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BEASTS BEGONE! Removing Animals

Getting Started

When you've got bats in the belfry, mice in the basement, or snakes in the bathroom, you need to know your options for liberating the building from uninvited animal guests. Homes, schools, and other municipal buildings are vulnerable to invasion by raccoons, woodchucks, mice, bats, birds, and snakes. This section provides you, as a building manager or caretaker, with some options for removing unwanted animals.

Before choosing a technique for removing an animal from a building, you should consider the following.

Know the law.

Generally, the state has jurisdictional responsibility for wild animals. The main regulatory agency in New York State is the Department of Environmental Conservation (in other states, check with appropriate wildlife agencies). In the case of migratory birds or federally endangered species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also has jurisdiction. There may also be local ordinances to consider.

Assess health and safety factors.

Evaluate risks to the operator associated with a particular animal as well as with removal techniques. Be familiar with the safety measures necessary to reduce the risk of contracting zoonotic diseases and use proper precautions on ladders and with other equipment. Pest Control Technician Safety Manual by Pinto and Associates is a good resource. Also, consider risks to the users of the building. Expedient removal of animals that pose a serious threat to the public is important; however, be sure to use removal techniques that pose the least risk to the operator and the public.

Consider the humaneness.

Generally, humaneness refers to minimizing the pain felt by an animal. A quick lethal technique is often considered more humane than a non-lethal technique that has a high probability of causing prolonged suffering.

Evaluate effectiveness.

While other factors are important, if the animal is not removed, the problem is not solved.

Be sure it's practical.

Methods that are humane, effective, and safe will not be implemented if they are too expensive or otherwise cumbersome for the owner of the building.

Be aware of the social context.

Human responses to animals are diverse and often intense. It is important to consider the visibility of the animal removal and choose techniques that will help maintain positive relationships with the building's occupants and the broader community.

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