Tag Archives: birds

Dealing With Wildlife and the Laws That Protect Them

When we think about pests affecting schools, animals such as cockroaches and mice typically come to mind. But what if larger critters such as Canada geese, squirrels, bats, woodchucks, or pigeons become troublesome? IPM works for them too. You must, however, be aware of laws that apply to nuisance wildlife and how they might affect your IPM plan.

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but there are still things you can do to manage them. Harassing them (such as with dogs or lasers) does not need a permit. Interfering with their nest — such as addling their eggs — does need a permit. When in doubt, contact the DEC. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but there are still things you can do to manage them. Harassing them (such as with dogs or lasers) does not need a permit. Interfering with their nest — such as addling their eggs — does need a permit. When in doubt, contact the DEC.

In New York, the regulatory players involved are the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (all species) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (migratory birds and federally endangered and threatened species). Through these agencies, every wildlife species in the state has a legal classification. What is of utmost concern is determining whether your nuisance is classified as “unprotected” or “protected.”

Legal Classification: Unprotected

Unprotected mammals include shrews, moles, bats (except Indiana bats, which are federally protected), chipmunks, woodchucks, red squirrels, flying squirrels, voles, mice, and Norway rats. Unprotected bird species include rock doves (feral pigeons), house sparrows, and European starlings.

pigeons MF

Rock doves have no legal protections, but other laws, such as pesticide regulations, firearm discharge ordinances, and trespassing laws, must be followed.

An unprotected species can legally be taken by the property owner at any time of year and by any means as long as other laws (i.e., pesticide regulations, firearm discharge ordinances, trespassing laws, etc.) are not violated. The DEC defines taking as pursuing, shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, trapping, snaring or netting wildlife and game, or performing acts that disturb or worry wildlife.

Some might consider it too cruel to take an animal and decide that capturing your nuisance pest with a live trap is best. Before heading to the hardware store, recognize that you cannot release an animal off your property without a permit. An unprotected animal can be released on the same property where it was captured or must be killed and buried or cremated.

Legal Classification: Protected

For some protected species, if an individual animal is causing damage (not merely being a nuisance), it can be taken by the property owner. Mammals that fall under this category include opossums, raccoons, weasels, and gray squirrels. (Skunks may legally be taken if they are only a nuisance, even if they are not causing damage.) But the animal, dead or alive, cannot be transported off the landowner’s property without a nuisance wildlife control permit obtained from the DEC.

Identification matters. Grey squirrels are protected, while red squirrels are unprotected.

Identification matters. Grey squirrels are protected, while red squirrels are unprotected.

A few mammals (including bear, beaver, deer, mink, and muskrat), most birds, and (currently) all reptiles and amphibians are not only protected but cannot be captured or removed from the property without special case-by-case permits.

Animals with a legal hunting or fur trapping season can be taken as long as the proper hunting or trapping license has been obtained.

Nuisance Wildlife Control Permits

Nuisance wildlife control permits are issued to people who have gone through the prescribed application process. These permits allow protected species to be taken in any number, at any time, and from any location — with permission of the landowner — within the state. Permits must be renewed annually. Private nuisance wildlife control operators, pest control operators dealing with nuisance wildlife, municipal animal control officers, and some wildlife rehabilitators must obtain the proper permits.

Laws change, so if you have a question concerning the legal status of a species or contemplated action, contact the Wildlife section of the regional office of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

For information on IPM for nuisance wildlife, refer to Beasts Begone!: A Practitioner’s Guide to IPM in Buildings  and Best Practices for Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators.

(Adapted from Legal Framework for Nuisance Wildlife Control in New York State by Lynn Braband, NYS Community IPM Program at Cornell University)

Survey Provides Insights into IPM within NYS Schools

A 2013 survey of the pest management policies and practices of New York State public schools was recently published on-line http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/school_survey/school_survey2013.pdf A partnership of the NYS IPM Program, the NYS Department of Health, the NYS Education Department, and the NYS School Facilities Association, the goals of the survey were to evaluate the status of IPM in public elementary and secondary schools, provide guidance on assisting schools in improving pest management, gauge changes since a 2001 survey, and ascertain the impacts of the state’s Neighbor Notification Law and the Child Safe Playing Field Act.

