Car Damaging Animals

Car Damaging Animals

Vehicle. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Vehicle. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Surprisingly, I have received a number of people asking me how to stop animals from chewing on the cables in their vehicles. The damage and inconvenience caused by these automotive loving animals ranges from nests, to chewing cables and tubes. Of course, people are always looking for magic solutions such as something they can spray or plug in to stop the animals from getting near their vehicles. The problem with chemicals and sprays lies with the heat generated by the vehicle. One wonders if a fire could result from the chemical being heated up; not to mention the smell, health threat and or potential damage to the vehicle. Don’t bother with ultrasound as there is simply no conclusive scientific evidence that they work to repel animals in real world situations.

So how can you respond to car damaging animals?

First, identify the culprit. Chances are the problem will be caused by mice, rats or squirrels, probably in that order. For additional help purchase, The Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook 3rd ed.

Second, reduce the rodent population through reducing food sources and population control. Removing and/or modifying bird feeders, reducing harborage and woodpiles will go a long way to reduce the problem. Now removing food and harborage is not an instant solution. But it is an integral part of the long term solution. Population control will be greatly enhanced when you reduce other food sources as it will make the baiting system more attractive. (Always check wildlife regulations in your area before instituting any animal damage control program). For population control, consider trapping.

Finally, try to garage your car and or park it in an area away from the tree line. In other words, park your car in the middle of the parking lot so that wildlife have to travel farther to reach your car. Are any of these suggestions magic? No. But they will reduce the problem. As always, I am open to other suggestions. Just e-mail me at wildlifecontrolconsultant@gmail.com

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.

 

Wildlife Calendar

Wildlife Calendar

A Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

A Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

One of the challenges of wildlife control work is that it is tied to the seasons. Human-animal conflicts increase when animals seek mates, dens, and struggle to raise young. Since work in wildlife control varies by season, it is essential that wildlife control operators (WCOs) know the life-cycles of animals in their area.

Develop Your Own Wildlife Calendar

You can create your own wildlife calendar in two ways. First, contact your state’s division of wildlife or game agency and speak to biologists in charge of the species you handle. Ask them when the species hibernate (if it does), mate, raise young, and when young disperse to seek their own territories. The second way is to record your own observations.

To help make sense of all the data, I suggest using a table with 12 rows (plus one for the headings) and 3 columns.  Label the three columns of row 1 as Month, First 2 weeks and Second 2 weeks. Label the rest of the rows in column 1 according to the 12 months of the year. Setting this up in Microsoft Word will allow the table to grow as you put more information in it.

Benefits of the calendar

Use the calendar to plan your potential revenue stream as well as your advertising. The calendar also may help you prepare your truck for species that become active during the coming months.

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.

Relocation or Translocation?

Relocation or Translocation?

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

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

Every profession has its share of technical jargon. Sometimes that jargon prevents learning and understanding, but usually it helps clarify thoughts. Relocation and translocation are two terms that help rather than hinder understanding.

Relocation refers to the movement of an animal from one place to another but within it’s home range. For example, if you remove a skunk trapped in a window-well and let it go in the backyard, then you have “relocated” the skunk from the window-well to the backyard. You moved the skunk but he is still in the area he is familiar with.

Translocation refers to to the movement of an animal from one place to another but outside its homerange. For example, trapping a gray squirrel in your backyard and then driving 20 miles and dumping it off, is an example of translocation. You have moved the squirrel to an entirely new area that it is NOT familiar with.

As you can see, most people, including professionals use the term relocation to refer to translocation. I am hopeful that with more education we can help both professionals and the public can begin to use the correct terms.

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.

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) Control

Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) Control

A Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

A Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

You have seen them around, you may have even admired them. But in recent years they have become a big problem. Golf courses, beach front property owners and community parks have been fouled with goose droppings. A Canada goose (not Canadian goose), while a majestic bird, can deposit about a half a pound of fecal material on your grass each and every day. The problem of course is how to get rid of them.

Canada geese are protected under the North American Migratory Bird Treaty which was ratified in the early 20th century. Essentially it provides legal protection of birds that migrate across national borders of Mexico. The treaty allows the birds to be killed during either a regulated hunting season or when they are committing property or crop damage.

The trouble is while you might think that you are suffering property damage, the government requires that non-lethal options be tried first. Only after non-lethal options have been tried will the government give you a permit for lethal control.

Strategies for  Canada geese (Branta canadensis) control.

*Hazing: Hazing consists of harassing the birds so that they no longer will frequent your water front property. The best way this is accomplished it to setup a dog run parallel to the water. Let the dog chase and bark at the geese. The key is to find a dog that loves to chase geese and is not intimidated by them. Note, it’s illegal to haze geese when they are in the molt (i.e. flightless).

