The HSUS and Washington Humane Society Praise DC Council for Passing Wildlife Protection Act

The Humane Society of the United States and the Washington Humane Society praised the Council of the District of Columbia for passing legislation (B18-498, the Wildlife Protection Act)  to regulate wildlife control operators in the District, ensuring property owner protection as well as humane treatment of our local wildlife. The Council approved this measure unanimously.

In recent decades, as their habitat is damaged by development, wild animals have been forced to adapt to urban areas and conflicts between people and wildlife have increased — from squirrels nesting in the attic to deer eating roses in the garden. Homeowners are increasingly turning to professional wildlife control companies to help solve such problems. 

The more than 70 wildlife control companies providing services in the metro area are regulated in Maryland and Virginia, but until today, their activities were completely unregulated in the District of Columbia. Until now, these companies have been allowed to kill wild animals in cruel ways, such as by drowning, suffocation, poison and injecting acetone into their bodies. The Wildlife Protection Act establishes professional standards modeled on best practices to ensure wildlife control companies working the District operate humanely and fairly.

“I’m pleased that the Council has acted to ensure that wildlife control companies will be subject to proper regulation so that animal cruelty will not be tolerated in the District,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh, who introduced the measure. “Consumers expect these businesses not to engage in inhumane practices. This measure aims to ensure that such consumer expectations are met.”

“We thank Councilmember Mary Cheh, whose compassion for animals and concern for the protection of consumers in the District led to this common-sense measure,” said Michael Markarian, chief operating officer of The HSUS. “The D.C. Council has brought the District in line with 30 other states that already regulate this industry, and ensured that urban wildlife will be treated more humanely in the nation’s capital.”

The Act requires wildlife control operators to use more humane trapping tools and techniques, encourages the practice of reuniting mothers with their young to prevent orphaning and future damage of the consumer’s home, prohibits the killing of wild animals by techniques not approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and helps to protect consumers by requiring companies to provide an assessment of the problem and to disclose all options—lethal and non-lethal—for addressing the conflict.

“This modest measure will have substantial benefits for people and wildlife. Properly trained and licensed trappers will provide District residents with better customer service, our wildlife will not suffer unnecessary cruelty, and the legislation will protect family pets from being injured or killed in body-crushing traps that are currently permitted in the District,” said Scott Giacoppo, vice president and chief programs officer for the Washington Humane Society.

This measure will also require wildlife control operators to be trained and licensed. The District can now proudly point to its leadership in consumer protection and humane standards in the treatment of urban wildlife.

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