Highlights include a large increase in the number of school districts with written pest management policies, a low rate of issues associated with pesticide applications, and reductions in pesticide use. Prominent needs that exist concerning pest management in schools include the pervasive issue of food in classrooms and other non-cafeteria locations and the challenges associated with maintaining quality athletic fields in light of the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. The implications of the drop in certified pesticide applicators employed by schools needs to be assessed. Also, geese are increasing as a troublesome pest on school grounds

geeseCanada goose
Branta canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Photo by Paul Bolstad, University of Minnesota

Approximately 73% of the districts responding to the 2013 survey indicated that they had a written pest management policy, up from 45% in 2001. Official written policies provide a consistent framework for implementing safe and effective pest management. However, most school districts did not have a policy concerning food outside of cafeterias. This is a frequent attractant for pests as ants and mice.

The percentage of school districts that employed staff certified as pesticide applicators dropped from 50% in 2001 to 34% in 2013. Most districts did not have regularly scheduled pesticide applications. However, the rate of those that did, around 23%, changed little from 2001 to 2013.

The most frequent and troublesome pests in NYS schools in both surveys were ants, stinging insects, mice, and weeds. The only pest situation that significantly increased was geese, from 14% of the districts in 2001 to 25% in 2013.

In 2013, we asked schools about their use of minimum risk pesticides, as products with boric acid or plant essential oils. Fourteen percent of the districts indicated that they used these products routinely, while 62% stated that minimum risk pesticides are used infrequently. Future trends in the use of such products by schools would be informative.

Most NYS school districts received complaints about pests within three years prior to 2013. Not over two per cent had received complaints about pesticide applications during the same period.

10067900006_74026205a5_k Carpenter Ants foraging

Almost 90% of the survey respondents indicated that they had not experienced any problems implementing the Neighbor Notification Law, and almost 50% stated that the law resulted in a significant reduction in pesticide use by their school districts. Almost 60% indicated little impact of the Child Safe Playing Field Act since they had already implemented pesticide alternatives. About 22% stated a major impact and anticipated difficulty in maintaining quality of the grounds. Another 20% indicated moderate changes to their practices and that they were looking into pesticide alternatives. Over 60% of the survey respondents indicated that the Child Safe Playing Field Act had caused a reduction in pesticide use by their school districts.

Pollinator Week

Are you concerned about the reduced numbers of pollinating  insects? Pollinators are a necessary part of plant and crop success, which mean we depend on them for food as well.  Even with the valid concern about loss of bee colonies, this is a good time to understand that pollinators also include many insects, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles and other animals.  Some plants even depend on four-legged mammals to move pollen from plant to plant.

pwlogo2014

The U.S. Senate supported National Pollinator Week years ago, and it has spread internationally. Events are planned around the country to celebrate and educate.

Two simple ways to help pollinators are 1) reduced used of pesticides and 2) protection of habitat.

Protecting habitat can be as simple as adding a few new perennial flowers to your garden and leaving more un-mowed, or un-cultivated natural growth areas along the edges of properties.  This also ties in with the simple basics of IPM. Creating habitat for pollinators also encourages natural predators of insect pests.

220px-Bidens_flwr composite flower A typical Asteraceae flower head (here Bidens torta) showing the individual flowers

 

Composite flowers, those from the asteraceae family, are favorites of pollinator insects and beneficial insects. The above image  from Wikipedia shows the center of composite flowers are actually groups of small separate flowers surrounded by large attracting petals. Flowers within a flower!

Composite flowers and a variety of plant material in your yard and garden are a helpful and beautiful way to support pollinators.

Here are three ‘fast facts’ from the Pollination Partnership:

About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of
animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to
plant for fertilization.
 
About 1,000 of all pollinators are vertebrates such as birds,
bats, and small mammals.
 
Most pollinators (about 200,000 species) are beneficial
insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies,
moths, and bees.

Learn more at their website: Pollinator Partnership

Happy Summer!