Humane Wildlife Control: A Complete Guide [2024]

Last Modified on December 29, 2023 by Zachary Smith

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If you want to get rid of pests on your property, humane wildlife removal is the way to go.

While dealing with damaging, destructive pests can be frustrating, it’s essential to treat them responsibly during every phase of the removal process.

In addition to being good for the animals, humane removal tactics are better for the environment and ecosystem.

At Smith’s Pest Management, we provide holistic, comprehensive, and humane pest removal services for customers in and around the San Francisco Bay Area, so we understand how to remove pests responsibly and ethically.

In this blog, we’ll share our top tips for getting rid of pests humanely and how to choose the best tactics for you.

What is Humane Wildlife Control?

wildlife control methods

Put simply, humane wildlife control is the process of managing pest species like skunks, raccoons, deer, and ground squirrels ethically and responsibly.

While we’d all like to live in a world where we get to decide which animals exist in and around our property, that’s just not possible, and that’s why humane wildlife control is necessary. Humane wildlife control becomes especially critical when wildlife populations conflict with human properties or activities.

What sets humane wildlife control apart from conventional pest management approaches is that humane tactics minimize suffering, stress, and harm for pest species to the extent possible. It also recognizes the rights of animals to live, prioritizes the well-being of animals, and leverages tactics like live trapping, relocation, and removal whenever possible.

Pest management professionals that utilize humane wildlife control methods address pest populations in the following ways:

  • Understand wildlife behavior and patterns
  • Implement preventative and exclusionary measures to keep pests from entering and harming properties
  • Utilize non-lethal, safe, effective techniques (like live trapping) to remove pests from properties when needed

Humane wildlife control aims to balance the needs of humans and wildlife while promoting coexistence and preserving the natural environment.

Wildlife Control Methods

wildlife control technician

Curious about the wildlife control methods our team uses in our fieldwork? Here’s what we recommend:

1.    Live Traps

When people think of humane wildlife control methods, they usually think of live traps. Live traps are generally cage-style traps that contain pests like raccoons, rats, and ground squirrels without killing them. Once the animal is inside the cage, it can be relocated.

While we support the use of live traps, there are some caveats:

  • First, you need to monitor live traps several times a day and release trapped animals immediately. This ensures the animal isn’t suffering from exposure or stress inside the cage.
  • For live trapping to be effective, you also need to implement good exclusion tactics that prevent pests from re-entering your property or home—more on that in the next section.

Pros: Humane, effective, inexpensive, not dangerous to other animals or non-target species

Cons: Setting effective traps requires time and expertise, you must check and empty traps several times a day, and effective relocation may be impossible due to local laws and regulations

2.    Exclusion Tactics

One of the most critical humane wildlife control tactics is exclusion. Exclusion means identifying pest access points and plugging or closing them up proactively.

Exclusion tactics can be effective for various pests, including spiders, insects, rodents, birds, and more.

Examples of exclusion tactics include the following:

  • Installing door sweeps
  • Using caulk or steel wool to fill gaps and holes in your home’s siding and foundation
  • Installing or repairing household screens
  • Putting grates over vents and pipes that enter the home
  • Installing exclusion fencing around high-interest areas like gardens

In addition to being humane, exclusion methods are non-toxic and essential for protecting a home from all pests – not just the ones you’re struggling to control.

Pros: Effective, non-toxic, humane

Cons: Time-consuming, can be expensive, will not remove existing pests from your property

Do’s and Don’ts of Humane Wildlife Control

  • Do understand that pests are part of the natural world, and their presence can be inevitable.
  • Do keep pest-attracting food and shelter from accumulating in your home and on your property wherever possible.
  • Do keep doors and windows sealed and screened and yards fenced
  • Do hire a professional who is concerned about humane pest control to help!
  • Don’t make your own repellents or pesticides
  • Don’t relocate trapped wildlife
  • Don’t waste money on pest repellent noise makers and other “too good to be true” gimmicks. If these things were effective, they would be used by the pros.

Laws and Regulations You Need to Know About

When it comes to humane wildlife control tactics, it’s essential to understand the laws and regulations that affect your area.

Many states, for example, have laws that make it illegal to trap or relocate pest animals.

