NWCO Legal Learning Objectives

Wildlife Damage Management February 18, 2008 Print Friendly and PDF

Handbook Contents | Legal Learning Objectives | Federal Laws and Regulations | New York State Laws | Local Regulations | NYS Endangered Species | Environmental Conservation Law | Resources | ICWDM | Wildlife Species Information


Overall learning objectives for this chapter:

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  • Know which federal and state agencies regulate aspects of the nuisance wildlife control industry.
  • Understand the various state and federal laws about handling wildlife and using pesticides.
  • Recognize which situations a NWCO can handle—and which are beyond your authority.
  • Know when a state and/or federal permit is required.
  • Realize that building codes, firearm ordinances, and other local regulations may apply to your work.
  • Be aware of the requirements and procedures for attaining a state nuisance wildlife control operator license.

A number of local, state, and federal laws are designed to protect wildlife or to safeguard the public and the environment from the improper use of pesticides. You need to be aware of the current status of the laws at all levels because state and local laws are sometimes much more restrictive than federal regulations. Different laws apply to NWCOs, pesticide applicators, hunters, trappers, wildlife rehabilitators, and to those who control the populations of domestic animals such as dogs and cats. For example, if you want to use pesticides such as repellents, rodenticides, Avitrol® bait, or fumigants in your NWCO business, you will need a state commercial pesticide applicator license.

In certain situations, the landowners (or their agent) will need to obtain state and federal permits. You can help with this process and answer their questions, but you can't secure the permits for them.

This chapter introduces the relevant federal and state laws and describes the types of local laws that may affect your business. If you have any questions, contact the regulatory agency. Laws and regulations change, so stay up-to-date.

Section One: Federal laws related to wildlife control - Learning objectives

  • List the three federal agencies that regulate nuisance wildlife control.
  • Identify one way in which the Endangered Species Act might affect your business.
  • List the three groups of birds that aren't protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
  • FIFRA (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act) defines pesticides. Give three examples of pesticides used in nuisance wildlife control.
  • Identify two subject areas important to NWCOs that would be covered in depth on the OSHA website.

Section two: State laws related to wildlife control - Learning objectives

  • Name the three "rabies vector species" in New York, and the agency with the authority to decide what happens to a nuisance animal that’s a rabies vector species.
  • List two legal control techniques that may be used on a federally protected bird without obtaining special depredation permits.
  • Explain two options for dealing with a problem involving a game species.
  • Identify the laws that regulate the management of dogs and feral cats in New York.
  • In addition to your NWCO license, what other paperwork do you need to do your job?

Section three: Other pertinent state laws - Learning objectives

  • Name the agency that regulates the licensing of commercial pesticide applicators in New York State.
  • List four things you are required to do by the New York State Sanitary Code.
  • Describe three scenarios of what might happen to an unvaccinated dog that’s bitten a person, possibly exposing that person to rabies.
  • List three rules that apply to the use of firearms.
  • FIFRA and state pesticide regulations place four crucial restrictions on NWCO activity—name them.

Higher, deeper, further…optional activities to explore other perspectives about this topic.

Section one: Federal laws related to wildlife control

  • Contact the DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife for the most current lists of federally endangered and threatened species—and while you’re at it, ask for the state lists, too. Learn how to identify those species that are found in your area. Know the habitats and habits of these species.
  • Learn what you can legally do to deal with problems caused by Canada geese, gulls, and woodpeckers without the federal permit (see Appendix C).
  • Check local and state laws to determine if there are additional restrictions on bird control.
  • If you want to use pesticides in your nuisance wildlife control business, seek the proper training and obtain a commercial pesticide applicator license. Learn how to choose the least-toxic materials that provide effective results.
  • Here’s a directory of state agencies relating to wildlife damage management State Agencies.
  • Browse the OSHA website for safety tips.

Section two: State laws related to wildlife control

Section three: Other pertinent state laws

  • Check local building codes, firearms, and pest control ordinances. Would any influence your ability to control pigeons, repair a building and add exclusion devices, use firearms or traps
  • Attend a firearms safety course.

Review questions

Section One: Federal laws related to wildlife control

1. Some birds are not protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Check all of the ones that are NOT covered by this law.

