When To Call Animal Control vs. Wildlife Removal
17 min read| Updated for March, 2019
Animal control and wildlife removal agencies serve similar, but distinct purposes in the public sphere. Animal control agencies are typically government-run departments that address issues related to domestic animals like cats and dogs. Wildlife removal agencies, as the name suggestions, are generally for-profit businesses that assist with removing wild animals that have become nuisances for homeowners.
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Wildlife removal agencies are generally for-profit businesses that assist with removing wild animals that have become nuisances for homeowners.
What Services Do Animal Control Agencies Provide?
Animal control agents play an important role in communities by ensuring that domestic animals and the people around them are safe. Here are a few services they perform.
Animal control agencies help to ensure that domestic animals like dogs, cats, and ferrets are vaccinated against rabies to help prevent the spread of disease.
While outbreaks are unusual in the United States, rabies is still a dangerous disease that requires active prevention. Animal control agencies help to ensure that domestic animals like dogs, cats, and ferrets are vaccinated against rabies to help prevent the spread of disease. They may do this by hosting low-cost vaccination clinics or by simply educating the public about prevention. Also, animal control agents are trained to evaluate sick animals for signs of rabies and take appropriate measure depending on their results.
Because they reproduce rapidly, dog and cat populations can grow almost exponentially if these animals are not spayed and neutered. Animal control agencies seek to help control the populations of these pets to reduce the number of unwanted animals and strays in the community. You may see your local animal control offering low-cost sterilization to pets to help combat this problem.
Animal control agencies often provide temporary homes for pets in the form of shelters. Usually, animal shelters offer veterinary clinics, grooming services, and meet-and-greet areas where potential pet adopters can get to know the residents. Typically these shelters dictate that all animals must be spayed or neutered before they’re taken home for adoption. While most non-profit animal shelters are non-kill, government-run shelters may euthanize animals that are not adopted.
Because rabies poses such a severe threat to pet populations—and the humans around them—animal control officers thoroughly investigate dog bite cases. They may perform tests and observe the dog’s behavior to rule out the possibility of rabies. If rabies is not present, the officer will evaluate whether the dog’s aggressive nature presents a threat to their environment.
Animal control officers help protect cats and dogs from abuse and neglect. They rely on tips from neighbors and passers-by to alert them to inhumane situations. Once they receive a tip, agents will evaluate the pet’s home environment and possibly press charges or remove the animal if there’s evidence of abuse.
Aggressive Dog Complaints
If you’ve encountered an extremely aggressive dog in your neighborhood, you may be able to ask animal control to look into the situation. Animal control agents will investigate to determine if the pet is a threat to people and animals in their neighborhood.
Unlike animal control, which is often a government-funded agency, wildlife removal companies tend to be for-profit businesses. Wildlife removal also focuses primarily on issues caused by non-domestic animals like raccoons, bats, snacks, etc., coming into conflict with humans. These professionals are often skilled at problem-solving and dealing with a wide variety of wild animals. Here are some examples of services that a wildlife removal company might provide.
Left behind droppings is especially true of certain species like bats and birds whose waste may spread disease.
Hearing a scratching in the wall or attic of your home can be unnerving. Wildlife removal specialists can evaluate if you are truly facing a wildlife infestation and then develop a plan to help remove the animals. Many of these businesses offer free estimates before they perform the removal.
Once they’ve identified the problem, wildlife removal agents will remove the unwanted animals by trapping and relocating them. They can remove a wide variety of animals, from nuisance birds to snakes to skunks.
Clean-Up and Repairs
If the wildlife spent any time living in your home, there’s a good chance they left behind urine and feces that will need to be cleaned up. Left behind droppings is especially true of certain species like bats and birds whose waste may spread disease. Wildlife experts will sanitize and deodorize the affected area after removing the waste.
Dead Animal Removal
When facing a wildlife infestation, many homeowners may be tempted to poison the unwanted critters. Unfortunately, killing the animals doesn’t completely solve the problem, as having dead animals in your house can lead to foul odors and bacteria. If you’ve killed a pest in your home—or suspect that one died on its own—you may want to call wildlife removal. They can remove dead animals from difficult-to-reach areas like attics and crawl spaces.
