Letters: Opinion: Out of the Wild

Santa Barbara News-Press

Julia J. Di Sieno, the author is executive director and co-founder of Animal Rescue Team, Inc
November 11, 2012 12:35 AM

I found a recent letter to the editor in the Voices section, “Rocky relationship with local raccoons,” a little disturbing. The author asks: “Why can’t something be done?” and suggests that Animal Control does nothing with this serious problem of wildlife in residential neighborhoods. The writer says her husband used to trap and release wildlife “way back into the wilderness.”
By far, most people think trapping and relocating wildlife is a humane solution to a problem they are having with so-called nuisance wildlife. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When members of the public take matters into their own hands and use a live-animal trap to capture an animal on their property, they have no idea what they are getting into. Or, the fact that they are going to be contributing to the animal’s suffering and, most likely, premature death. And, here in California, it is illegal to trap and relocate wildlife, period. If an animal is trapped it must be released within a 3-mile radius or killed. That is the law.
Anyone who’s considering setting a trap themselves or hiring a professional trapper, please consider all other options, or call the California Department of Fish & Game. The trapping of wildlife should be used only when trying to capture an injured or sick wild animal. Our local Animal Control workers are doing their jobs by not trapping and relocating nuisance wildlife.
Following are real reasons why trapping wildlife doesn’t work.
•There is never any guarantee the offending animal will be captured. You may catch something, but how will you know it is the animal you’re after? The fact is, you don’t.
•Trapping wildlife creates orphans. There is always the potential you’ve trapped a mother that has a nest of babies somewhere.
•It is incredibly stressful for any wild animal to be trapped, and often they injure themselves trying to get out. Teeth and claws often are broken in the animal’s frantic effort to escape.
•Animals dumped in another location have no idea where the food and water sources are. This often leads to starvation and death, as well as spread of disease. Studies done on relocated wildlife that were trapped and relocated support this finding. The animal will typically die within two weeks of being relocated.
•Most likely, you will be dumping this animal in the territory of another animal, which will lead to territory disputes, and often these fights lead to serious injuries, most often death.
•If you capture a sick animal and transfer it to a healthy population, this spreads disease.
•If you remove an animal from its territory, either by trapping or killing, you have opened up a territory and another animal soon will show up to take its place. This also invites vermin, rats and other small unwanted critters.
•It doesn’t solve the problem. As long as the attractant remains — food, shelter or water — other animals will show up. Removing the source of what is attracting them is the solution.
However, laws regarding this do vary from state to state. In California, according to the Department of Fish & Game, Section 465, (G) (1), the law states that animals trapped must be released on site or killed. Below, I cut and pasted what the law states:
“(1) Immediate Dispatch or Release. All furbearing and nongame mammals that are legal to trap must be immediately killed or released. Unless released, trapped animals shall be killed by shooting where local ordinances, landowners, and safety permit. This regulation does not prohibit employees of federal, state, or local government from using chemical euthanasia to dispatch trapped animals.”
If you hire a pest control company or wildlife control company and they tell you they are relocating wildlife they are either lying to you or breaking the law.
Trapping wildlife is never the solution when dealing with nuisance wildlife.
There is a wealth of information available to the public. Wildlife Information, Literature, Data, & Education Services, or WILDES, is one of many informative educational brochures based on wildlife co-existence, aversion techniques and suggestions, as well dissuading urban wildlife from damaging your lawns, or nesting in accessible attic spaces, etc.
Please also consider that our rural water sources have dried up and, sadly, many native wild animals will die or be killed searching for something as simple as water.

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