*Pyrotechnics/sonic devices: These are exploding devices that are shot from a 12-gauge shot gun. They cause a loud bang when they are fired and when they explode some thirty yards away. They can be very effective when used as soon as the flock begins to use the pond or property. But if they become established its effectiveness is lessened or may be only temporary. The problem with these devices is the legal restrictions on their use on account that they are considered firearms. Before you buy them be sure to check with your police department to see if they will permit its use.

*Fencing: Placing a three foot high fence along the edge of the water can be a very effective method of preventing geese from defecating on your lawn.  Geese like being able to have free access from the water to the lawn and vice versa. The fence doesn’t have to be pretty, expensive or even permanent. You can even use chicken wire.

*Landscaping: Planting shrubs on your property near the water line can be a great method of discouraging geese. Geese prefer open grass so that they can easily see their predators. Placing shrubs around the edge of the water helps reduce their line of vision making them more vulnerable to natural predators and more nervous.

If you would like further assistance with applying these methods contact me.

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.

Wildlife Research Questions

Wildlife Research Questions

Stephen M. Vantassel at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Stephen M. Vantassel at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The field of wildlife damage management has come a long way in the past 40 years. But despite those advances (just visit http://icwdm.org/Publications/ResearchWDM.aspx for proof), much more needs to be learned. Regrettably, it seems that most of the research dollars still funds research on wildlife in natural environments. I certainly think that such research is important, but with the growth of urbanization, we need more information about wildlife behavior in human-impacted environments.

To help biology and natural resources students focus on questions important to those in the field of wildlife damage management, I am providing a list of research topics that may wish to select for their own studies.

How about answering the question of how humane is the use of Acetone, Alcohol or other non pharmaceutical drugs in euthanasia?  Does the animal die as quickly with this chemical as the registered chemicals and how are they different in their effects?

  • Why are woodchuck populations so different in urban/surburan areas than in the wild?  Such as the difference between one woodchuck per hole in the wild vs up to six or eight adults at times in urban/surburban areas? One ADC person states, “In Indiana, from my observations over the last 20 years, the reason is because coyotes have severely reduced the rural populations. City groundhogs must live in the available urban and sububan habitat and this causes overcrowding even to the point that their social structures may have changed somewhat. This is not fact just my speculation because I see the same thing here.”
  • What are survival rates for relocated fox squirrels in summer vs. winter?
  • What percentage of striped skunks may have rabies in an urban vs. suburban area?
  • What makes raccoons rip asphalt shingles off one roof and not another?  And sometimes return to the same roof the next year? Is it odor? Eg. Pheromones or is it through air flow/leakage.
  • Caged trapped animals that have been released, Can they be cage trapped again. Which species are cage trappable again, Which are not?
  • Effects of Population control (hunting and Trapping) on occurrences of damage complaints.  Do cities that have banned traps have a higher damage rate, i.e. effects in MA after trap ban.
  • Survey of economics of loses to wildlife damage in urban and agricultural settings. The impact of trapping regulations on the extent of damage.
  • Public opinion of disposition of animal involved in damage complaints, measure the acceptance of lethal control measures.  How much damage will the public accept before requiring or wanting the animal problem ended regardless of method.  The public has no problem allowing a burglar to be shot and killed if they enter their homes and threaten their family, how do their feel about raccoons in their attics?  I know the answer from years of listening to customers and I think it would be interesting to see the results of an unbiased survey.

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.

Foot-long worms infecting cats in the United States

Foot-long worms are infecting cats in the United States

Free-range house cats a source of zoonotic disease, such as parasitic worms. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Free-range house cats a source of zoonotic disease, such as parasitic worms. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Readers know that free-range house cats not only kill millions of native wildlife each year in the U.S. but also pose serious disease issues to the environment and people. Typically, these disease threats focused on rabies and toxoplasmosis. Now it appears that worms are yet another issue. To learn more visit the research that was done at Cornell University Cornell University Original Study.

I can only imagine how the free-range cat lobby will respond to this latest evidence.

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.

Nebraska Cougar Hunting (LB671)

Nebraska and Cougar Hunting (LB671)

The arrival of cougars (AKA mountain lions; scientific name Puma concolor) in Nebraska is one of the latest achievements of scientific wildlife management here in the U.S. While South Dakota has had a successful mountain lion hunt for several years now, cougar numbers have increased in Nebraska. With careful scientific research, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) determined that mountain lions could sustain some very limited hunting.

Mountain lion (Puma concolor). Photo by Eeekster, Wikimedia Commons.

Mountain lion (Puma concolor). Photo by Eeekster, Wikimedia Commons.

Hunting of mountain lions would offer several benefits to Nebraska. First, it would reduce the concerns of cattle ranchers about the likelihood of mountain lions predating on their livestock. Fewer mountain lions means less risk for predation (yes it is that simple). Second, offering a hunt brings in valuable dollars, through hunting license fees, to the (NGPC) to continue its important role in managing Nebraska’s natural resources, without raising taxes or harming the NGPC’s independence.

