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Monday, August 08, 2011

Protecting D.C.’s Consumers and Wildlife

The D.C. City Council last year unanimously passed an ordinance to protect consumers and wildlife by regulating private wildlife control operators. The new law brings transparency to an industry that often charges consumers hundreds or even thousands of dollars while failing to provide long-term solutions to urban wildlife problems, and it prohibits particularly inhumane methods of killing animals, such as using steel-jawed leghold traps, drowning, and injecting them with nail polish remover.

281x144_raccoon_istock Lobbyists for the pest control companies are now trying to get Congress to intervene and defund the D.C. law. According to some news reports, the critics somehow believe the ordinance will result in a mass migration of wildlife crossing the border from D.C. to neighboring states, like herds of wildebeest crossing the Serengeti.

I had an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post responding to these charges. Here’s an excerpt:

The law does nothing to change where animals can be released; it has always been illegal to release animals on federal lands and to transport wildlife across state lines.

The D.C. law suggests relocating or releasing animals when possible, but it does not mandate those actions and does not prohibit lethal control. If there is no place or practical way to release the animal in the District, the animal would probably be killed, but the most inhumane and abusive methods would be disallowed and the animal’s suffering would be reduced. The D.C. law will, in fact, help prevent illegal transports, since trappers will now be licensed and no longer able to operate in the shadows.
The D.C. law provides modest parameters for regulating an industry that has a checkered history of overcharging consumers and using painful and indiscriminate killing methods. It establishes licensing and reporting requirements similar to those in 35 other states, including Maryland and Virginia.

You can read the full op-ed at the Post’s web site, and feel free to leave a comment.


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