Tag Archives: bats

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)

“How To” …Our IPM Tools for Managing School Pests

The IPM Resources menu on the Best Management Practices for School IPM website provides ‘tools’ to help practitioners, experienced or new, practice IPM. And that’s the point.

Integrated Pest Management uses science- based knowledge to reduce pest problems. But as good as your practices might be, communication between custodians, groundskeepers, school staff, teachers and administrators, as well as the school board, and greater community is crucial. As with students, pest management works best when everyone is ‘on board’.

From our experiences in schools, and discussions with school staff and pesticide control officers, we created a list of resources to help in the everyday practice and that important cooperative effort.

General IPM:

Action Thresholds in School IPM Programs

Basis Steps in IPM Implementation

Colorado Coalition School IPM Policy Statement Template

University of California IPM: A curriculum for Early Care and Education Programs

EPA Citizen’s Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety

EPA Pest Control in the School Environment: Adopting IPM

IPM for Pennsylvania Schools: A How-To Manual

IPM for School Administrators and Principals

sample of IPM for admins

Notice of Pesticide Application

Pesticide Application Record Form

Integrated Pest Management Literacy Plan for K-12 Education

Simple Inspection Form (generic indoor or outdoor)

sample generic inspe form

Long-Term Management of Structural Squirrel and Bat Problems.


Next time, we’ll focus on Resources specific to Indoor Pest Management.

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.


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!