If you trap pests, your state may mandate that you release the animal in the vicinity it was captured, or humanely euthanize it immediately.

Other states outlaw certain pesticides and rodenticides or prohibit their use for everyone but pest management professionals.

For more information about laws and regulations in your area, consult your local branch of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

How to Keep Wildlife Away from Your Property

keep wildlife away from property

When it comes to wildlife management, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The more effectively you can keep animals away in the first place, the easier it will be to avoid infestations.

With that in mind, we recommend a holistic approach to pest prevention, which includes the following:

  • Habitat modification. Sanitization is the first line of defense against pests like rats, raccoons, and cockroaches. Generally, you can decrease pest problems by removing available food and shelter and making your space unwelcoming for pests.
  • Exclusion tactics. Next, we recommend focusing on exclusion tactics like the ones listed above. Seal all gaps and cracks in your home, install exclusion fencing, and use door sweeps, wire mesh, or gopher baskets (depending on the type of pest present) to decrease damage.
  • Trapping. You may need to implement a trapping program to remove large pest populations. We recommend working with a pest management team, like Smith’s Pest Management, to do this effectively. Animals are smart, and they’ll learn to avoid traps unless they’re set correctly. A team of professionals can help you ensure an efficient trapping program that gets the job done.
  • Deterrents. Use deterrents like motion-activated lights or sprinklers to keep pests like raccoons and deer away from your property. Store-bought spray deterrents can also be effective for rodents and burrowing animals.
  • Assistance from a professional pest management team. Last but not least, invest in assistance from a team of pest management professionals. This is the best way to ensure effective, humane wildlife control tactics and get infestations under control as quickly as possible.

5 Tips to Choose a Humane Wildlife Control Company

raccoons in a live trap

If you’re in the market for a humane wildlife control company, finding a team that prioritizes professional, humane, eco-friendly tactics is critical.

Here are a few tips to find a company that fits the bill:

1. Ask for a written estimate

Before you hire any pest removal company, you should always request an inspection and a written estimate.

There are two reasons for this:

First, a written estimate allows you to budget accurately for pest removal and provides a rundown of the company’s services and fees.

Secondly, a written estimate allows you to identify unethical fees and practices.

Ultimately, it’s a great way to gauge the company’s professionalism and effectiveness and get an early read on whether they’re the team you want to work with.

2. Ask for specifics on how the team intends to handle the infestation

During the inspection and estimate process, the wildlife control team should provide a breakdown of their pest management plan.

This should include the following:

  • An outline of which animal(s) are present on the property
  • Information about how the animals are accessing and using your structures or property
  • Details about how the team intends to address the infestation

If you have questions about any of the considerations above, don’t hesitate to ask for more details. The team should be transparent and forthcoming about their process and work with you to find a solution that works for your property.

3. Look for a team that insists on humane removal

It’s critical to hire a team that prioritizes humane pest removal tactics.

This means that animals inside structures should be removed via one-way doors, live trapping, or other hands-on removal tactics that prioritize animal wellness and lead to the release of the animals outside the structure.

The team should also take steps to prevent re-infestation via exclusion tactics and animal-proofing methods that provide ongoing pest control.

This is important because animals have a right to live and because inhumane pest removal tactics are illegal or restricted in many areas.

4. Ask for referrals

Before you hire a humane wildlife control company, ask for referrals from trusted local sources.

These may include friends, family members, local wildlife rehabilitators, or sanctuaries prioritizing humane animal handling practices.

5. Only hire licensed and insured teams

Any animal removal company you work with should be fully licensed and insured.

This provides you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing the company complies with federal and state rules and regulations and that the team carries the liability insurance and licenses needed to provide ethical and effective service.

Looking for Humane Wildlife Control in the San Francisco Bay Area? We Can Help

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we believe all animals serve a purpose in the ecosystem and deserve to be treated humanely.

Because of that, we provide eco-friendly, humane pest control methods to manage populations of rats, ground squirrels, voles, moles, and other critters.

Contact us today at (408) 871-6988 to learn more about our pest management practices, or to request your free pest management quote.

Author Bio: Zach Smith

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 15+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.