MANAGING WILDLIFE DAMAGE PROBLEMS IN KENTUCKY: ASSISTANCE, PROCEDURES,
POLICIES AND REGULATIONS
Thomas G. Barnes, Extension Wildlife Specialist;
Bernice Constantin, USDA / APHIS / ADC;
Thomas Edwards, Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources
Most wildlife species (defined as undomesticated
animals with a backbone, excluding man) are beneficial; however, they can
cause problems when they are in the wrong place at the right time. As human
populations continue to increase, wildlife-human conflicts are also likely
Every wildlife-human conflict does
not necessarily require control. It is long-term sustained damage that
reaches some economic or personal threshold that requires corrective action.
Thus, the primary objective of a wildlife damage control program is to
alleviate a problem, not destroy wildlife.
Wildlife damage control methods are
essentially the opposite of techniques to improve wildfire habitat. Because
all wildlife require food, shelter, water and space to survive, wildlife
managers try to find out which requirement is in short supply or limiting
population growth if they are trying to increase the population. Managers
then apply appropriate techniques to provide the limiting requirement,
thus increasing population size.
Wildlife damage control seeks to eliminate
or make the environment "inhospitable" by moving one or more of the essential
requirements, thus reducing the target wildlife population. If this is
not possible or practical, alternative actions may be taken after thorough
There is no "cookbook" approach to
dealing with animal damage problems. Each individual situation must be
examined based on a variety of factors, including:
• species of animal causing the
• severity of damage,
• season and duration of damage,
• legal status of the animal,
• biological and ecological considerations
• available types of prevention
and control methods (non-lethal and lethal) and
• economic considerations.
When control is appropriate, specific
management techniques should be applied at the time, point and place where
the animal is most vulnerable.
The best type of program to solve wildlife
damage problems is based on the following principles:
1.In most cases it is biologically
impossible to control the entire population. In addition, most damage is
caused by a relatively few individuals, not the entire population. One
exception is when roosting or feeding activities of some bird species conflict
with human interests. In these special cases, hundreds or thousands of
individuals may be involved, and special control measures are necessary.
2.When the individual animal(s)
causing the problem are removed, the damage will cease. However, damage
may be caused by another individual if the habitat or original attractant
3.The people who experience
the problem are in the best position to locate the individual animal and
reduce losses promptly. In some cases, especially those involving bird
roosts with hundreds or thousands of birds, the problem may be beyond the
scope of the individual to resolve, and professional assistance may be
necessary to solve the problem.
The first step in solving a wildlife
damage problem is correct identification of the species involved. This
is important because any one technique is not appropriate for all wildlife
species. For example, controlling coyote damage may require trapping or
snaring, while a pesticide may be more appropriate for commensal rodent
(house mice, black rats, Norway rats) control or large bird roosts creating
a public health hazard.
Many wildlife damage problems can be
solved by applying preventive measures, such as habitat modification, barrier
control or repellents. Preventive measures, the preferred methods in most
cases, are most effective when damage can be predicted well in advance.
Examples of preventive measures include erecting a fence to keep out coyotes
or other predators or sealing off entrances into a building where hats,
birds or snakes could enter.
After the initial damage assessment,
the first step in managing a wildlife damage problem is to examine the
food, shelter, water and space needs of the wildlife species causing the
damage. Can the habitat be altered to make it less hospitable? Can the
source of food, shelter or water be removed? Habitat modification generally
produces long-lasting control.
If the habitat cannot be modified,
can an effective barrier be placed to keep the animal from the site of
damage? Effective barriers may include fences, hardware cloth, heavy sheet
metal or individual tree guard tubes.
Other methods of keeping animals away
from the site of damage may include using a visual, auditory or chemical
repellent Visual repellents may include aluminum pie fins or foil hanging
in the breeze, balloons or brightly colored plastic. Auditory repellents
include any device which produces a loud noise, such as bird rockets, propane
cannons or a radio playing loud music.
