Why do I need a control program?
Do you love watching deer, but not in your nursery eating your trees? Is it difficult to walk through the fairway of your golf course without soiling your shoes with waterfowl residue? Have the rabbits established a highway to your garden? Are the raccoons keeping you awake at night as they tear down your sweet corn? Or has the scarecrow become a roosting place for the birds raiding your raspberry patch? If so, you have a wildlife control problem that needs to be corrected!
What are the steps to a good wildlife control program?
- Identify the problem
- Research the causes of the problem
- Research the large variety of control measures and products available
- Choose the appropriate products/practices for the most effective control
- Evaluate the results for future reference
What constitutes wildlife?
Wildlife are animals that are not domesticated and generally live in natural, uncultivated habitats. However, many species are adaptable and have moved into and flourished in cultivated areas.
They are also opportunistic, and will adjust their diets and travel patterns to take advantage of new crops and vegetation planted in the area.
Identify the problem animal
One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they think they have a deer or rabbit or bird problem. It is imperative that you identify the exact type(s) of wildlife in order to save control costs and improve effectiveness. This is often very difficult because of the nocturnal nature of many wildlife species and the lack of understanding most people have about the feeding, travel and bedding behaviors of wildlife in general. Consult the state department of natural resources in your area or a wildlife biologist for detailed information on the common types of wildlife in your area.
Why do I have a wildlife problem?
As mentioned, many wildlife species will readily adapt to and often prefer the vegetation and fruits of cultivated crops, and will quickly alter their travel routes and eating patterns to take advantage of these.
Urban sprawl, highway construction, human interaction, erected barriers and fences, predators and domesticated animal pressures will also cause changes in wildlife eating patterns.
Seasonal crops and climatic conditions can also have an effect on wildlife movement and pressure.
Location of the cultivated crop with respect to natural habitat, protective cover, and other crops and vegetation in the area can cause certain fields or areas to be hit harder than others.
Effective scare and control practices and products that are being used by surrounding landowners can drive wildlife away or toward your property.
Choose appropriate control measures
The keys to any good wildlife control program are effectiveness and cost-efficiency. With the wide variety of control practices and products on the market today, you need to spend some time researching the possible solution and determine which one(s) provide the most consistent and effective control of wildlife movement and damage, at a cost that is justified based on the value of the crop or land use. Not every product or practice works perfectly all the time or in every situation, so a combination may need to be implemented.
Once you determine the specific type of wildlife problem, the general reasons why it is a problem and have a basic understanding of the possible solutions, it is time to put together a control program that works for you. Talk with other growers and neighbors and find out what does or doesn't work for them. Consult your state department of natural resources, university Extension agent, or GEMPLER'S Technical Product Support Dept.
for additional suggestions on available products and practices for an effective and economical wildlife control program.
Evaluate the results
The last key to an effective wildlife control program is a good follow-up evaluation after each control implementation. This will help you determine what worked well and what did not and help you fine-tune next year's program for more effectiveness and profitability.
Do's and Dont's of Wildlife Control
Identify the exact wildlife problem.
|Guess what the problem
Chose the right product or combination of products for each problem.
|Waste time and money
on a poor program.
Develop a program before wildlife are well established in their feeding and travel patterns.
|Underestimate the damage that wildlife can do.
Minimizing wildlife damage
Wildlife can cause costly damage to high value ornamentals and crop plants. Maximizing your productivity means limiting both wildlife damage and control costs. We recommend the following steps for optimum results:
Find out which animal is the problem. Start a regular sampling program to measure damage and estimate dollar losses. Sampling before and after controls are in place is the only way to access effectiveness and be sure control costs are recovered by improved profits. Learning when and where damage occurs helps you time and position controls precisely for maximum return.
2. Habitat modification
Wild animals become pests in their search for food, water and shelter. Secure trash cans and compost piles, remove food plants, install or close openings in walls, fences, etc. Plant ornamentals that deer and other wildlife do not eat. Control grubs in lawns and landscapes to avoid attracting raccoons and skunks.