___ Canada geese
___ house (English) sparrow
___ upland game birds
___ European starling
___ cowbirds & magpies (under certain circumstances)
___ pigeon (rock dove)
___ herring gull
___ woodpecker

2. A NWCO in the Midwest told you about a very effective raccoon repellent. You don't have a commercial pesticide applicator license. Can you use it at work?

a. yes
b. no
c. maybe, but only under the supervision of a veterinarian

3. If your business employs eight workers, you must offer them the chance to participate in OSHA training for the use of respirators. (Circle correct answer)


4. Which federal agencies have regulations that affect the NWCO industry? Check all that apply.

___ Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
___ Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)
___ US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)
___ US Dept. of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Division of Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS-WS)
___ US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA)
___ Department of Transportation

5. The same restrictions apply to homeowners and commercial pesticide applicators. (Circle correct answer)


6. If there's a threatened plant species near your work site, you must not:

a. tell anyone.
b. set any traps in that area.
c. apply any pesticides in that area.
d. injure it in any way.

7. It's illegal to apply a pesticide in a way that's not described on the label. (Circle correct answer)



  1. house sparrow, upland game birds, European starling, cowbirds and magpies (under certain circumstances), and the pigeon
  2. b
  3. false. OSHA kicks in when you have at least ten employees.
  4. OSHA, FAA, USFWS, US EPA, and the Department of Transportation
  5. false
  6. d
  7. true

Section two: State laws related to wildlife control

1. Which of the following wildlife are considered "rabies vector species" in New York State? (Check all that apply)

___ Bats
___ Cats
___ Foxes
___ Raccoons
___ Dogs
___ Pigeons
___ Skunks
___ Rabbits

2. Deer have destroyed your customer’s newly planted and expensive landscaping and he’s fed up. What advice can you offer over the phone?

a. Since it’s deer season, he can invite hunters onto his property and that may solve the problem for free
b. Offer to secure the special permit from the DEC that will allow you to deal with the deer
c. Tell him to call the regional DEC wildlife office to request a permit; then you can help
d. More than one answer is correct

3. The New York State laws that regulate the control of dogs and cats are

a. Environmental Conservation Law
b. Agriculture & Markets regulations, articles 7 and 26
c. New York State Humane Activities Code
d. Domestic Animals Act of New York State, article 6

4. Before you can begin work, you need

a. the landowner’s written permission
b. approval from all of the neighbors
c. to check in with the local animal control officer
d. coffee, and lots of it.

5. Restaurant owners want you to deal with the gulls that are feeding at the dumpster and annoying the customers, but they don’t want to wait. You suggest

a. Read Jonathan Livingston Seagull, take a yoga class, and chill
b. Even without the necessary permits, you can try to frighten them away by hazing them with dogs or using noisemakers
c. Better trash management will make the site less attractive to the gulls. They should empty and clean the dumpster more often.
d. You can show up tomorrow to capture the birds. Is that OK?
e. b & c
f. c & d


  1. bats, raccoons, and skunks
  2. d (answers "a" and "c" are correct)
  3. b
  4. a
  5. e

Section three: Other pertinent state laws

1. You'd like to euthanize an opossum using a firearm. There's a summer home about 80 yards from your customer's property. Can you use this technique legally?

a. yes, no problem
b. no, because you're too close to the neighbor's summer home
c. yes, but only as a guest of the owners or lessees of the summer home, and with their consent
d. do not have enough information to decide.

2. You're talking to a man on the phone, and he's frantic. A stray dog has bitten his child. He wants you to capture it and have it tested for rabies. When you get there, the child is screaming and doesn't want to let you near the dog if you're going to kill it. What do you do?

a. call the county health department
b. restrain and isolate the animal, then try to find out who owns the dog
c. explain that the dog doesn't have to be killed. It could be held in quarantine for ten days to determine if it's rabid, but if the owner can't be found, they'd have to pay for it.
d. all of the above

3. Who certifies commercial pesticide applicators in New York State?

b. Pesticide Applicator Board, NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets
c. Bureau of Pesticide Management, NYS DEC
d. None of the above

4. The New York State Sanitary Code

a. requires you to report potentially rabid animals and cases when a person or animal may have been exposed to rabies.
b. regulates the operation of commercial kitchens in restaurants, schools, nursing homes, and hospitals
c. applies only when a person has been exposed to rabies
d. focuses on wildlife, not domestic animals


  1. c
  2. d
  3. c AND a
  4. a


Handbook Contents


Needs of People and wildlife

Federal Laws and Regulations

Safety Risks for Customers

Best Practices for Wildlife Control

Professionalism Resources for NWCOs


This manual was written as a guide to train nuisance wildlife control operators in New York State. Laws and regulations may differ in your state. Always consult local and state laws before implementing wildlife damage management activities.

Contact Information

Contact your local Extension Office


Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management
National Wildlife Control Operator's Association
Wildlife Control


We thank the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for contributing this information.

Produced by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program.


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