Keystone Skills for Wildlife Control
Finding good employees is an important but difficult task for business owners. Wildlife control operators (WCO) and Pest Control Operators (PCO) are no different. In order to grow in profitability, you have to have employees. But how do you find the right candidate(s) to hire?
Of course, you have to create a job description. A job description is absolutely necessary to help you determine what you need but also to help potential employees decide whether they have the skills necessary to fulfill the job. But if your job description is made properly it will be ineffective in helping you screen job applicants. Your job description must identify the absolute critical skills necessary for the job. Critical skills are keystone skills because they are essential to effective accomplishment of the task. After all some skills can be taught, but other skills are too difficult or require too much time to teach. I contend that some skills are so fundamental to a person’s character that you can’t teach it.
So What are the Critical or Keystone Skills?
I believe that the good WCOs must have the following skills:
1. Feel comfortable on ladders. No one is born with this trait but your candidate must not be afraid of heights. Workers afraid of heights will not be profitable for you unless you run a wildlife control business that handles turf animals only.
2. Able to be in confined spaces. Claustrophobia has no place in wildlife control. If your candidate can’t crawl into a tight attic or crawl space, then don’t hire him.
3. Ability to lift. Ladders are heavy. Candidates must have the strength to haul around a ladder that is long enough to gain access to second floor roofs (unless you live in an area where most houses are single floor). No worker should be required to lift a 40 foot ladder no matter how strong he is. It is just too dangerous and the lack of leverage can wrench even a strong back.
4. Emotionally able to kill animals. Wildlife control is not pretty. No matter what kind of service you provide, sooner or later your employees will kill animal. You have to know they can do this before you hire them.
5. Carpenter skills. Your technicians don’t have to be master carpenters (though it wouldn’t hurt), they do need to be able to use a ruler and basic tools (tin snips, portable drill, saw and other cutting tools, and hammer).
6. Ability to communicate effectively. Your candidate doesn’t need to have a silver tongue. But he must have clear communication skills. Reading and writing are a given.
Those are the essential skills. Everything else can be taught. So in your next help wanted ad, make sure you highlight these skills, or you may be interviewing candidates that will disappoint.
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 book is The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.
All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included.
Two Terms Needing New Definitions
My latest journal article has recently been published. It covers two terms (live trap and the lethal/non-lethal control dichotomy) that wildlife control operators and wildlife damage management specialist need to redefine in order to be scientifically accurate and to reduce the advantage to the animal rights protest industry.
You can read the article at http://www.berrymaninstitute.org/journal/fall2012/p._335-338_Commentary.pdf
Vantassel, S. M. 2012. Wildlife management professionals need to redefine the terms: lethal control, nonlethal control, and live trap. Human-Wildlife Interactions 6:2(Fall):335-338.
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 book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. 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.
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.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
Hantavirus infection is a serious disease contracted from inhaling or coming into physical contact with droppings and rodents contaminated with the virus. With a 30% death rate for those infected, it is scary enough to warrant caution.
Don’t be Paranoid Get Educated
The challenge in getting information on zoonotic diseases is to find information that is both accurate and readable. Thankfully, the good people at the Centers for Disease Control have created a booklet on the subject.
Download your pdf at http://www.cdc.gov/hantavirus/pdf/HPS_Brochure.pdf . You will be glad you did.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control professional and is available for consultation, writing, research, and public speaking about wildlife damage management issues and the dangers of the animal rights protest industry.
For 48 years, the Vertebrate Pest Conference has been providing research-based information to researchers and technicians looking to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. It is the longest continuously running conference dedicated to the resolution of human-wildlife conference and as such it can be argued that its publications are must reading for wildlife damage management professionals interested in improving their professional skills.
I am pleased to announce that the Proceedings of the 24th Vertebrate Pest Conference 2010 are now available for purchase. You can own the proceedings (several hundred pages) in digital or print forms. Place your orders at the School of Natural Resources Store (http://NebraskaMaps.unl.edu).
The link for the digital version is 24th Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference The link for the print version is available yet but the store has received the shipment. You can order by phone at 402-472-3471. Office hours are 8-5 central time. Cost of the print version is $35.00 plus S&H.
Stephen M. Vantassel specializes in wildlife damage management. He is presently working on revising his Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook which he hopes to have completed by the end of 2011. He is available for consultation and conferences.
Definitions of Key Terms and Acronyms for the Wildlife Control Industry
Wildlife damage management is a relatively young industry having come into its own in the early 1980s. So it is understandable that the public isn’t as familiar with wildlife damage control terms and acronyms the way they may be regarding terms of the pest control industry. It is a glossary that will continue to grow. If you have questions on the terms listed below or want some added, please contact me through this site.
Academy Certified Professional. A certification gained from attending a 5 day training seminar in Indiana. The training is no longer available since 2008.