One of the most critical steps in addressing a wildlife infestation is identifying how the animal or animals gained access to your home. Wildlife removal agents will inspect your home for signs of entry and make sure that they’re sealed so that animals don’t invade again.
Wildlife removal agencies must work in concert with state and federal agencies that protect wildlife. Because of laws protecting endangered or threatened animals, wildlife removal agents will usually relocate the animals rather than eliminating them. They may rehome them in forested areas away from human development or even release them to wildlife rehabilitation homes.
What About Bigger Animals?
It’s become increasingly common to spot larger wildlife like coyotes, bears, foxes, and deer in urban environments. If you do encounter one of these animals wandering around your neighborhood, most experts advise that you avoid the animal. Most of these species are frightened of humans and will not approach you. However, if one of these animals does appear to be a threat to humans or pets, or if it seems to be injured, it’s best to report the situation to animal control.
While neither vocation requires a college degree, both demand a large amount of on-the-job training.
What’s the Difference Between Animal Control and Wildlife Removal Agents?
Animal control agents and wildlife removal agents share a very similar skill set. Most have a background in veterinary services, law enforcement, farming, or a related field. While neither vocation requires a college degree, both demand a large amount of on-the-job training. Animal control agents may also complete a certification. More importantly, both jobs require familiarity with animals and wildlife, an ability to meet physical demands, and excellent problem solving and people skills.
When to Call Animal Control
- You’ve spotted a stray dog that’s acting strangely and foaming at the mouth in your neighborhood
- You or someone you know has sustained a dog bite injury
- You’ve noticed a dog or cat that appears to be abused or neglected by its owners
- You’ve discovered a litter of stray puppies or kittens
- You’re looking for low-cost rabies vaccinations
- You want to adopt a new pet
- You want to have your current pet spayed or neutered at a low cost
When to Call Wildlife Removal
- You’ve heard scratching or other movements that suggest you may have an animal infestation somewhere in your home
- You’ve identified a rodent problem
- You’ve noticed a foul odor in a specific part of your house
- You’ve noticed large mounds of dirt or bald spots in your yard that may be caused by moles
- You’ve seen a skunk entering or exiting your crawl space
If you’re experiencing an infestation of ants, termites, bees, rats, or mice, calling a pest control business is your best bet.
What’s the Difference Between Pest Control and Wildlife Removal?
Pest control agencies and wildlife agencies perform similar duties, and there’s even some overlap between their services. They’re also both for-profit industries that require customers to pay for the removal of the unwanted species on their property.
Pest control, though, typically eliminates insects or smaller animals like rodents. If you’re experiencing an infestation of ants, termites, bees, rats, or mice, calling a pest control business is your best bet. You might also call a pest control agent to manage an abundance of mosquitoes in your backyard. If, on the other hand, you’re facing larger mammals like skunks, possums, squirrels, bats, and raccoons, contact a wildlife removal specialist for assistance.
In many situations, it’s worth paying a professional animal control or wildlife removal officer to handle the problem for you.
Is It Ever Safe to DIY An Animal Problem?
Treating an unwanted animal problem can be expensive, so homeowners may be tempted to apply do-it-yourself solutions if they run into an issue. However, most professionals advise against this approach unless the issue is minor. Here are a few examples of problems you may fix yourself.
- Moving cat or dog food indoors to stop drawing raccoons into your garage or carport
- Fastening your trash bins closed with bungee cords to prevent animals from accessing food waste
- Sealing gaps or holes to prevent animals from entering your basement (as long as there’s no existing infestation)
In many situations, it’s worth paying a professional animal control or wildlife removal officer to handle the problem for you. Their knowledge and experience help keep you and your family safe in tricky situations. Here are a few scenarios that require expert attention.
- An animal is acting strangely or foaming at the mouth
- Squirrels or raccoons have made a home in your attic
- A venomous snake has appeared in your home or yard
Though similar in nature, wildlife removal agencies and animal control departments have slightly different focuses. Animal control agents typically help protect and regulate domestic animals like cats and dogs. Wildlife removal agents typically work with non-domesticated animals that have invaded a home or other type of building. Both agencies use their advanced skills and knowledge to help keep both animals and the people around them safe.