience shooting in sensitive environments and is an exceptional marksman.

The training covered equipment, decision making, safety, marksmanship, gun cleaning, shot placement, and baiting.

NWCOA is planning to expand its training opportunities in shooting so if you need to improve your shooting abilities, stay tuned.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a CWCP. He offers consultation, writing, expert witness, and research support for clients.

Coexisting with Furbearers

Coexisting with Local Furbearers. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Coexisting with Local Furbearers. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Book Review: Coexisting with Local Furbearers: Good Practices in Management and Intervention by Gaétan Fournier. Quebec, Canada: Fédération des Trappeurs Gestionnaires du Québec, 2014. 248 pp.

Canada has had a long fur trapping tradition and coexisting with furbearers. With about 1/10th the population of the U.S. and about twice the land area, it’s a veritable trapping paradise. But even Canadians encounter conflicts with wildlife which need to be resolved.
This text is designed to train fur trappers in how to prevent and manage the conflicts caused by fur bearers. The guiding principle behind the book is to reduce the killing of valuable furbearing species outside the trapping season through the use of non-lethal techniques and targeted removals.
The book has 8 chapters: Introduction, managing human/wildlife conflicts, mandatory steps for professional operations, managing nuisance furbearing animals, the dilemma of translocation, repellents and their limitations, disposing of animal remains, and conclusion. , the bulk of the book falls under Chapter 4, managing nuisance furbearing animals. There readers will find detailed information on the biology, non-lethal control methods, lethal control methods, diseases, and other concerns, for beaver, muskrat, river otter, mink, squirrels, weasels, raccoon, skunk, red fox, coyote, wolf, and black bear. Note the information tends to center on damage issues affecting rural, livestock, infrastructure, and non-building settings. If you are looking for instructions on running a business in Columbus, OH, this is not the book for you.

Fournier included several appendices to cover important topics, such as diseases, selective trapping, attractants (i.e. baits/lures), and specialist equipment. Appendices contain important information that may not be expected given their placement in the appendices.
I had the privilege and pleasure to be a technical editor for this publication, so forgive me if I gush a bit about this book. It is smartly illustrated with beautiful color images and superb line drawings. Trappers interested in research-based wildlife control should get a copy of this text. I am confident that readers will improve their understanding of wildlife biology and techniques used to manage their damage.

To obtain a copy, send an e-mail containing your complete address, quantity desired to: ftgq@ftgq.qc.ca. FTGQ will send a PayPal invoice that will inform you about the price of the book and the shipping fees (all in Canadian dollars).

Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP®

http://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com

Bat Control-Don’t Get Scammed

Bat Control-Don’t Get Scammed

Gap in the slate roof used by bats to enter the structure. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Gap in the slate roof used by bats to enter the structure. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

I am blessed with the opportunity to learn about wildlife control activities around the US, and even some parts of the world. Recently, I learned about a business practice in the wildlife control industry that I found troubling.

These individuals had bat infestations/problems and were told by the pest control operator/wildlife control operator that there was no guarantee that the bat problem would be resolved if the client hired them. Unfortunately, one of the people actually signed a contract explicitly stating this and paid out more than 1,000 dollars. I felt sorry for a customer who paid good money for a service that she/he knew would not necessarily solve the problem and given the phone call I received, clearly didn’t.

Warning

I would strongly suggest that customers avoid signing any contract for control of a bat infestation (i.e. bats are actively living INSIDE the structure) that fails to guarantee eviction of the bats.  While there are a FEW instances where a wildlife control operator or pest control operator can’t guarantee eviction (such as when the structure is so porous the cost to make repairs is prohibitively high, certain kinds of slate/tile roofs and a few others) these situations are EXTREMELY RARE.

Any service technician telling you that the bat colony cannot be eliminated should be able to provide detailed reasons why it cannot be done. If he/she cannot or doesn’t, I suggest contacting another company. Buyer beware. The wildlife control industry is NOT WELL REGULATED. Think carefully before you sign on the dotted line.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

 

 

Coyote Trapping 101

Video review: Coyote Trapping 101: The simple, effective basics with Bob Noonan. 2014 Canaan Maine: Trapper’s Post.

Bob Noonan. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Bob Noonan. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Bob Noonan, editor and publisher of the Trapper’s Post, brings his years of trapping and teaching experience to the subject of beginning coyote trapping. Noonan’s purpose is straightforward, he wishes to help new trappers cut through the apparent contradictions about coyote trapping and help them with the fundamentals. Bob is uniquely qualified to do this because he is not only an experienced coyote trapper on his own but he is also knowledgeable of the techniques and methods used by other coyote trappers around the US.

The video begins by discussing proper terminology namely Bob wants viewers to understand that the proper term is foothold and not leghold. He demonstrates how the coyote’s foot is best caught in footholds and details the minimum and maximum sizes of traps that should be used. This section of the video is quite informative about different types and sizes of foothold traps. Bob does not delve into the use of snares but focuses his attention on footholds specifically coil springs.

He briefly discusses adjusting traps and quickly moves into discussion of the dirt whole set. Bob demonstrates the setting of the trap using the foothold in carefully describes and demonstrates the importance of track bedding. The majority of the video shows Bob in the field with actual captures accompanied with his beautiful line drawings showing his set locations in relationship to the geography and habitat conditions.

Unlike many trapping videos, Noonan shows how to kill a coyote and actually demonstrates it. While it doesn’t fulfill euthanasia criteria, his method does meet the standard of humane killing. The video concludes with a brief comment by Jerry Levine a former state of Maine wildlife biologist who now consults with the US Sportsmens Alliance. Mr. Levine explains the impact coyotes have on deer populations in the importance that their management has been improving deer herds in the Northeast.

