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Wildlife Control Guidelines

Wildlife enriches our lives in many ways, but sometimes it can cause property damage or become a nuisance. Fortunately, you can resolve the majority of these conflicts on your property. Browse this section for information on how to deter, exclude, or capture damage-causing wildlife.

Consult the Code before controlling wildlife

The Wildlife Code of Missouri’s provisions protect all the state’s wildlife. However, the Code provides for the taking of wildlife during prescribed hunting and trapping seasons, and also when wildlife is causing damage to property [3 CSR 10-4.130 Owner May Protect Property; Public Safety]. Read the rule in the Wildlife Code of Missouri booklet, which is available wherever permits are sold and on the Missouri Secretary of State website listed under External Links below.

If wildlife is damaging your property, you or your representative — such as a relative, friend, neighbor, or someone you hire — may shoot or trap most damage-causing wildlife out of season and without a permit to prevent further damage. Note: Wildlife you may not shoot or trap under this provision are migratory birds, white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, turkeys, black bears, mountain lions, and any endangered species. For conflicts with these species, contact your local county conservation agent or nearest Department office. Control action may be taken only on your property. Wildlife you take under this provision may not be used in any way, and you must report it to the Department within 24 hours, then dispose of it in accordance with Department instructions. Check with local city or county authorities regarding the use of traps and firearms in local jurisdictions.

Hunting and trapping in season can prevent wildlife problems

Allowing hunters and trappers to access your property during prescribed seasons can help resolve wildlife problems before they occur. Throughout the year, you can avoid problems by making sure attractants such as pet food, garbage, and animal feed are unavailable.

Trapping problem wildlife

The Department does not routinely provide cage-type traps. However, some local municipal animal-control agencies have traps to loan and may assist in setting and checking them. Also, local rental companies usually offer cage-type traps for rent. And in many areas, local businesses specialize in wildlife removal, so check your local Yellow Pages under “animal control,” “pest control,” or “wildlife removal," or conduct a Web search for these terms. In addition, you can purchase a cage-type trap at most hardware and garden-supply stores. If you’d like to try building a rabbit-sized wooden box trap, you can find plans listed under Related Information below.

Some situations are best resolved with a foothold or body-gripping trap. However, most people lack the special skill and experience needed to properly use these traps. If your situation calls for a foothold or body-gripping trap, call your local county conservation agent, who can likely provide the name of a local trapper who can assist you. And in some situations, your area’s Department wildlife-damage biologist can provide instruction, equipment, and assistance. Use the Public Contacts Directory listed under Related Information below to ask any Department office for a referral to your local wildlife-damage biologist.

Disposing of trapped problem wildlife humanely

Relocation not recommended

After you trap a damage-causing animal, you must dispose of it properly. Although relocation may seem like a good idea, we do not recommend it. Moving an animal can spread disease. Also, a strange animal coming into an established local population of the same species (a strange, disoriented squirrel coming into an established community of squirrels, for example) can upset the local group’s social order and possibly its health. Further, a relocated animal does not know where to find food or other resources and may likely starve to death. Finally, moving the animal might simply create a problem for someone else at the new location. You should also know that most federal, state, and local agencies prohibit the release of wildlife on lands they own or manage (including Department properties). For these reasons, we recommend killing the animal.

American Veterinary Medical Association euthanasia guidelines

The AVMA has established guidelines for the euthanasia of animals, both domestic and wild (see their website listed under External Links below). Because these techniques are intended for use by veterinary professionals in controlled settings, the AVMA acknowledges that euthanasia is not always feasible and that other methods must sometimes be used to dispatch wildlife. Local municipal animal control agencies have special equipment for euthanasia and may accept a captured animal for a small fee. Likewise, local businesses that specialize in wildlife removal can also help.

Gunshot or sharp blow recommended

The AVMA specifies that a properly-placed gunshot results in humane death. Check with local city or county authorities regarding the discharge of firearms. A sharp blow to the head is also effective but can be difficult to deliver.

Fumigants sometimes acceptable

The AVMA classifies fumigants such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide as acceptable under some conditions. Gas cartridges available at farm- and garden-supply stores produce carbon monoxide that accumulates in lethal amounts when confined, such as in a burrow or other chamber.

Drowning not humane, but practical

The AVMA does not classify drowning as a humane method, but sometimes it is the only practical option. Fur trappers have employed drowning sets for muskrat, otter, beaver, raccoon, and other species for hundreds of years. The cage trap containing the animal can be submerged in a pond or trashcan filled with water.

Bury or bag it

The animal carcass can be buried or placed in an out-of-the-way area where it will be recycled by nature. Or you can bag the carcass and deposit it for regular garbage pick-up. You may want to freeze the carcass before placing in trash.

Always be sensitive to the feelings of others when dispatching wildlife and disposing of remains.

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Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife.

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