General Principles for Wildlife Damage Management
Wildlife Damage Management (WDM) is the process of dealing with vertebrate species (those with a backbone, such as birds, snakes, mammals, etc.) that:
- cause damage to food, fiber, personal property, and natural resources;
- threaten human health and safety through disease, collisions, and attacks; and
- cause a nuisance.
Goals of WDM
- Reduce damage to a tolerable level.
- Use methods that are cost-effective.
- Use methods that are safe for people and the environment.
Goal 1: Reduce damage to a tolerable level.
The focus is to eliminate or reduce damage to a level that can be tolerated, not to eliminate all wildlife. Target the species causing the problem.
Goal 2. Use methods that are cost-effective.
The solution should not be more expensive than the problem it is meant to solve. Granted, some solutions are expensive and should be considered for cost over its life-span rather than its initial cost. For example, you will have different costs and expectations for a fence that will last 20 years compared to a repellent that will have to be reapplied after every rainfall and when new plant growth is present.
Goal 3. Methods should be safe for people and the environment.
Usually more than one option is available to solve a human-wildlife conflict. Select those that are safest for people and the environment.
Integrated Pest Management
The term Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is sometimes used interchangeably with Integrated Wildlife Damage Management (IWDM). Both use the same concepts, although IWDM focuses on vertebrates; some prefer IWDM because they don’t like to consider wildlife as pests.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses all appropriate pest control strategies to reduce pest populations to an acceptable level. When using an IPM framework, you:
- identify the problem;
- consider a variety of solutions;
- implement the least harmful, most cost-effective strategies;
- monitor the problem to ensure that it has been solved; and
- evaluate the effectiveness of the solution you used.
If a customer requests something beyond what you believe is legal, reasonable, ethical, or safe, you should suggest more reasonable alternatives or consider declining the job.
All organisms, including wildlife, require three things to survive and growth individually and as a population:
These three items form an animal’s habitat. Remove an animal’s access to any one of these elements and it will not survive.
IPM considers the animal’s life-cycle, its needs, and the needs of the person suffering damage to create the most cost-effective plan to control the damage. In addition, people using IPM recognize that 100% control of damage often is not practical. However, reducing the availability of food, water, and shelter goes a long way in reducing the need for direct animal removal through trapping, shooting, etc.
By taking into consideration environmental impacts and customer needs, IPM helps one find the best plan of action that balances all available requirements.
Sometimes damage can be reduced or prevented through:
- Habitat modification, such as capping a chimney.
- Timing of activities, such as when crops are planted.
- Direct removal, such as trapping the offending animal.
No one method will be the best solution in every situation. Often, the best solution is to use a number of techniques to achieve the desired results. The key is to recognize that to successfully manage wildlife damage, you must understand the animal, its behavior, its habitat needs, and management options.
Beasts Be-Gone – Cornell University IPM
Fruit Tree Pests (rabbits, mice, birds, etc.) Handbook – University of Kentucky
Land Owner’s Guide to North American Predators – (PDF) Utah State University-Berryman Inst.