5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a WCO
While I give tips on how to handle your own animal damage problems, there are times when you just want to hire a wildlife control operator (WCO). The problem is you don’t want to hire a bad one. Since Spring is upon us, I thought it might help my visitors evaluate contractors to find the best WCO. That is why I am giving you 5 questions to ask before hiring a WCO to handle your wildlife problem.
Before we get to the questions, you need to understand the difference between pest controller operators (PCO) and WCO, also known as Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO) also known as Problem Animal Controllers (PAC). A PCO is someone who handles bugs through the use of poison. A WCO is someone who handles vertebrate pests (animals with a backbone) with traps, exclusion etc. PCOs are licensed through their state’s Dept. of Food and Agriculture or Department of Agriculture. WCOs, if their state licenses them at all, will be regulated usually by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife or Department of Natural Resources.
Obviously, the first thing you should do is to look for a WCO (Wildlife Control Operator) to handle your wildlife problem and not a (PCO) Pest Control Operator. Once you know what you are looking for you should ask the following 5 questions before hiring a WCO.
1. Ask how many years have you been a WCO? This question is not to be confused with how many years in the PCO (Pest Control Operator) business. Bug killing is very different from controlling wildlife. Too many PCOs start doing WCO work with little to no trapping or wildlife experience.
2. Are you licensed? Is the contractor licensed to do animal damage control work in the state you live in? While some states don’t require licenses, many do. Ask if the person has completed a state certified trapping course. While most trapping courses teach fur trapping (not nuisance work), going through the training gives at least information about state laws.
3. Do you carry liability insurance? A surprising number do not.
4. Can you send me a copy of the contract? Does the WCO provide a clear contract along with an explanation of what services he/she will and will not provide?
5. Ask if the WCO is a member of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA). Membership doesn’t prove competence, but it does show a certain level of commitment to the industry. Don’t just take their word for it. Contact the Association at NWCOA.com to see if the person is a member. Full disclosure, I am the Western Director for the Association.
These aren’t the only questions that you should ask, but they are an important start. You want your wildlife problem resolved inexpensively but also properly. Don’t let the stress of wildlife problems force you to make a bad hiring decision.Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP, ACE, is the owner of Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. He helps people restore their balance with nature through publishing, training, consulting, and the internet. He has published numerous articles in trade and academic publications along with several books (http://kingsdivinity.academia.edu/StephenMVantassel). He is a sought after speaker and trainer. 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.