This is the time of year that many homeowners start their annual battle with nuisance wildlife. While trapping animals is not always required or desirable, it may be necessary in some cases to alleviate damage. Homeowners will typically use a box-style or cage “live” trap. Before you take action, there are a few key points you should first consider.
What permits, if any, are required?
Some animals require a permit prior to trapping. Raccoons, skunks, opossums, groundhogs, gray squirrels and fox squirrels are examples of mammals that do not require a permit in Indiana. Resident landowners or tenants can legally capture these species if the animal is causing damage to the property. However, you no longer have to report capture of wildlife to a conservation officer within 72 hours. Perhaps to the surprise of probably most people, rabbits do require a Nuisance Animal Control Permit prior to trapping. The Indiana DNR has a list of permitting requirements.
What do you do with wildlife you catch?
You have two choices of what to do with wildlife you capture: let it go or euthanize it (put to death humanely by injection). In either case, you may not possess an animal for more than 24 hours. If you relocate an animal, you must have permission of the landowner or property manager (even for public lands) AND you may only release that animal within the county of capture.
A common question I receive is, “What should I do?” There is no answer for which is best because circumstances differ. Most people probably prefer to let them go somewhere else because they find euthanizing animals unacceptable. They also may think that letting them go allows them to live out their lives, but this may not be the case. There has been some research on what happens to translocated raccoons and tree squirrels. In both cases, the animals don’t stay where they were let go. In the case of squirrels, a high number died within 88 days of release. Raccoons removed from structures tended to relocate in another structure.
Other things to consider
If you are interested in hiring a state licensed animal control professional, you can visit the Indiana DNR Nuisance Wildlife page and click on the link to “Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators.”
Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University