A philosophical view which holds that animals (those with the sentient ability to feel pain) should be granted rights analogous to those given to humans. These rights would include the right to freedom from harm caused by humans against animals. This view rejects the notion that humans have a moral right to eat, wear, or use animals for our purposes as such behavior treats animals as means rather than as ends. See Animal Welfare.
The philosophical view (in opposition to Animal Rights) which holds that humans may use, eat, and wear animals provided the animal is treated with respect and reasonable effort is made to minimize the pain and suffering experienced by the animal when being harvested, raised, or hunted by humans. Animal welfarists believe animals do not deserve similar rights to those of humans but do deserve to be treated with dignity as a feeling creature. This respect, however, does not diminish humanity’s right to eat, kill, ride, and use animals for our needs and recreation. Pain and suffering incurred by the animal should not be wanton or for mere amusement of the human but should be minimized (as much as reasonably possible) by the person harvesting the animal.
Blind set is a method of trapping that relies on location of the trap to catch the animal. It doesn’t use bait or lure to attract the animal in the trap. It simply places the trap in a place where the animal is expected to travel. See Positive Trapping.
A device that captures an animal by imprisoning it. But unlike a cage trap, a box trap has solid walls.
A device that captures an animal by imprisoning it. But unlike a box trap, a cage trap has wire-mesh walls.
Cruelty is the malicious and excessive infliction of pain and suffering upon an animal beyond what is necessary. Unfortunately, animal protectionists have been attempting to change the definition to include killing of an animal whether it suffered or not. One may dispute whether the killing of an animal is justified, but to suggest that the mere killing of an animal even if done with minimal to no pain is an expression of cruelty blurs the definition beyond reason. Throwing a raccoon in the fire and shooting it in the head are ways to kill an animal. One is cruel the other isn’t.
Certified Wildlife Control Professional. A certification granted by the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. CWCPs must have 3 years of full time experience and have 100 hours of training.
A trap similar in form to a snare but is designed to capture the animal alive. See Snare.
A highly controversial and debated term whose definition is determined by the ideology of the person or group defining the term. In its loosest definition, humane refers to employing activities that bring the least amount of harm and suffering to the animal(s) being handled. to humanely kill an animal the creature must be unconscious while death occurs. Under a stricter definition, humane means bringing no harm at all to the animal and death is used only as an absolute last resort and then under strict guidelines to ensure a painless death as much as is humanly possible.
It is a common error to apply this term to only cage and box traps. Live trap is any trap that captures the animal alive. Traps that fit into this category include, cage traps, box traps, cable-restraints, footholds, traps that restrain limbs, and pit traps.
Pronounced (New koh). Acronym for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. A synonym for WCO. See WCO and WMP.
Pronounced (New Koh Ah). An acronym for the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. NWCOA is the trade association for professionals in the wildlife damage management industry.
Acronym for Problem Animal Controller. Title used in Massachusetts.
An acronym for Pest Control Operator. PCOs are primarily spray for insects (invertebrate animals) but they also handle pigeons, starlings, house sparrows, mice, and rats. Typically use pesticides and toxicants to control the species they are hired to remove. Lately, more PCOs are entering the wildlife control field.
A technique where the trap is set over the entrance of the animal’s den so that the animal is forced to enter the trap. See Blind Set.
A human moving an animal from one spot to another within the animal’s home range. E.g. Moving a squirrel from your basement and relocating it to your backyard. Often confused with translocation. See Translocation.
A looped cable (typically aircraft cable) designed to capture the animal around the neck and constrict to kill it. Commonly confused with cable-restraints. See cable-restraint
When a human moves an animal from its home-range to an area it is not familiar with which is outside the animal’s home range. Term often confused with relocation. See relocation.
An acronym for Wildlife Control Operator. WCOs are individuals who run or work for private wildlife control companies servicing clients in need of removal of problem wildlife. Some professionals prefer to be called WCOs because they believe wildlife should be considered a resource not a nuisance. A synonym for NWCO.
An acronym for Wildlife Management Professional. May refer to a private wildlife control operator running a business but can also refer to state or local agency personnel.
Wildlife Damage Management Presentations by Stephen M. Vantassel
Stephen M. Vantassel is available for conferences, workshops, seminars, and other training events related to wildlife damage management and nuisance wildlife work.
Individual training is also available.
National Wildlife Control Training Program. March 27, 2013. 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. Clemson, SC.
Effectiveness of Raccoon Eviction Fluids. March 27, 2013. 15th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. Clemson, SC.
Trapping 101. Feb. 15, 2013. Wildlife Expo: National Wildlife Control Operators Association. Tunica, MS.
Ground Rodents. Feb. 15, 2013. Wildlife Expo: National Wildlife Control Operators Association. Tunica, MS.
