Steven Vantassel wanted to talk today a little about understanding nuisance wildlife control laws. This is probably one of the bigger issues for pest controllers
Governed Vertebrate Wildlife Laws
But I just want to talk today about vertebrate wildlife. So understanding that wildlife is governed has basically falls into two main categories in terms of classifications and those two umbrella categories are what we call protected species. An unprotected species. So let’s talk about protected species first. What protected species means is that there are legal protection. Or legal restrictions or legal governance managing what we can do and not do with certain vertebrate species. Perhaps the easiest one to talk about is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Now this is an international treaty that’s been around since the early 20th century I think it was 1911 somewhere around there that America made with Canada and Mexico. Today we’ve added in I believe Russia is a signatory I believe. Japan’s a signatory. But the point is that these are birds that cross international boundaries when they’re migrating in so the countries got together and did a really smart thing actually they said look when we’re we don’t want to be you know blasting each other’s species
We want to protect these animals that cross our international boundaries so that we manage them appropriately so that they don’t go extinct that we can continue continue to harvest them and they have rules governing their control. The point is is those animals those birds are protected even if you’re allowed to shoot them. There are restrictions about when and where and how you can do that. So that’s what’s called a protected species so when we talk about a protected species it doesn’t mean you can never kill it. Or ever harass it or something like that. It means excuse me. It means that there are certain rules governing what you can do that animal either restricts when you can kill it how you can kill it how many you can kill
There’s rules somewhere. And so the Migratory Bird Treaty Act is a federal legislation federal treaty international that trumps any of your state rules. In other words we’re the federal system here in America and that’s basically I’m assuming our audience I think things are similar in Canada don’t know enough about Mexico but when we look at these laws we have to understand that we’re dealing with that whatever the federal government restricts states and local areas can’t make less restrictive states in local areas can make that more can add more rules but it can never make fewer rules regard that that loosen up the federal guidelines. So think of it like if the federal government creates boundaries your state law can only make boundaries as restrictive as the federal or more restrictive it can never make those boundaries less restrictive. The same way with the local government local government can never make laws or regulations that are less restrictive than the state government or the federal government because it just doesn’t work that way. So it’s always a top down. You can always make things harder. You can never make things looser. The farther down the government ladder you go. So birds most of your birds are protected species. Why. Because of that Migratory Bird Treaty Act now on the flip side we have unprotected species. So let’s stay on the bird thing just to kind of make things a little bit simpler. There are unprotected birds and those birds are. How sparrows. European starling pigeon also known as rock dove. Your Eurasian collared dove. Those four species and I believe there is one more depending what what state you’re in sort of like some of your Moscow v ducks for instance are considered non-native species in certain parts of the country. You have to check your local area because they were native in certain parts of the country or at least are treated that way. So those four species are going to leave Moscow he ducks off table so those four species are not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Why? Well because they are not native species to North America. That is the pigeon the European starling the Eurasian collared dove and the house sparrow.
All four of those species are not native to the United States or Canada or Mexico. So you don’t just throw it out there so if we say it when Columbus came to America. Or to the Caribbean where these birds around and the answer is no they were actually introduced at a later date. So they were not native to North America so therefore they lie outside of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So there are no federal restrictions on the killing or taking of those birds. Now just because there’s no federal rules. Doesn’t mean that your state. I’m not aware of any state that does restrict those the control of those four birds. But I do believe there are some local communities such as New York City that do restrict certain ways of managing those bird species. And so that is why you have to check in some of those more progressive liberal areas
Where they don’t understand nature as well as other parts of the country where they may have additional rules governing restricting the control of those particular species. That’s why you have to kind of know your local area. But on the federal level you can blast him all day long. And I’m not aware of any state that has additional rules on those birds. But there are some I am aware of some local areas that will have some survive. No you’re.
You have protected wildlife species unprotected species.
So let’s flip now over to some other animals just to kind of unpack this a little bit more on the protected species side. So again just to reiterate protected species means that there are rules governing the taking of that particular species of animal but you may say well I’m you know I’m blasting squirrels or a blast you know I’m able to go hunting every year and take deer. Yes those are protected because you can’t do it year round under certain hunting license. So let’s let’s break down what some of those protected species. Here’s some words here that you might know when you’re reading the law. Some we have categories of protected species one of them is what’s called a fur bear. Now here’s where it gets confusing because all mammals have fur. So but that’s not what they mean when you read something in your your game laws for your your state when they use the word fur bear. They’re referring to a classification of animals that are traditionally harvested for their pelts so deer for instance deer are mammals and they have fur but people have not traditionally trapped them for their fur mink.
