Glossary of Wildlife Damage Management Terms and Acronyms

Glossary of Wildlife Damage Management Terms



ACO An acronym for Animal Control Officer. This is a typical title for individuals employed by government agencies to handle stray dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. However, in some communities, ACOs handle wildlife complaints as well.
Anticoagulant A pesticide that kills animals by disrupting the ability of its blood to clot. Most toxicants used to kill rodents (mice/rats) are rodenticides. Anticoagulants are classified as first (older) or second (younger) generation.

Biological Carrying Capacity

A scientific term to describe the point at which animals reach numbers sufficient to damage the habitat upon which they rely to survive. See Social Carrying Capacity.
Body-Gripping Trap A type of trap designed to kill the animal by collapsing the animal’s throat/thorax. Traps of this type include  Koro, Conibear, etc.
Box Trap Frequently mislabeled as a “live trap,” the box trap is similar in design to a cage trap, but the walls are solid.
Cage Trap Frequently mislabeled as a “live trap,” the cage trap uses mesh (not solid walls) to imprison an animal.
Chimney Cap A device designed to keep rain and animals out of a chimney. Click for Chimney Cap Photo.

Colony Trap

A device designed to capture more than one animal at a time. Colony traps are used to capture muskrats, bats, and flying squirrels. Colony traps used for mice are typically called “multi-catch traps.”
Coon Slang term used by wildlife control operators that refers to a raccoon.
CWCP® Acronym for Certified Wildlife Control Professional (or Operator). The certification is granted by the National Wildlife Control Operators Association. Details on the requirements can be found at their site
Egg™ Trap Species specific trap, or better described as an encapsulated foot trap,  designed to capture a raccoon.
Encapsulated-foot Trap A type of limb-restraining device that requires the animal to reach into a tube and push or pull a lever. These traps are used mainly for capturing raccoons, and are commonly and mistakenly called species-specific traps or dog-proof traps. While these traps do reduce the likelihood of catching non-targets and dogs, trappers are not guaranteed of these results.
Euthanasia Literally means “Good Death.” Euthanasia is a term used to describe methods of killing animals that are deemed to cause the least amount of pain and distress. Typically, approved methods include carbon dioxide narcosis, lethal injection, and others. Learn more at Euthanasia.
  • Activities and products used to prevent an animal from gaining access to or causing damage to areas and items deemed valuable by humans. For example, installing a stainless steel chimney cap on a chimney prevents raccoons from residing inside.
  • Activities taken by an animal controller to evict a resident animal from a location. An example is to install a one-way door over a squirrel hole to allow the squirrel to leave  but not re-enter the hole.

First Generation Anticoagulant

First generation anticoagulants require the rodent to feed on the toxic bait multiple times before receiving enough of the active ingredient to kill it. See Second Generation Anticoagulant
Foothold Term used by professionals to correct the more popular term for the trap “leghold.” Foothold trap is a better term as it more accurately reflects where the trap should catch the animal. An animal’s foot is more padded and provides a better, more humane catching point than the leg.
Frightening Device A technique or piece of equipment that uses  the animal’s fear to cause it to leave. Frightening methods are categorized by their mode of action such as audible (sound), visual, audio-visual, and biological.
GUP Acronym for General Use Pesticides. A GUP may be purchased over-the-counter without needing a license.
Grinner Slang for opossum. The term most likely originated from the observation that an opossum often has its mouth open, showing off its 50 sharp teeth.
Invasive Species A term to identify animals that exist in an area that was not part of their historic range, and that their activity and presence causes negative environmental impact. For example, the Burmese python  is an invasive species in the Florida everglades that is threatening native species.
LD50 Lethal Dose 50%. It is the amount of poison needed to kill 1/2 of the study population. Typically, LD50 is given in milligrams per kilogram. A toxicant with an LD50 of  1 (1 gram of toxicant per kilogram of body weight will kill 50% of the study population) is more dangerous than a toxicant with an LD50 of 30 (30 grams of toxicant per kilogram of body weight). Less toxicant is needed to kill the target animals.
Live Trap
  • Term often used to a describe cage or box that captures the animal without grasping any part of its body and without killing it. Unfortunately, this term makes people think that any other types of traps must be kill traps. This isn’t the case. Footholds, snares, and other devices can also (and usually do) capture animals without killing them.
  • Term used to describe traps used to capture wildlife without killing or harming them, such as footholds, cable-restraints, box and cage traps.
Multi-catch Trap See “Colony Trap.”
PAC An acronym for Problem Animal Controller. PAC (pronounced Pack) is the acronym used to describe a wildlife control professional in the state of Massachusetts. It is a synonym for NWCO and WCO.
PCO An acronym for Pest Control Operator. While wildlife control operators can be considered pest controllers,  PCO is normally used to designate those involved in the management of insects and vermin such as mice and rats. Typically, PCOs don’t handle wildlife like raccoons, skunks, moles, etc.
Physical Control A term usually used by Pest Controllers to refer to techniques for resolving pest problems without the use of toxicants or fumigants. Physical control methods can include, but are not limited to, vacuuming, trapping, etc.
Positive Set The trapper places a trap over the hole so that only the animal coming out of the hole will enter the trap.
‘Possum Slang for opossum.
Primary Hazard The relative risk to the first animal that might encounter the pesticide.


When an animal is moved from where it was captured to another nearby location, within the immediate vicinity. For example, moving a squirrel from a person’s basement and releasing it in the backyard is relocation. It differs from translocation. See Translocation.
Repellent A chemical, audible, or visual device intended to keep wildlife away from a certain area or material. Repellents rely on one of the following modes of action: fear, pain, or tactile response.
Ridge Vent A vent at the peak of a roof that allows hot air to escape. It is covered by some type of cap or small roof to prevent rain from entering the attic. Click for a photo of a ridge vent.
RUP Acronym for Restricted Use Pesticide. The purchase and use of an RUP requires one to be licensed by the government’s pesticide licensing board. A pesticide is designated an RUP because it poses a greater risk to people or the environment than a GUP (General Use Pesticide).

Second Generation Anticoagulant

As the name suggests, these anticoagulants were invented after the first generation anticoagulants. They are capable of killing a rodent in a single feeding. Concerns about the risk of secondary poisoning due to second generation anticoagulants has increased.
Secondary Poisoning Mortality that results from an animal’s consumption of another animal that has died due to a pesticide. For example, a number of house mice die from eating a mouse poison. A scavenger eats the carcasses of the poisoned mice, and dies from the toxicant still in the carcasses of the poisoned mice.

Social Carrying Capacity

Social carrying capacity refers to the number of animals or animal damage levels people will tolerate in a given area. Typically, an area will support more animals (See Biological Carrying Capacity) than people will tolerate.
Species-specific Traps Typically, these are restraining traps designed to reduce the likelihood of capturing a non-target animal. Examples include, but are not limited to, Collarum® trap, Coon Cuff, Lil’ Grizz, Coon Dagger, and others.
Suitcase Trap Term used to describe a cage-style beaver trap that captures a beaver by enveloping it in a cage that closes like a suitcase. Brands of suitcase-style beaver traps include, Hancock, Bailey, and Easy Set.


An animal is moved and released a great distance from where it was captured, such as a squirrel caught on your property, then transported 20 miles away and released. Translocated animals often suffer from disorientation and may die due to the inability to find food, water, and shelter quickly enough.
WCO An acronym that stands for Wildlife Control Operator, and a synonym to NWCO (Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator). Some professionals prefer to be called a WCO rather than NWCO as they don’t like to call wildlife a nuisance.
Zoonosis Diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Click for more information on zoonoses.