Regrettably, as of February 23, 2014, the Nebraska legislature has voted to eliminate this hunt in the first of three rounds of voting. The legislation is proffered by people who think they support the environment. But if they cared to study a little more they would know that anti-hunting is anti-environmentalist. Hunting elevates an animal from a pest to a resource. People don’t hunt rats because rats don’t have value in our society. Presently, Nebraskan have been quite successful at killing cougars deemed dangerous to people, which is as it should be. But as the population of cougars increases, continuing to rely on killing of cougars for nuisance reasons continues negative stereotypes about cougars. Conversely, when people hunt them, cougars have value because landowners know the cougar may be able to be left alone until hunting season.

Hopefully Nebraskans will ask their state Senators to vote down the ban on regulated mountain hunting.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional (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.

NWCOA Bat Standards Instructor

NWCOA Bat Standards Instructor

NWCOA Bat Certification

NWCOA Bat Certification

Bat infestations in structures are one of the most expensive wildlife issues a homeowner can confront. The National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) has developed standards that certified bat specialists must follow when addressing bat complaints. The standards cover everything from the type of warranty that may be given, inspection report, equipment choice, disease issues, and more.

With concerns over White-nose Syndrome and the danger it poses to bat populations, these bat standards also encompass equipment cleaning requirements so that wildlife control operators (WCO) don’t contaminate multiple colonies.

I had the privilege be tapped to be an instructor for the Bat Standards. Let me take this opportunity to suggest that homeowners hire NWCOA Bat Standards Certified WCOs to handle their bat complaints.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator 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.

5 Steps to Identify What Killed Your Livestock

5 Steps to Identify What Killed Your Livestock

Blue Jay killed by a predator.

Blue Jay killed by a predator.

I receive requests from animal owners looking for help in identifying what killed their animal. Whether the animal is a pet or a production animal the steps for identification are the same.

Step 1. What animals are in your area? Knowledge of the animals in your area is critical because there is no reason to suspect an animal that doesn’t live in your location. Think of it as your list of suspects. Don’t forget to include domestic species, like cats and dogs, too.

Step 2. Photograph the scene. Take clear, high resolution images of the scene. Take photos from different angles and distances. Ideally all photos should include a standard sized object such as a yardstick or ruler to show scale.

Step 3. Evaluate the scene. Was the animal killed during the day, night, inside a shed? Tick off as much detail as you can about the scene or setting surrounding the animal’s death.

Step 4. Investigate the carcass. This step requires wearing gloves to protect yourself from animal’s fluids. Carefully inspect the carcass, looking for puncture wounds and broken bones and other signs of injury. In most cases, an external survey will not provide many clues. Hair or feathers too often conceals signs needed to accurately identify the predator. Thus you will need to take a sharp knife to skin the animal. Skinning is necessary so you can have clear access to punctures, abrasions, contusions, and other signs. This step is critical. Failure to do it will result in inaccurate identification of the predators. Take careful pictures of punctures, particularly distances between canine or talons marks.

Step 5. Put it all together. List all the facts you have and use them to rule out potential suspects. Focus on ruling suspects out rather than looking to identify the guilty predator. This tactic helps prevent you from falling into tunnel vision. Check your data against a predator damage identification guide such as the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator 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.

 

New Hampshire House Bill 1579

New Hampshire House Bill 1579

Padded-jaw foothold. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

Padded-jaw foothold. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

New Hampshire, it appears, is the next state in a growing list (i.e. Washington, California, Colorado, Massachusetts) that is dealing with yet another attempt to ban equipment used in wildlife management and wildlife damage management. The equipment to be banned includes, footholds, padded-jaw footholds (pictured to the right), cable-restraints, snares, and encapsulated-foot traps. In short, everything is banned except cage traps, box traps, and mouse and rat traps.

This bill like many others exemplifies utter ignorance of both the tools and the realities facing those tasked with wildlife control activities.

Let me list a few reasons why this bill is, to put it bluntly, stupid.

  • The bill will prohibit the Collarum Trap that is one of the most selective and humane devices on the market today. In fact, it is so useful dog catchers use it to catch stray dogs.
  • Effectively eliminates the harvesting of fur, which is one of the most environmentally friendly industries in the U.S. IN fact, fur harvesting protects property and enables landowners to obtain financial benefits from leaving land undeveloped.
  • Will cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the increased costs incurred to control beavers and other problem wildlife. Fur trappers often trap for free. In fact, they pay the state (with license fees) to work for free. I strongly suggest that will change if this law passes. In short, this bill is a hidden tax to landowners.
  • This law requires trappers to use tools that are, in some circumstances, less humane than the devices banned by the bill.
  • This law prohibits traps that haven’t even been invented yet thereby eliminating the possibility that traps even more humane than cage traps could be legally used.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator 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.