Cost effective products include: Garlic Barrier and Hot Pepper Wax that make plant parts distasteful; noise devices that make protected areas unattractive; predator urine and garlic that make pests uneasy therefore making the area undesirable; barriers such as netting prevent wildlife from entering an area.
If wildlife pressure is extreme due to a lack of alternative food or unusually high populations, no deterrent may work or an extra high dose may be required. If you are using scent, visual or taste products, use more devices/products with less space in between until you see a reduction in damage. The most effective sound, visual and taste/smell repellent programs are put in place before feeding habits are established, and include a variety of techniques, reinforced with occasional actual harassment like running people or dogs through the area.
Where habitat modification is not practical or economical, consider trapping for removal or elimination. Use the correct size trap for the target animal.
Note: Before trapping, check with your local wildlife control office for pertinent laws and permits. Always check traps daily. It is inhumane and often illegal not to. When you can't check daily, leave traps in place wired shut, so animals will continue to get used to them. Pack soil on the floor of wire traps (do not interfere with the door), so animals do not feel wire underfoot. Wear protective gloves and long sleeves when handling animals, live or dead, to avoid potentially dangerous parasites and diseases such as rabies.
Who to call for help
Squirrels in the attic? Wildlife damage to crops? Need to know more about regulations affecting your ability to trap, remove, or otherwise manage problem wildlife? How about expert advice on the right methods and equipment?
Wildlife problems include nuisance concerns, crop or property damage, and human health and safety risks. It's not always easy to determine who to call for help and advice. Various local, county, state and federal offices address animal damage issues, and the right one to call varies from one location to another. The following guide should help reduce confusion and get you the answers you need.
General animal damage management questions
Check your phone book under County Government listings for Animal Damage Control. If you can't locate a listing, try the Cooperative Extension Service, also in the County Government listings. If your county does not have an Extension wildlife specialist on staff, the agents there should be able to provide a phone number for a regional or state specialist. Cooperative Extension listings are sometimes also included in the State Government section of your phone book, under your state university (e.g., University of Wisconsin, Cooperative Extension Service).
Most states have a wildlife management division responsible for education and enforcement of laws. You can find these agencies in the State Government section of your phone book under Wildlife or Fish and Wildlife. If there is no Wildlife listing, try National Resource or Agriculture departments, also in the State Government listings.
The United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Inspection Service, Wildlife Service (USDA-APHIS-WS) is charged with providing technical assistance and training to wildlife management professionals and the public; research, development and transfer of technology; assistance in obtaining wildlife damage permits; and registering and maintaining chemical products for wildlife management. USDA-APHIS-WS may have specialized equipment available for public use.
This agency has developed a number of fact sheets and bulletins on wildlife damage management. You can contact the national office at USDA-APHIS-WS, Operational Support Staff, 4700 River Rd., Unit 87, Riverdale, MD 20737, Ph: 301/734-7921.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits for the removal or elimination of protected wildlife species when necessary. Contact the USDA-APHIS-WS office in your area first for an evaluation of the problem and help with the permit process if it is determined this action is warranted. (The national USDA-APHIS-WS office can give you the number of the appropriate contact in your state.)
If you are not a "do-it-yourselfer," or for certain potentially hazardous situations as diseased animal removal, calling in a private company may be your best option. Nuisance wildlife control operators (NWCOs) include wildlife management specialty companies as well as "general practice" pest control companies that also do pest control for termites and other structural pests. You can find these professionals in the Yellow Pages of your phone book under Pest Control Operators, Animal Control or Wildlife Control.
When hiring a professional for any specialized work, ask for several references and find out how many times the person or firm has dealt with problems similar to yours. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau. Be sure to ask for a complete explanation of all of your options and weigh the pros and cons of each before choosing a course of action.