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."
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three different sized cage traps with cardboard covers to improve humaneness.