That’s a different story. Mink had been harvested for their fur a very farming fur. So fur bears are often governed by fur bear rules. Now fur bears are often animals that can be trapped and in some cases trapped and hunted. So trapping of course that should be pretty sure that’s the setting of a device that captures an animal whether by an extremity a limb or whether it envelops the animal like in a cage trap or box trap. So you have restraint traps and you have some kill traps.
You also have development traps which is a type of restraining trap. You also have limb traps which you know like a foothold which grabs the animal by a limb or a snare. Those are two typical tools to capture fur bears.
The next category of protected animals are known as game animals. These are animals that are traditionally hunted deer elk Kai out for instance can be a it could be a game animal as well as a fur bear because it’s harvested for its fur depending where you live. Other game animals would be some of your upland birds would be some of your game animals as well. Like pheasants grouse. Some of those types of animals so you have game animals and waterfowl can often be under this. So there you have animals that are. There protected because there are certain rules governing when you can hunt them. They have hunting seasons as well as they have rules governing how you can take them. There may be restrictions on the type of firearms you can use the type of ammunition that you’re allowed to use. They may have other restrictions so there are protections there. Even though you’re allowed to kill them there are rules governing how you can protect them and then you have protected species which would be non game animals and these are all the animals that are they’re protected in the sense that you’re not allowed to kill them. Because there’s no hunting season there’s no trapping season and you would need a permit from the state to to take that particular animal if it was off migratory bird you would need to have a federal permit to get the migratory to to take them and you may need a state permit to take some of those animals we’ll say woodpeckers for instance woodpeckers are not hunted.
They’re not trapped. But there are situations where woodpeckers are causing damage and so you can apply to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get a depredation permit and some states will say once you have that you’re allowed to go take that woodpecker. Otherwise some states will say no you have to have an additional permit from the state to take that woodpecker is in addition to. The Federal permit so it can get a little complicated here. Now why am I going through all this type of work so I’m not done yet. There’s still more categories to go we haven’t talked about the categories in the unprotected species yet but I just want to take a sidebar to kind of give you a rationale. For why is this important. Because what I want what I’ve seen or heard of is that sometimes people who are PCOS think that they’re they have a let’s say a vertebrate category or a vertebrate classification on their pesticide license. And they think that that gives them the right to control wild life as long as that animals on the label. And that’s often a misunderstanding of what the label means in that situation.
Let me give you an illustration from Massachusetts Wildlife Law
In Massachusetts you have a mote like both states. You have two agencies. One is the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Department. And then of course you have the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture the Department of Agriculture governs the use of pesticides within the state of Massachusetts the Department of Fish Wildlife Fish and Wildlife they govern the management of wildlife in the state. So just because you have a license from the Department of Agriculture let’s say it’s a vertebrate pest category and you pick up this. Gas cartridge an indictable gas cartridge that says in the label you’re allowed to use this on wood chucks doesn’t mean you have the right to control Woodchuck because wood chucks are not regulated by the Department of Agriculture they’re regulated by the Department of Fish Fish and Wildlife which means you have to get another license. So what’s confusing for people’s they don’t understand is that the license from the Department of Agriculture only allows them the right to use that tool namely that pesticide. It doesn’t allow them carte blanche to control that animal that has to be decided by the Department of Fish wildlife Fish and Game.
And so this is what’s confusing with people. And so what happened was because Fish Fish and Wildlife understood that a lot of pest control operators were you thinking that their license gave them permission to control these vertebrates that they had to put a notice out and say No no if you’re going to be controlling these vertebrates outside of season under the people’s ground you are going to need to have a license from the Game Fish and Game Department in addition to the Department of Ag so the Fish and Game and Fish Department would have allowed you to trap that animal.
But if you wanted to use pesticide that is when you would need the license from the Department of Agriculture. So the Department of Agriculture doesn’t give you permission to control that particular animal.
It gives you permission to use a specific type of tool to control that animal namely pesticides. And so this is why it’s confusing for peoples a read the label. They say well the label is a law label is the law. Yes the label is the law but the label doesn’t necessarily contain the complete law.