Bob has created a very important video for beginning trappers. He is clear, detailed, and true to his word regarding the fundamentals. He is not dogmatic or arrogant. For the most part the video and audio are clear and easy to understand. On occasion wind and an open door signal do distract from the content but this occurs only for short periods. This video is must viewing for anyone trying to catch their first coyote.

Stephen M. Vantassel, Owns Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

HGTV Magazine

Dear HGTV,

As Program Coordinator for Wildlife Damage Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it is my job to provide research-based information on wildlife damage management to the public. It was with disappointment that I read the advice given by Chip Wade in the

Stephen M. Vantassel rescuing a skunk trapped in a window well.

Stephen M. Vantassel rescuing a skunk trapped in a window well.

column entitled “Talk to a Tool Man” in the section “There’s a skunk in my backyard. Help!”, in the September 2014 issue of your magazine. While I commend him for at least suggesting that people control potential food sources and harborage locations for skunks, I was saddened by the poor information he gave regarding the management of skunks. In fact, some of this information actually encouraged your readers to violate the wildlife laws of the states in which they live.

First, lights will not stop skunks from visiting the yard or taking up residence, if the location is suitable to them. If skunks were as afraid of lights as Mr. Wade suggested, then why is it that so many urban residents in well-lit cities have trouble with them? Second, what evidence does Mr. Wade have that urine from dogs or foxes has a repellent effect on skunks? Mr. Wade must understand that just because something is sold in the store doesn’t mean that it is effective. Talk to any fur trapper, and he will tell you that they catch skunks at sets where fox urine is used on a regular basis.

Perhaps most seriously, is the suggestion that people take a live trap (which I assume he is referring to a cage or box trap as opposed to the other live traps known as footholds and cable restraints), capture a skunk, and then drive it away and dump it somewhere. If Mr. Wade did a little bit of research, he would realize that some states ban the translocation of all wildlife, while others ban the translocation of rabies vector species, such as skunks. States that ban the translocation of skunks include, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Nebraska.

In addition, Mr. Wade has assumed that translocation is somehow humane when in fact there are serious ethical issues regarding its humaneness as well as the concern for the transmission of diseases elsewhere. See http://icwdm.org/ControlMethods/Relocation.aspx for further details.

It is my hope that if Mr. Wade or other authors at your magazine wish to discuss wildlife damage management that they would please contact qualified experts to review the advice they distribute to the public.

Here are some publications that would’ve helped Mr. Wade write a better column.

Removing skunk odor http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1427

Dealing with skunks http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1621

Of course he is always free to contact me. Let me know how I could be of service in the future. Let’s work together to help the public employee responsible and legal methods to manage their conflicts of wildlife. Thank you for your time.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Family Handyman Magazine

Handyman Magazine

Mr. Larson,

It is certainly important that the public understand how to manage mice given how pervasive they are in the US as well as the significance of the damage that they can cause to human health and safety. Certainly there was much in your article (“Tips for Trapping Mice.” Sept 2014 pp.45-7.) that will benefit readers. Having commented on a previous article, where information was less than technically accurate. I was disappointed that the Family Handyman Magazine didn’t reach out to me for my help with this latest article. You may not know but the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management exists to provide research-based information to the public on handling wildlife complaints. Certainly house mice fall within our purview.

Clamshell-style traps positioned properly against the wall. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Clamshell-style traps positioned properly against the wall. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

I wanted to point out a few the areas where there were some mistakes that could negatively impact the success of your readers in regards to managing house mice. First, page 46. You mention the need to look for pathways which is certainly correct. However, the photo those presented shows a very poor way of setting and positioning traps. Mice tend to follow edges so the traps should of been set perpendicular to the wall with narrow and on the bait side touching the wall. The Helter-Skelter way they were positioned raises the chance that a mouse would misfire a trap and become educated to it. In addition, the claim about 8 inches jumping is a little too low. Research suggests that it’s actually higher than that closer to 10 inches see my blog http://wildlifecontrolconsultant.com/2011/05/15/house-mice-mus-musculus-jumping-abilities/ for the reference and discussion.

Second, peanut butter is an excellent bait for mice, but given peanut butter allergies among the public and that diversity is important when trying to eliminate a mouse infestation, the article should a provided some alternatives, including the decision not to bait at all in and use blind sets.

Page 47. You mentioned that use of anticoagulants is not painless. I would certainly agree. But in fact some researchers like Dr. Bobby Corrigan of the leading rodent experts in the world believes that rodenticides, such as anticoagulants are actually more humane than using snap traps. Certainly counter-intuitive, but his insight is important.

Also, your suggestion about glue boards was unfortunate. In fact glue boards are not a very effective way of controlling mice. So while you’re correct in terms of their relative cruelty, you could’ve gotten the same point across by noting that they’re not that effective.

Here are some resources that would’ve helped your readers:

  • Controlling House Mice http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=66
  • Bait Stations for Rodents http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=633
  • Controlling House Mice. The Z mag. http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1575, and
  • Rodent Proof Construction http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=23

Again, your article does provide important information useful for the public. I concern is for the technical accuracy of the paper so that it meets the standards you have for your other fine articles. Do let me know how the Internet center for wildlife damage management can assist Handyman Magazine and future issues on wildlife control.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
If you would like your publication, video, or product reviewed, please contact the author at the e-mail above.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.