Nuisance trappers face new laws on March 27

London, Ohio — Ohio’s nuisance wildlife trappers face new regulations, effective March 27.

House Bill 420 passed the general assembly in January and with it came 12 pages of proposed rules that define “nuisance wild animals” and who is allowed to charge a fee to control the bothersome critters. At the same time it, gives licensed operators greater leeway in dealing with unwanted raccoons, opossums, bats, coyotes, squirrels, geese and similar wildlife.

Ken Fitz, law enforcement administrator for the DNR’s wildlife division, said the state’s pest control industry wanted change.

“The old nuisance control laws were developed many years ago and times have changed,” Fitz said. “What was once handled mostly by local trappers as a side business has become a huge industry.”

Gov. John Kasich’s Common Sense Initiative promoted the new law as part of its effort to streamline state government, eliminate redundant regulations and make it easier to do business in Ohio.

In many ways, the new rules are more lenient than previous laws governing the eradication of nuisance wildlife.

“Changes will help ensure the industry is held to professional standards of performance, while at the same time ensuring the affected wild animals are properly managed… Many species of nuisance wild animals are totally protected or strictly regulated. This proposed rule allows them to be removed under guidelines when becoming a problem and causing damage,” the state’s website says.

The proposed rules were developed by DNR in conjunction with pest management organizations, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Ohio State Trappers Association, Fitz told state wildlife council members in February.

DNR Director Jim Zehringer signed off on the proposed rules on Jan. 24. Public comments were accepted until Feb. 14.

They mandate state training and certification for operators, ending informal nuisance trapping by friends and neighbors. Anyone who charges a fee for removing a pesky raccoon, squirrel, bat, opossum or other wildlife must complete a DNR training course and be licensed by the state. Pest control businesses will be responsible for the actions of their employees.

At the same time, licensed operators are permitted to use slightly larger (about 1 inch) traps than currently allowed under Ohio wildlife law.

Spring-assisted snares and suppressed guns are also allowed, as are some toxic chemicals. Those chemicals must comply with Ohio Department of Agriculture regulations, Fitz said.

Landowners may continue to control nuisance animals on their own property without certification. However, they will not have the options for removal that certified operators use –specifically the larger traps, suppressed guns, and spring-assisted snares.

The DNR will charge a modest fee for the training coursework and $40 for the license. Online and home study will be available in order to speed up the certification process.

Captured animals must be handled in species-specific ways.

“(Rules) define which animals must be euthanized, which must be released and which there is an option to euthanize or release,” Fitz said.

He provided some examples: raccoons must be euthanized, not moved; squirrels may be euthanized or moved; bats must be moved and released. Biologists weighed in on control measures for bats since populations of these environmentally important creatures are declining.

Failure to comply with the new rules could result in a fourth-degree misdemeanor charge. Maximum penalty for conviction is a $250 fine and 30 days in jail, as well as loss of license.

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