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After 28 years in the equestrian industry, Katherine McGill experienced a life turn towards the joys, and struggles, of urban wildlife.
Living between Florida and Colorado she became entrenched in how to resolve the overwhelming myths and confusion people have about the wild animals living in their backyards.
Today’s society, unlike our ancestors, has little knowledge of animals beyond domestic pets.
Too often information from the media, health agencies, and even wildlife agencies, is exaggerated and lacks proper perspective. Katherine strives each day to learn about our backyard wild animals and to educate others on how to co-exist with them in harmony, how to properly help them, and when not to help.
Her favorite animal is the raccoon, she says, for it is “downright the most intelligent and amusing animal she has ever known”.
Her current business 411 Raccoon Solutions, based in Florida, is a group of specialists exceptionally experienced in resolving wildlife intrusions utilizing 21st Century innovative methods combined with extensive hands-on knowledge of our urban wildlife species – and no company knows raccoons better than 411 Wildlife does!
Katherine is also an established author and journalist. Below is one of her publications:
Nuisance wildlife abuse – buyer beware
April 8, 2012 11:24 AM MST
It’s spring. For wildlife removal trappers this means money, for many of their customers it's time to be deceived. The rampant deception results in others often needing to cope with the carnage left behind. For our few good-hearted wildlife rehabilitators scattered across the country, this carnage is part of “Baby Season”; a routine of chaos, sleepless nights, ringing phones, heart-breaking loss, reaffirming triumphs, scraping pennies and patiently dealing with a whole lot of upset trapping customers who just didn’t know what they really should know.
Instead of addressing various species and scenarios, protocols for obtaining assistance, what to do, what not to do, I will insert many useful links and hope that you will bookmark them. If you need to find a rehabilitator start here, this list is not complete but someone near you should be able to provide a referral. Your state wildlife agency website should have the most current rehabilitation listings, although you may have to hunt (pun intended) to find that page on their site. If you have a wildlife conflict or intrusion, please click here first!
Lying. That is what you need to know today. Who is lying to you, why they are lying and why they can keep lying to you. Ignorance to antiquated wildlife control is the polar opposite of bliss.
Over half of the wild animals every year that are sent to rehabilitators should not be! They are the carnage of a ludicrously unregulated, unscrupulous industry known as “Trappers”, “Pest Control”, “Wildlife Removal Services”, and amateurs lacking knowledge, guiding rules or patience in properly resolving conflicts ... CONTINUE READING >>>>
Rocky Raccoon will be Happier in the Woods. Right? Wrong.
Buyer beware. Killing bugs and rodents is regulated, but the wildlife removal industry, with over 20,000 companies operating in Florida (and several other states), is not. Shockingly, the FWC (FL Wildlife Agency) stopped issuing nuisance wildlife trapping permits several years ago. The list of Nuisance Trappers provided at MyFWC.com is just a self-listing created by the trappers themselves.
Is Relocation a Humane option? -- No! Raccoons suffer a 75% mortality rate within the first year. Mortality rate for relocated squirrels jumps to 97% within three months. The nuisance wildlife industry misuses the word “humane” to the point of being fraudulent. This is partly our own fault – because it’s what we want to hear – and now this industry excels in abusing that knowledge about us.
For a wild animal, to be caught in any kind of trap is a terrifying vulnerability. Within minutes stress can cause cortisone levels to spike and their immune system to become jeopardized. They often injure themselves. One tiny, unseen scratch can later become a slow, painful death by infection. Not an image that should help anyone to sleep better.
Solid science. Nature ensures any wildlife population size to be dictated by food supply. Dumping animals into an existing territory (already at its own carrying capacity) is unfair to both the resident animals and to the dumpee. Rocky will be run off. S/he has no clue where to find food, water, shelter.
And that vacancy you just created at home? Several more animals, potentially worse behaved or even sick, will be coming along to fill it soon. Science is proving that indiscriminate removal can backfire against population reduction attempts. Think about that? That is job security for the trapping industry, and we remain the suckers who repeatedly hire them. Einstein summed it up well: “The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Indiscriminate trapping is not a solution; it’s a short-lived band-aid at best.
