Pest control professionals know that quality service requires quality information. As webmaster for the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (www.icwdm.org), I am regularly reminded that, often, the public believes inaccurate and sometimes dangerous wildlife control information. You may have heard reports of people using crushed glass, gasoline, cat feces, Wrigley chewing gum, or other preposterous solutions in the hopes of controlling moles.
Sadly, some of these control myths are believed by some pest control professionals. But where does one go to find quality, research-based information?
Digital Resources. Digital resources cover materials available through the Internet, be they written documents or podcasts. Before mentioning specific resources, it’s important to understand how to perform an efficient Internet search for wildlife information. There is a lot of bad information out there, and you don’t need to waste your time reading it.
Here are some tips to improve your results:
If looking for information on a particular species, use its scientific name. “Sciurus carolinensis” is better than “gray squirrel,” for instance. Scientific names help reduce hobby sites.
Use a specific search string. “Cage trapping techniques Sciurus carolinensis,” may return more useful results than “trapping squirrels.” If results are scant, reduce the number of search terms until you find something helpful.
Narrow your focus further by adding “.gov” or “.edu” to your search list. You are more likely to find research-based and objective information from government and education websites than from their commercial counterparts. Compare the results after searching for “wildlife control” and “wildlife control .edu.” You might be surprised at the difference.
Use the right search engine. Google is fine, but it often returns too many of the aforementioned commercial websites. Try Google Scholar and Google Books — oftentimes you will not be able to view the entire publication, but available portions may contain enough information to answer your query.
My website, The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, is home to much research-based information on wildlife control topics. Notable materials include the complete copy of Prevention and Control of Wildlife Damage, a useful resource. With the right information, you can convince skeptical customers about strategies to resolve wildlife conflicts.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Digital Commons (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu) is an online library containing thousands of hard-to-find publications related to wildlife (though there’s far more pertaining to all topics, as well). The database’s holdings consist of technical materials, including Proceedings of the Bird Control Conferences, Vertebrate Pest Control Conference Proceedings, The Southern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Newsletters, and much more. The database’s search function is a breeze. When you encounter a difficult situation in the field, or need to learn about controlling the damage of a less-common species, this is the first place you should look.
The Wildlife Pro Network (http://thewildlifepro.net/our-podcasts) has more than 400 podcasts on wildlife control topics. They are not professional products, but Robb Russell’s guests are highly experienced wildlife control operators who will divulge key techniques and strategies. You can download these podcasts for free, and listen to them between jobs on your .mp3 player.
Print Resources. The National Wildlife Control Training Program is a 250-page training manual designed for beginner wildlife control technicians published by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Cornell University. It is the first training certified by the National Wildlife Control Operators Association and several states are considering adopting it for licensing. The training covers all the fundamental issues, including disease safety, inspection, animal handling, euthanasia and carcass disposal, and more. Find out more at wildlifecontroltraining.com.
Inspection is an essential skill in wildlife control work. Failure to properly identify the cause of damage will result in lost time and money. Most of the books suggested have sample pages available through Google Scholar. Each text offers its own benefits, so read widely. Here are some good ones:
- The Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd Edition, by Stephen M. Vantassel
- Animal Skulls: A Guide to North American Species, by Mark Elbroch
- Bird Tracks & Sign, by Mark Elbroch
- Mammal Tracks & Sign, by Mark Elbroch
- Peterson Guide to Animal Tracks, by Mark Elbroch
- Tracking Canids: Track and Trail Synopsis, by Jim Halfpenny, D. Ireland, L. Bonn and D. Thompson
In addition, September is always PCT’s annual wildlife control issue and there is a magazine dedicated to wildlife damage and management: Wildlife Control Technology, which publishes six times per year and has been serving the industry since 1994.
In-Person Training. Sometimes knowledge is best obtained by attending conferences and workshops. Here are some useful ones:
- The Vertebrate Pest Conference is the longest-running conference in wildlife control. It meets biannually during even-numbered years in California. Learn more at http://wpconference.org
- The Wildlife Damage Management Conference takes place in odd-numbered years, and moves around the country — though never in California. The next event will be in 2013 in Georgia. Watch for details at http://joomla.wildlife.org/WildlifeDamage.
- Wildlife Damage Management, in conjunction with the University of Nebraska — Lincoln, offers on-site training and workshops. Training includes deer damage management, urban coyote management, Canada goose damage management, shooting in sensitive environments and the National Wildlife Control Program. I’m the project coordinator for these events — these and others are available upon request from the author.
It’s up to you. Failure to train you and your workers about the advances in wildlife control will result in lower profits, reduced worker satisfaction and damaged reputation. Fortunately, training in wildlife control is not very expensive — just be sure to take advantage of the opportunities to improve your skills and those of your workers.
The author is as Master NWCOA instructor and the recipient of the 2008 NWCOA Educator of the Year Award. He runs the Wildlife Control Consultant and is the project coordinator for Wildlife Damage Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.