The Wildlife Society (TWS) policy statement for wildlife damage control (1992) states: "Prevention or control of wildlife damage . . . is an essential and responsible part of wildlife management."
Wildlife managers and agricultural specialists are often familiar with damage caused by wild animals to livesto ck, crops, and other types of private and public property. Conover and Decker (1991) surveyed wildlife managers and agricultural specialists throughout the United States and concluded that damage caused by wild animals was a major agricultural problem. Twenty-seven species were cited as causing the greatest problems. From a national perspective, deer reportedly caused the most damage, followed by elk, raccoons, beavers, blackbirds, and coyotes.
Under some conditions wild animals are reservoirs of diseases, presenting a threat to other wildlife populations, to domestic animals, and to human health. Also, public safety is at risk from automobile and aircraft collisions with wild animals.
People usually enjoy having wild animals near their homes and most are willing to tolerate moderate damage from wildlife. You can control some wildlife damage on your own. Others times, before acting, you may need information about the life histories of the animals causing problems, the legal status of the animals, and suggestions about controlling damage.
You may decide you prefer professional, onsite help to solve wildlife damage problems. And there are some situations that will require onsite professional help.
Wildlife damage control programs can be thought of as having four parts:
(1) problem definition
(2) ecology of the problem species
(3) control methods application
(4) evaluation of control
Problem definition refers to determining the species and numbers of animals causing the problem, the amount of loss or nature of the conflict, and other biological and social factors related to the problem.
Ecology of the problem species refers to understanding the life history of the species, especially in relation to the conflict.
Control methods application refers to taking the information gained from parts 1 and 2 to develop an appropriate management program to alleviate or reduce the conflict.
Evaluation of control allows an assessment of the reduction in damage in relation to costs and impact of the control on target and nontarget populations and the environment. Increasingly, emphasis is being placed on integrated pest management whereby several control methods are combined and coordinated with other management practices in use at that time.
Damage by wild animals to ornamental plants, buildings, roads, and other structures can be serious. Some of the most costly problems are caused by house mice, Norway and roof rats, beavers, and deer. Wild animals also cause nuisance problems, particularly in urban areas. Nuisance problems range from feces left on golf course greens by ducks and geese and garbage raccoons, to disturbing sounds made as small mammals move in attics and walls, as well as problems caused by bats, tree squirrels, raccoons, woodpeckers, ducks and geese, and other problem species.