Tips for Hiring a Wildlife Control Operator
Some quick definitions before we get started.
People who handle wildlife damage problems can be designated by a number of terms.
- NWCO - means Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator
- WCO - means Wildlife Control Operator
- PAC - Problem Animal Controller; term used in Massachusetts
- PCO - Pest Control Operator - This is who you would call for insects control such as termites or ants. Exterminators also fall into this category.
- ACO - Animal Control Officer - This is who you would call if you have an issue with DOMESTIC animals such as dogs or cats. They do not not handle wildlife complaints. These are township or county employees.
When hiring a WCO, It is imperative that you:
- Ask if he/she is a member of their state animal damage control association (not every state has one but many do). Check out our list. Membership doesn't prove quality but it does show the person at least cares enough for the industry to participate in its future.
- Compare prices of other WCOs in your area to assist with getting a fair price for the service. Some WCO work can be expensive if it involves extra expertise, materials and/ or labor to solve your problem.
- Home visits usually involve a service charge, just the same for any service based company such as plumber or appliance repair. A reasonable fee for the WCO’s time and travel is customary. Do not feel obligated to hire a WCO after a home or site inspection. Most WCOs can give an estimate over the phone for routine wildlife situations, such as groundhog removal. However, some situations will require a site inspection first to ascertain the amount of work to be done and the labor and materials required to complete the job.
- Get detailed instructions on the work to be performed.
- Have all services and any guarantees in writing.
- Do not sign any contract until an acceptable fee is agreed upon. A signed contract is usually considered a legal document and you will be responsible for any fees charged by the WCO.
- Understand that it is against state law to permit routine relocation of wildlife. The State of NJ has a relocation policy that must be adhered to.
- Do not allow any WCO to place any substance inside or around your home without investigating the effects of such substances. There are no registered poisons for squirrels, and any such use is a violation of State and Federal Law. Have the WCO provide documentation explaining the effi cacy of any substance applied. Large quantities of moth balls (naphthalene) can be dangerous to your health and are rarely effective in solving wildlife problems.
- Do not allow anyone to pressure or frighten you into signing a contract or performing a service immediately. Most wildlife problems can wait. Bats inside the living quarters of a home is the most notable exception. All bats found inside the home should be submitted for rabies testing by The Health Department.
- Be suspicious of any claims or statements made by a WCO that sound extraordinary, especially if such claims involve a high fee for any such service. If a WCO cannot guarantee the work without such costly services, try another WCO. There are very few quick fixes in wildlife control.
- Think you are being overcharged? Consider the following:
- How dangerous is the job? (ladder work is always dangerous)
- How difficult is it to control the species?
- How much travel and equipment is involved to resolve the problem? The job is not complete when the animal is captured and/or removed.
- What kind of warranty of guarantee does the wildlife control operator give? Depending on the species, a month to a year is sufficient. Also, guarantees are only as good as the company who gives them. If they go out of business, the guarantee means nothing.
- Remember quality companies that have insurance, good equipment and training have high costs. While high prices don't guarantee quality, low prices almost always guarantee that the person is not insured. Beware of low-bid companies.
- Be careful of anyone who says they are going to spray something to drive the animal out. Some states do no allow chemicals to be used on wildlife. I also have concerns about the effectiveness and/or safety of this technique. (There are gray areas such as using fox urine to evict certain animals. On technical grounds, the person probably should have a pesticide license and the insurance that goes along with the license).
- Finally, ask yourself some questions. Are you willing to follow the operator's recommendations? If not then don't blame the NWCO for when something goes wrong.