Rules About Trapping Nuisance Wild Animals

If you have a wild animal problem, either an infestation in your house or a pest in your yard, you may have considered trapping as a method of eradication. However, you may or may not be aware that there are rules and regulations that apply to the trapping or catching of any wildlife, even pest animals known as nuisance wildlife. Most wildlife is protected by law and so it is important you know what rules and regulations are in place before you capture or trap a wild animal.

What are some of those rules and how can you trap pest animals in accordance with them? When should you call your local animal control or a pest control service?

State Laws and Regulations

The laws and regulations regarding trapping and catching wildlife vary greatly from state to state. Every state has different rules regarding the various animal species, necessary permits, trapping methods, and humane euthanizing and disposal.

Some states don’t require you to have a permit to catch pests on your own property but do require a permit or permission to release it anywhere else, even on city-owned land. Some states have laws that prohibit you from keeping a trapped animal for longer than 24 hours, and also require you to check your traps at least every 24 hours to reduce the likelihood of harm coming to a trapped animal. Most states prohibit the trapping of nursing females as it would result in the death of all the babies.

In the state of Washington, for example, trapping should always be seen as a last resort. You should try other kinds of repulsion or eradication first, giving the animal a chance to relocate on its own. You are not allowed to transport a trapped animal (with the exception of starlings and sparrows) anywhere off your property without a license.

Four Steps to Removing A Nuisance Wild Animal

In the case that you do have an issue and need to trap an animal, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you proceed legally and humanely.

Local Regulations

First, call your local wildlife office to find out what the laws regarding the species are. You will need to find out if you need a permit, if and where you can take your trapped animal, what the options for euthanizing are, and any other laws or regulations regarding local trapping.

Make a Plan

Once you find out what the local regulations are, you will have a better idea of how to proceed. It may be that you have to call a professional exterminator or your local animal control or procure some kind of licensure or permission.


If you have the resources to legally and humanely trap the animal yourself, you should then prepare the trap. Make sure your trap is clean and functions properly. Set it up securely and take into account the conditions the trapped animal might be in. Cover the trap if it might rain or if it is cold, and try to avoid setting up the trap in direct sunlight if it is warm. Follow any instructions regarding bait.

Release or Surrender

Once the animal is caught you will need to dispose of it. There are generally three options when it comes to disposing of nuisance animals: release, transport, or euthanize.

  • This refers to the release of an animal back out into its environment and is generally used for indoor pest problems. Provided the animal is released back onto our property you shouldn’t need a permit to trap it. However, if you don’t follow up the release by also blocking up any entrance point back into your house, the animal might just return.
  • As was noted earlier, this can be a bit trickier and you will want to make sure you know how to go about transporting an animal. Animals often don’t do well if they are transported incorrectly due to the stress of being trapped and relocated and a strange environment with the probable issue with other territorial animals. For this reason, it is best to call a professional wildlife removal service. This decreases the chance of the pest returning and increases the animal’s survival rate.
  • A humane death is sometimes the necessary route when it comes to some nuisance wildlife. You will want to check with your local wildlife office to find out what the acceptable methods are, however, and where you can take the animal to have it done correctly and kindly.

Different Species

The choice of how to appropriately dispose of a pest animal will vary greatly depending on the species. Some species like squirrels, mice, foxes, and coyotes can be relatively straightforward. Species like porcupines, jackrabbits, and wildcats require special traps and can be a bit more complicated. Some species are better to leave to the professionals altogether. Beavers require the use of a very tricky kind of trap. Badgers are aggressive and strong and can be dangerous to trap if you don’t know what you’re doing. And if you ever suspect an animal has rabies you should immediately call a professional to handle the job.

Who to Call for Help with a Pest Problem

So who do you call if you have an issue and you don’t want to or can’t trap the animal yourself? The quick answer is that in general, if the pest is in a house or building, you can call on a professional rodent control and prevention company to take care of it. These pests include raccoons, rats, and squirrels. However if your nuisance wild animal is a larger animal causing issues on your property but not your house, animals such as a bobcat, otter, beaver, or fox, you should call a local wildlife control company that is licensed to trap and remove those animals.

Final Thoughts

If you have a pest problem, in your house or on your property, there are serval ways you can eradicate the issue humanly and legally. Be sure to follow your state’s laws and regulations regarding a species’ capture and removal, and don’t hesitate to call a professional and reputable pest control service to help you out. They are trained to trap animals humanely and are licensed to remove and relocate them so that they don’t come back.

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