10 wildlife control myths busted


August 14, 2019


The author handles an adult raccoon at Advantage Wildlife Removal’s New Richmond, Ohio, headquarters. PHOTO: MATTHEW ALLEN

Education will help stop misinformation at the source.

You don’t have to look hard for social media sites that contain an alarming amount of misinformation — and outright dangerous information — about wildlife control.

You may encounter misinformation not only from homeowners who pass along memes that somehow turn into “fact,” but even pest management professionals (PMPs) and wildlife control operators (WCOs).

Read on for 10 debunked wildlife control myths. Because these only scratch the surface, help bring additional bad information to light by continuing the discussion in the comments below.

Myth No. 1: Wildlife control is about catching animals.

Wildlife control is actually about solutions. Certain jobs, such as predator control, might be about wildlife alone. But for clients dealing with wildlife in structures, solutions far outweigh body count.

Think of it this way: Is a raccoon in a chimney the problem? Or is it just a symptom of the real issue — the lack of a chimney cap that would have prevented entry?

Of course, you must remove wildlife before you can provide solutions. Targeted removal, such as positive control like setting traps over or in front of known entrance holes to barricade, and then funnel exiting animals in them, or placing traps off the ground for attic or chimney entry situations, will accomplish this.

Targeting only the offending wildlife also makes good business sense, as catching random wildlife that are likely living in structures in an urban environment keeps you from receiving that call, and reaping the financial benefits from repairs on those structures.

Myth No. 2: It’s impossible to wildlife-proof a home.

While it’s true that most homes are constructed of wood, and wildlife has the ability to gnaw through wood, luckily for PMPs and WCOs, most wildlife exploit common entry points. Focus on these common areas of entry with quality repairs after all offending wildlife is removed. After that, your clients can enjoy a wildlife-free home.

Myth No. 3: All cage traps are created equal.

This is most definitely untrue! Thinking you can improve traps bought from the local farm supply store is a big mistake, as the subsequent misfires and escapes can cost a lot of time and money.

Simply put, professional model traps are designed for professionals. They offer outstanding features such as tight mesh to prevent reach-out damage, nose cones, power doors and more. If you’re just starting out, investing in quality traps will both make you money and last for years.

Myth No. 4: Catching wildlife is easy.

Catching wildlife is like the saying, “even a garbage can gets a T-bone steak occasionally.” Anyone can set a trap with sardines and catch something. But targeting and catching only the specific animals causing the pest issue — and correcting the conditions so the problem is solved permanently — is much more difficult.

Thorough inspection, ladder work, proper baiting, positive control and thinking outside the box are just a few of the tasks wildlife professionals perform on each and every job. Anything less isn’t just environmentally unsound; it’s doing clients a disservice.

Myth No. 5: Wildlife in attics always requires attic remediation.

Most professionals agree that not every home’s attic needs remediation just because an animal has entered. Unfortunately, high-pressure sales pushing full remediation on every job is becoming more common. Even more alarming is the tactic of using zoonotic issues and health risks as selling points. Educating your clients is one thing; scaring them with cherry-picked data is another.

For example, a recent Facebook post bragged about pushing the threat of histoplasmosis to sell bat jobs. The site map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t even show histoplasmosis as being a “suspected endemic” in the state in which this company operates. Such tactics should be considered fearmongering.

Insurance companies also are becoming aware of such tactics, and many are adjusting policies to exclude attic remediation due to wildlife intrusion. To be clear, wildlife in attics can require full remediation because of the compaction of insulation and fouling. But many other incidences only require “spot” cleaning and additional insulation. As professionals, we must avoid scare tactics and fear selling.

Myth No. 6: Spray foam is the only product you need to wildlife-proof a home.

While “shove some screen into the gap and foam the heck out of it” might have been a widely accepted method of exclusion years ago, those times have passed. Quality repairs that are aesthetically pleasing and fully wildlife-proof, and include a warranty, should be your goal. Repairs using custom-formed sheet metal, coil stock and other quality materials are now being performed.

Add to that the number of products that are now available to wildlife-proof other vulnerable parts of a structure, such as ridge and other roof vents, and dryer/exhaust vents.
Providing clients with quality products that don’t require fabrication and can be kept on your truck saves time and adds value — and such resources are abundant. Foam still has its place as a backer or to stop airflow, of course. But it should be a part of the solution, not the silver bullet in every situation.

Myth No. 7: Any pest control technician can succeed as a wildlife technician.

Confined spaces, height work, close proximity to wildlife, an eye for detail, and being able to deal with fearful clients are just a few of the skill sets needed. Certain new hires and established general pest technicians can be cross-trained easily. Others will find the work to be a challenge, and still others will not be the right fit at all.

Also, keep in mind that wildlife control timetables do not follow the 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. norm. Finding a technician who can excel can be a challenge. The good news is when you find the right people, they love the work and tend to stay engaged. Turnover will be low.

Myth No. 8: Inspection isn’t necessary.

Well, it’s true if you enjoy failure. Inspection is key to ending wildlife problems. Not only does inspection identify the wildlife invaders utilizing a structure, it also identifies the areas that need attention to provide wildlife-free structures for your clients. In addition, those areas needing exclusion provide revenue, so a full inspection detailing wildlife-related issues is now the norm. (Editor’s note: Read more in “The mantra of the wildlife control professional”)

A number of software programs are available to provide clients detailed reports with full estimates, including photos of issues found and related solutions you have provided for other clients. By the way, before-and-after photos of quality repairs are an unbeatable sales tool.

Myth No. 9: Wildlife control training isn’t readily available.

This is simply untrue. A number of operators volunteer their time as presenters for the NWCOA/NPMA Wildlife Expo, covering topics such as sales, removal, repairs, technology, advertising, zoonotic issues and more. Many of these presentations — and additional training — are available, and many offer continuing education units (CEUs). NWCOA also offers regional training and individual company training across the nation. All of this is provided by not-for-profit associations to improve the industry and raise professional standards.

Myth No. 10: Wildlife control is just trapping.

If you still believe that, then this article has done a poor job explaining just a few of the processes and challenges involved.

Wildlife control isn’t for everyone, just as termite work isn’t for every PMP. But if you are determined to up your game, follow wildlife control standards and obtain training, the increased revenue can be a game changer compared to simply offering trapping services.

The upcoming Wildlife Expo will focus on dispelling wildlife control myths. The National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA) and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) host the event, which will take place Feb. 4-6, 2020, in Las Vegas. Visit NWCOA.com for more information.

HOLT is owner of Advantage Wildlife Removal, New Richmond, Ohio, and current president of the National Wildlife Control Operators Association (NWCOA).


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