Feces Removal. Sept. 15, 2012. Oregon Pest Control Assoc. Lincoln City.
National Wildlife Control Training Program. Feb. 2012. National Wildlife Control Operators Assoc. Atlanta.
Inspecting Structures for Wildlife. December 2010. Joint Annual Meeting of the Kansas and Missouri Pest Control Associations. Kansas City, KS. December, 2010.
“Raccoon Research: Evaluating a Humane, Non-Lethal Control Technique.” November 19, 2009. NPMA’s 2009 Nuisance Bird and Wildlife Conference and Marketplace. Indianapolis, IN. Invited Speaker.
Ten Tips for Wildlife Programs. National Pest Management Association. Invited Speaker. October 19, 2007. Orlando, FL. Invited Speaker.
Wildlife Control Technology Seminars
State Wildlife Training
Bird Damage Control–Kansas State University. October, 2011.
Bird Diseases–Kansas State University. October, 2011.
Skunks and Woodchucks. Connecticut NWCO Association Conference. East Hartford, CT. March 26, 2011.
Inspection of Structures for Wildlife Damage—Kansas/Missouri Pest Control Association Seminar. Kansas City, KS. December 3, 2010.
Hosted Urban Coyote Damage Management Workshop. 14th Wildlife Damage Management Conference. Nebraska City, NE. April 20-1, 2011.
Hosted the Shooting in Sensitive Environments Workshop. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln, NE. August 3-5, 2010.
Hosted the Canada Goose Damage Management Workshop. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Lincoln, NE. May-June, 2010.
Hosted the Deer Damage Management Workshop. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. August, 2009.
Contact Stephen M. Vantassel for details on these and other training opportunities. E-mail stephenvantassel(at)hotmail.com
How NOT to Catch a Mouse
I was very disappointed when I saw the October 2010 issue of Men’s Health Magazine. In their How to Do Everything Better column was an article entitled “Catch A Mouse—Alive!” p. 84. The article describes in cartoon column fashion how to use pencils, peanut butter, packing tape, section of cardboard, and a bowl to capture a mouse.
Whether the technique works or not, I don’t know. My hunch is that its efficacy is at best subject to numerous misfires. The problem with the article lies in its suggestion to translocate the mouse 100 feet away from the house. While such advice is to be expected from the advisor (a PETA member), no mention was made regarding the likely trauma would be experienced by the mouse that has just been transported away from its winter cache. The suggestion to release the mouse is another example of “feel good” advice trumping true compassion. You may think that a chance of survival beats a certain death sentence but evidence from the translocation of other species strongly suggests that translocation of mice is actually quite cruel (consult http://icwdm.org for details).
Whether you are convinced or not about the humanness of mouse-translocation, the environmental argument is unquestionable. House mice (Mus musculus) is an invasive species in the U.S.. House mice were not original inhabitants of the country and their introduction (likely accidental) is detrimental to human-health and safety as well as native species. House mice should never be moved; they should be killed. They don’t belong in the U.S. House mice are responsible for significant damage to crops and structures. On islands, their impact is more noticeable (at least it has been studied more) is also significant.
Hopefully in the future, the editors of Men’s Health will provide scientifically and environmentally sound advice to their readers rather than the stooping to the desires of sentimentality; nature deserves better treatment. Just as you don’t give cotton candy to a kid just because it will make him feel good, we shouldn’t translocate house mice. After all someone has to be the adult.
Resources to Consult
Environmental and Economic Costs of Nonindigenous Species in the United States
Author(s): David Pimentel, Lori Lach, Rodolfo Zuniga, Doug MorrisonSource: BioScience, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 53-65Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological SciencesStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1313688Accessed: 18/10/2010 22:24. Article describes house mice as invasive.
Mice, Rats, and People: The Bio-Economics of Agricultural Rodent Pests Author(s): Nils Chr Stenseth, Herwig Leirs, Anders Skonhoft, Stephen A. Davis, Roger P. Pech, Harry P. Andreassen, Grant R. Singleton, Mauricio Lima, Robert S. Machang’u, Rhodes H. Makundi, Zhibin Zhang, Peter R. Brown, Dazhao Shi, Xinrong Wan Source: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 1, No. 7 (Sep., 2003), pp. 367-375
Published by: Ecological Society of America. Paper discusses impacts and ways to improve control of a variety of species for S.E. Asia.
House Mouse by Robert Timm in Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage. Editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, Gary E. Larson. 1994. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2 vols.
Article provides a quick review of damage to both crops and human structures.
Stephen M. Vantassel is an expert in wildlife damage management and a frequent critic of the animal rights protest industry for it anti-environmental stance. You can read his latest book
Dominion over Wildlife (see image at left) which discusses the arguments used by Christian animal rights activists.