Chemical repellents are classified
as area repellents if they produce a foul smell to keep animals away or
contact repellents if the repellent produces a bad taste in the animal's
mouth after chewing on the substance or produces an adverse behavioral
reaction signaling other animals to move away.
The next step in managing a wildlife
problem is to remove the offending animal using safe and effective methods.
Various traps or snares are available which can catch animals safely and
humanely. Shooting is effective in moving individual animals in rural areas.
Remember, unless you are somehow exempt, you must have a valid Kentucky
hunting license to shoot a firearm in the state during any season of the
If all else fails, a pesticide registered
for that particular wildlife species can be used. Private individuals must
be trained and certified in order to buy and use Restricted Use Pesticides.
This training is available at your county Extension office.
After the problem has been remedied
and the individual offending animal(s) removed, be sure to repair any damage
to buildings or other structures. Seal all entrances where hats, birds
or snakes could enter a building. These actions prevent further damage.
If preventive techniques are not used, the features that attracted the
animal still remain, with the possibility of another animal moving in and
continuing to damage your property.
Sources of Assistance
A variety of programs and agencies
provide assistance or information on managing wildlife damage problems.
The Kentucky Cooperative Extension
Service provides a wide range of information on prevention and control
of wildlife damage. County agents and specialists receive up-to-date training
on handling a variety of wildlife damage situations.
Publications are available for many
of Kentucky's wildlife problems, including coyotes, moles, deer, chipmunks,
rabbits, native mice, bats, snakes and woodpeckers. These publications
provide details on life histories and methods for recognizing, preventing
and controlling damage. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service
office, located in every Kentucky county, for more information.
The United States Department of
Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage
Control (USDA / APHIS / ADC) is the agency that provides most of the
on-site assistance with bird damage control in Kentucky. APHIS is responsible
for all major migratory bird problems, waterfowl including Canada geese
and some resident nongame and non-furbearing animal problems. APHIS personnel
also provide information and advice to people who have other wildlife damage
Field representatives of APHIS responsible
for Kentucky are located in Louisville. Other field representatives who
may work in Kentucky are located in eastern, central and western Tennessee.
People who have wildlife damage problems (including those from beaver)
within a county which has a cooperative agreement may be eligible for on-site
assistance from APHIS personnel. Contact the USDA/APHIS/ADC office in Louisville
for more information.
The primary responsibility of the Kentucky
Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) is to manage and
preserve wildlife and their habitat in the state. The KDFWR provides information
and advice on managing wildlife populations and preventing damage from
resident wildlife species, including white-tailed deer, coyote and beaver.
The KDFWR also issues permits to kill nuisance animals when other appropriate
control methods fail.
Some commercial pest control operators
may assist people in urban areas with managing problem wildlife species.
Many pest control operators will handle problems with Norway and black
rats, house mice, pigeons, starlings, house sparrows, raccoons and squirrels
for a fee. These companies are listed in your local telephone directory.
Commercial pest control operators must
obtain a license from KDFWR for controlling vertebrate wildlife populations.
This permit, along with appropriate certification and licensing through
the Division of Pesticides in the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, allows
the use of any chemical or device approved by the Environmental Protection
Agency and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture for controlling wildlife
Other sources of information and
assistance include the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and the
Health Department. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture is responsible
for consultation and technical assistance with controlling late spring,
summer and early fall small (one or two trees) residential blackbird and
Larger bird-roosting problems must
be referred to the USDA/APHIS/ADC office in Louisville. The Health Department
is responsible for problems associated with commensal rodents and situations
involving public health nuisances.
Laws and Regulations
Wildlife is a public-owned resource
protected by federal and state laws. Before beginning any wildfire damage
control program, you should determine the legal status of the animal, because
laws will influence which wildfire damage control techniques can be used.
The KDFWR and the U.S. Fish and Wildfire Service are responsible for laws
related to wildlife protection, management and animal damage control.
Federal Agency Regulations
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
is responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (as amended),
the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 (as amended) and the Migratory Bird Treaty
Act of 1918 (as amended). Because of these laws, it is illegal to kill,
destroy or harm any endangered or threatened wildlife species or any migratory
bird except the feral pigeon, European staffing and English sparrow.