So yes that ignited gas cartridge is registered and licensed to use on wood chucks but that doesn’t mean you have the authority to use it on wood chucks just because the label says it’s labeled for wood checks. You still have to have that license from your Department of Ag which gives you the right to use pesticides other people’s land but you may also need a license from fish from your fish while at theme parks or fish and game whatever your wildlife agency in your state is to do to control that particular animal because they govern the management of wildlife in that state. Now again your state may be different but if it’s different. Let me explain to you partly why it may be different. This is where we get into the area of the unprotected species. So let’s recap protect a species are those animals. That have some sort of regulation governing when and where and how you can kill that animal.
Unprotected species are animals that have no legal protections whatsoever.
And here’s where people get confused because house mice and Norway rats are un protected species. Why are they unprotected. Because they’re not native to North America. They’re not considered wildlife in the legal sense of the term. They may be wildlife in the biological or the scientific sense but they’re not wildlife in the legal whom we’re dealing with legal categories here not scientific categories. So mice and rats are not managed by Fish Wildlife and Parks of your state because they’re not considered native species that are in need of management in your particular state. They’re considered invasive species so they are. They do not have for the most part legal protections anywhere in the US. So therefore when you see your pesticide the pesticide says you’re you can use this toxic bait to kill mice and rats you don’t need a license from your fish wildlife and parks agency because fish wildlife and parks doesn’t manage that species. They don’t have legal authority over that. Those those two animals.So therefore the license from the Department of Ag to use pesticides would be all you need so what are some of the categories for unprotected species.
Well again depending where you live you may have a category known as Predators and predators. And like in our area in map Montana for instance predators animals classified legally. Remember this is not a biological definition. This is a legal definition. Predators are considered animals that are not protected. Why. Because they can. They are considered to be a threat to the livestock industry in Montana. Historically speaking no laws always express the values of the time that they were an act.
OK so in Montana coyotes skunks and weasels are considered predators and as predators they are classified as unprotected species so they can be killed without any license whatsoever you can kill them with shooting you can trap them if your pesticide label allows you to poison them then you can do that providing you following the poisoning rules.
But there are no rules given they are basically big rats and mice is what they are treated as legally speaking. Ok then you also have the unprotected birds which I’ve already talked about. And then you have all other non game wildlife that again have no legal protections.
And this is where you have to contact your state because different states will have different non game wildlife that are also considered unprotected. Now you may have heard that phrase nine game wildlife that I’ve mentioned in the protected species area but some states will have a non game wildlife that are unprotected.
So you have to exclude tease that out for example at my state of Montana badgers bats ground squirrels such as prairie dogs and Richardson ground squirrel Columbia ground squirrel rabbits raccoons red fox those animals do not have legal protections within the state of Montana. Now that can change.
But right now there are no legal protections for those particular areas. So if you’re igniting a gas cartridge says you can use this on a red fox then you don’t need to get permission from Fish Wildlife and Parks in our state to go kill that fox because fox red fox are considered non non game animals that are not protected. So you I hope at least you understand if you’re a little confused you understand that it’s not all in your head. It is a little confusing but you have to be sure you understand that your department vag your pesticide license only gives you the authority to use pesticides.
It doesn’t necessarily give you the right to use those pesticides on wildlife.
You have to check to see if your state because most wildlife managed the state level we talked about birds birds migratory birds are controlled at the federal level. There may be additional rules and Stella but the vast majority of animals are managed at the state level. So you even though you have your pesticide license doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right to control wildlife in your state unless it’s an animal that your fish Wiley from parks or game agency has said we are not managing that so therefore we’re not declaring legal authority over that animal or you don’t have to come to us for a license. So bottom line you need to be sure you contact your state agency your state wildlife agency and find out.
Typically only the fur bear biologists who will have the most knowledge about this most people you know don’t just go to your game warden clone sometimes your game warden isn’t going to be completely up to speed on this. You probably need to go to the gate to fish and want your your fur bear biologist in the game you’re your game department in your state agency another place you can try to reach out to the National Wildlife Control Operators Association and find a member within your state who you can talk to about the rules in your particular state because they often will know them inside and out if they’ve been in business for any length of time but you have to find out because the pesticide license allows you to handle pesticides.
It doesn’t necessarily allow you to use those pesticides on wildlife unless the state fish wildlife from Parks Agency says that those animals are not protected or they give you a license to use to have access to those animals. I hope that kind of cleared some things up for you because it’s it is complicated but there is a way through it if you just do the time and make sure you have these these terms is the animal protected is the animal unprotected.
Those are the two big categories you have to work with. I hope that has helped and I’ve giving you some strategies to move forward so that you make sure. That you’re legal because that is the minimum requirement for being a good PR CEO or a wildlife control operator.