David Seeveld - Wildlife Educator

I deal with wildlife conflicts every day. Humans share the planet with a variety of animals, and while most animals stay away from people (or are driven away by people), some animals share our urban and suburban settings, and thus we come into conflicts from time to time.

It is my belief that we have a great responsibility in these cases to resolve the conflicts the right way - in a way that is humane to the wild animals.

I have spent time with many nuisance animals - raccoons, squirrels, and even rats. These animals, just like your pet dog or cat, display very clear emotions - fear, desire, playfulness, frustration, etc. And their physical pain is very much as real as the physical pain that humans feel.

Here is a photo of me, David Seeveld, with some juvenile squirrels, shortly before I brought them to a licensed wildlife rehabber that I work closely with. But even rehabbers would be unnecessary in most cases if we handled wildlife in the correct way.

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For example, if you have squirrels in your attic, be mindful that there might be a nest of baby squirrels in the attic. Also, you don't need to trap the squirrels in cages. And you CERTAINLY don't have to kill them with body grip traps or attempt to kill them with poisons. You can solve the problem much easier, in a way that's much easier on the squirrels. Isn't that great? All you have to do is set a one-way exclusion funnel, that you can build yourself, such as seen in the below photograph!

A one-way door lets the animal continue to live in its native habitat, just not inside your house. If exclusion isn't an option, then live cage trapping is better than killing the animal. But you must use the correct trap, and check it frequently! Don't let a trapped animal sit out in the sun dehydrating or the cold, freezing. Relocate it quickly in a suitable area.

People already pursecute animals enough as it is. If you feel like it's your human right to hurt animals as you please for your own needs or convenience, then you probably haven't read this far, and there's nothing I can do to change your mind. You've probably noticed that NO ONE changes their opinion once it's set. But what I can do is educate people who do want to be nice to animals how to best solve nuisance wildlife issues with the least amount of suffering for the animals. Here are the basics:

NEVER use poison to try to solve a wildlife problem. It's not only inhumane, it almost always either fails to solve the problem, or causes more problems than it solves.

When possible, just leave the wildlife alone! Not always an option for those who want to solve a wildlife issue, but maybe consider it.

When possible, use preventative techniques instead of destructive techniques like killing animals or trapping them.

If the above don't work, exclusion techniques are better than trapping, such as I discuss above, with the one-way door.

If you do cage trap, as stated, check traps frequently, so the animal doesn't suffer in the cage. Relocate it to a good area. Relocation is somewhat controversial, because sometimes relocated wildlife have trouble adapting to a new area, or they have to compete with current animals, which could cause stress for them all.

Finally, if as a last resort you must kill an animal, do it humanely. A CO2 chamber is painless, according to several studies and my observation. A bullet to the head, if you are licensed and responsible with a firearm can kill an animal quickly. Lethal injections are quick. Just don't leave the animal in the trap and drown it like a redneck. Why would you kill an animal? Perhaps it is sick or old, and relocating it would only cause more suffering. Or maybe there are other reasons I can't think of. The bottom line is that animals do feel pain, they do feel emotions, and it is my hope that they are treated with respect.

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