A federal permit must be obtained before
any federally protected migratory species may be taken, possessed or transported.
This includes whole birds, any bird part, eggs or nest. This permit is
not required only when the following conditions are present under the provisions
of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act:
"Yellow-headed, bi-colored and tri-colored,
red-winged, rusty and Brewer's blackbirds, cowbirds, all grackles, crows
and magpies when committing or about to commit depredation upon ornamental
or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock or wildlife, or when concentrated
in such numbers and manner as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance."
Federal permit application form requests and a $25.00 processing fee
should be made to:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Law Enforcement Permit Office
P.O. Box 4839
Atlanta, GA 30302
Telephone (404) 331-3555
The following Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
Statutes (or laws) are related to wildlife damage control:
150.105. DESTRUCTION OR CONTROL
OF ANIMALS CAUSING DAMAGE.
Notwithstanding any other provisions
of this chapter, the commissioner may, with the approval of the commission,
authorize conservation officers or any other persons to destroy or bring
under control in such mariner as he deems necessary any wild animals, fish
or wild birds, protected and unprotected, which are causing damage to persons,
property or other animals, fish or birds, or spreading diseases, and which
in his judgment should be eliminated or controlled to prevent further damage.
150.170 (8). KILLING OF ANIMALS
Resident landowners, their spouses
or dependent children who kill or trap on their lands any wildlife causing
damage to such lands or personal property situated thereon, shall not be
required to have a hunting or trapping license. Tenants or their dependent
children residing upon said lands shall also have the same privilege. Upon
destruction of any wildlife by the above-specified individuals, such act
must be reported to the department or the resident conservation officer
for the proper disposition of the carcass.
150.320. BIRDS NOT PROTECTED-NESTS
(1)No person shall take any
wild bird except game birds or live raptors for which there is an open
season, either under the laws of Kentucky and the regulations of the department
or the laws of the United States, except those birds mentioned in subsection
(2) of this section.
(2)This chapter does not protect
or in any way limit the taking of the crow, the starling or the English
sparrow, but any persons taking any of them must have a hunting license.
(3)No person shall take, disturb
or destroy the nest or eggs of any wild birds except for raptors as prescribed
150.365. FIRE, EXPLOSIVES, ELECTRIC
DEVICES, GAS, SMOKE TO TAKE WILDLIFE PROHIBITED.
No wildlife may be taken as the result
of a fire or any type of explosives or with the aid of any mechanical,
electric or hand-operated sonic recording devices, except as specified
by regulation. No persons shall use smoke or gas or in any other way molest
or destroy the den, hole or nest of any wildlife, nor shall any person
burn a field for the purpose of driving game, except employees or agents
of the department in carrying out investational,research or improvement
(1)No person shall set, use,
or maintain, for the purpose of taking wildlife, any steel trap unless
the size and type of the trap hav been approved by the commissioner and
the commission by regulation.
(2)The commissioner may approve,
by regulation, any commerically manufactured trap which is designed to
take wildlife alive and unhurt or to kill instantly.
(3)Subject to the provisions
of KRS 150.410, it shall be lawful to use snares, deadfalls, wire cage
or box traps, but no person shall set, use or maintain a snare large enough
to take deer, elk, or bear.
(4)Any manufacturer designing
a new trap may send a sample to the commissioner for approval or disapproval
150.410. TAGGING OF TRAPS-VISITING
TRAP LINE-PROTECTION OF DOMESTIC ANIMALS.
(1)No persons shal set, use
or maintain a trap for the purpose of taking wildlife unless there is attached
thereto a metal tag giving the name and address o fthe person setting,
using or maintaining trap. The commission may furnish a tag, at cost, to
(2)Each person who sets a trap
for the purpose of taking wildlife shall visit the same at least once every
twenty-four (24) hours and remove any wildlife found therein.
(3)No person shall set a trap
in such manner as unreasonably to endanger the life or safety of any domestic