Stephen M. Vantassel is an expert in wildlife damage management and nationally known writer on wildlife damage control and animal rights issues. His latest book is Dominion over Wildlife? An Environmental-Theology of Human-Wildlife Relations (Wipf and Stock 2009).
Evidence Collection for Wildlife Control Cases
I have received many requests from individuals looking for help identifying scat, tracks, damage etc. caused by wildlife. While most are not related to pending lawsuits, accurate collection of information and data is critical to proper identification.
What follows is a list of tips to help you make your case in a manner that will allow it to be stand up to scrutiny.
This document will continue to be edited as new information comes to light. Contact the author for additional details.
Principles of Evidence Collection
Provide Specific Information
Nothing hinders my assistance more than vague terms. Don’t say, “The hole is small” because, while “small: may mean something specific to you, it means little to someone else. After all, small compared to what?
- Measure as carefully as you can. Try to measure down to the 1/16 of an inch or millimeter.
- Provide specific dates and times.
- Provide city and state. Detail the habitat in your area. Is it treed, grassy, asphalt, near water, etc.
Take Quality Photos
Photos must provide investigators with three key pieces of information.
- context. Photos should show the setting in which the problem or situation has occurred.
- details of the incident. Photos must contain sufficient clarity to show what the problem actually is. This means photos must be crisp, well lighted, and containing enough mega-pixels to allow enlargement.
- permanent record. Photos should contain date and time when taken. Back ups should be made and kept in an off-site location.
Elements of Quality Photos
Quality photos must be in focus with good lighting and contrast.
Close up photos must have standard sized objects in the image (ideally rulers 90 degree rulers) to show scale and to help investigators handle parallax.
Photos must be large enough to allow viewers to zoom in for a closer look. Ideally, images 3 mega-pixels or higher are sufficient. Don’t get hung up on mega-pixels. The quality of the photo comes first. A poor photo that is 10 megapixels won’t beat a tack sharp photo at 3 mega-pixels.
Learn how to use your camera before you need it. Remember, digital cameras are set on the lowest setting from the factory. To obtain the largest sized picture, you will likely have to manually change the settings. Don’t assume the camera takes the largest photos automatically.
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Professional. He is a staff writer for Wildlife Control Technology magazine and helps the public and businesses resolve wildlife damage complaints.
Myths about Trapping as a Wildlife Control Technique
I get a lot of requests from people wanting me to tell them how to stop wildlife damage without having to trap it. Too often, these people of suggest that they don’t want to trap because they think trapping does not work. I ask them why they think trapping doesn’t work. They reply, “The animals come back.” I suggest that perhaps they should euthanize the animal, which then receives the correction, “Other animals return.”
Trapping Held to Unfair Standard
Now we are getting to the hub of the matter. People hold trapping to an unfair standard that they don’t hold other techniques to. For example, why is it that property owners will spray for bugs, repeatedly throughout the year, every year without thinking twice about it. Yet, if they have to trap for one week a year, the technique is declared to be a failure because it didn’t stop the wildlife damage for perpetuity.
Myths Display a Misunderstanding of Nature
This attitude displays a fundamental misunderstanding of nature. First off, everything in nature is temporary. How temporary depends on your time horizon. Have a couple of billion years to spare and the world will will look quite differently than it does today. While that is extreme, a shorter time horizon still proves the point. Animal populations are cyclical. Some years they may be high and others low. So control in year one may need to be followed by control for the next several years if the animal species you are controlling is on the incline of the population curve. By the same token, trapping one year may solve the problem for years if the species population curve is on the decline.
Only a Small Percentage of Wildlife Cause Problems
Second, only a small fraction of animals cause the damage. If you can remove the “guilty” animals then you can not only stop the damage but also prevent the offending animals from educating their neighbors to follow suit. Think of it as targeted police work. Get rid of one shoplifter and you likely stop several others from following the same path.
Cutting Grass Argument
If those arguments don’t convince you about the legitimacy of trapping as a tool in wildlife control, then consider the question: ”Why do you mow your grass?” I ask this question of urbanites (people who have lost their connection to the earth) and frequently get blank stares. I remind them that mowing grass clearly doesn’t work because the grass grows back. The fact is, God built the world to be abundant and restorative. The fact that wildlife populations reproduce is not a bad thing, it’s a good thing for it allows us to harvest the abundance. If we do so responsibly, the harvest is essentially everlasting, like living off the interest of the principle in your savings account.
- D.C. Goes Wild: Urban Wildlife Protections Pass Unanimously (animals.change.org)
- A Soft, Furry, Stone-cold Killer Researchers say domestic, feral cats kill as many as 1 billion birds a year Sunday, June 12, 2011 03:13 AM By Spencer Hunt (Columbus, OH) http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/science/stories/2011/06/12/a-soft-furry-stone-cold-killer.html?sid=101
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 book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.
All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included.