Is Relocation Legal in FL? Yes. And No. It’s nearly impossible to meet relocation requirements: Relocation must be in the same county, no rabies alert in effect, and be 40 contiguous acres of private property with written permission by property owner. Good luck! No public parks allowed, and no proclaimed “sanctuaries” exist. Some trappers hold an essentially bogus property permission slip to appease Centers that refer humane-minded callers to them – but that paper in the file means absolutely nothing. Many animals believed relocated are killed and not quickly or humanely. They are also sold to fur dealers, sold to Houndsmen for dog-training, or left inside traps and/or hot trucks to die slowly. Further, if a trapper tells you he’s required to kill raccoons? He’s also lying. He should be practicing Eviction & Exclusion methods, but as long as people keep paying old dogs to do old tricks? The abuse of both animals and consumers goes on, unchecked.
Rocky often leaves behind more than just a vacancy sign. Offspring are almost always present when a raccoon takes up residence in a Florida structure. For many wildlife rehabilitators, the orphans caused by the trapping industry create a considerable burden that exceeds 50% of their capacity resources every year. That now leaves this vital resource of volunteers unavailable to the public for assisting with distressed wildlife – which in turn jeopardizes public safety. Many shelters are also overwhelmed by trapped cats, which are often required by law to be surrendered. But who is watching?
Good Samaritans can not be expected to kill baby wildlife left behind from trapping jobs. Babies don’t go into traps, so a trapper, who typically only knows how to bait & set a trap, leaves unsuspecting homeowners with the added, very expensive crisis of dead or dying offspring removal. Open you wallets wider now, folks. If we only had a dollar for each time a citizen asked us “why didn’t the trapper warn us about offspring, or inform us about these other options…?” The answer is obvious, he wants your money – and, he only knows what he knows.
Do numbers matter? Exactly how many of our publicly owned wildlife animals are being trapped by this industry? Which species? How are they being disposed of when caught? What crime are they being killed for? Shouldn’t somebody be keeping track? Remember, no permitting of nuisance wildlife control operators also means no annual reportingcollected from them.
Precisely what defines “nuisance”, “annoyance”, or “threat”, or “property damage” anyway? The definitions are beyond vague and highly subjective. Since wanton waste of wildlife is a violation, shouldn’t this industry be governed accordingly? Great questions, let’s start asking them.
Is an animal simply passing by someone’s house really such a nuisance that the animal should be removed or killed for? Yet trappers take those calls every day. Should animals getting into unsecured trash or pet food we left outside be a crime, or should it be human error? There’s a trapper daily taking those jobs daily, too. Every day, all year long, unknown but presumed millions of animals are unjustly killed by this industry, and most not by even remotely humane standards.
Community Animal Shelters: Whether privately or governmentally funded, all share a Mission to ensure humane treatment of animals; touphold state cruelty statutes. Referring citizens to an unregulated industry with a self-created listing of questionable companies is not abiding by that Mission. Our local shelters may no longer provide services for nuisance wildlife conflicts, but, in order to honor and uphold their Mission they do have an obligation to refer citizens to genuinely humane, 21st Century service providers. Ask your shelter to.
What’s the 21st Century Solution?
Accept the science. Eviction and exclusion via trained wildlife specialists works! Over 90% of the wildlife conflicts resolved properly on-site are completely effective and are long term.
They are science based and less expensive. Sadly, the adage “teaching old dogs new tricks” is very relevant here. Conventional trap, kill, removal or toxic gassing methods are engrained in the system and these operators can be more stubborn than that raccoon, opossum or squirrel that insists on dining at your birdfeeders. Until we demand reform, this industry presents far greater risks to our natural urban landscape than any of these critters do.
Consumers have virtually no protection when utilizing wildlife removal services. Rocky serves a vital purpose yet he has even less protection. It’s up to you, the public, to consider their unseen value, and to protect both yourself and our natural wildlife.
Check reviews, such as the Better Business Bureau. Read contracts carefully, be aware of hidden costs and risks (and of what sounds too good to be true) and learn about effective, non-lethal solutions. Relocation is definitely NOT one of them.