Overturned trash cans are a nuisance, but is the situation dangerous? Depends on whether the culprit is a bear or a mouse. To use the best practices approach, you need to think like a detective. Imagine if you saw this scene after the bear left. A careless NWCO might blame the problem on a raccoon and suggest ways to make the cans raccoon-proof. Those measures might not slow down a bear. So the problem, and the safety risk, could continue. Most NWCOs do a certain amount of clean-up of the site as part of their service. If the site presents a formidable mess, some NWCOs contract for clean-up separately while others recommend a cleaning service. Whether you do a little or a lot of cleaning on site, you'll still need to clean your gear and your truck.
Clean and disinfect your equipment with a commercial disinfectant or a 10% chlorine bleach solution—that's one part bleach to nine parts water. This doesn't last long, so mix up a new batch every day. Many NWCOs keep a 10% bleach solution in a quart-sized spray bottle in the truck, for quick, small cleaning jobs. (Always read the label on any cleaning product or disinfectant before using it.)
NEVER mix bleach and ammonia! A toxic gas will result. A similar gas may be produced when bleach is applied to bird droppings.
Remember, if you're working around bird, bat, or rodent droppings or nest materials, don't stir up dust. Wear the proper safety gear. Wet down anything that might have been contaminated with disinfectant, including any dead animals. Wipe up with a damp towel or sponge, or use a commercial, heavy-duty vacuum.
Cleaning up after raccoons is a bit trickier. The eggs of the parasite that causes raccoon roundworm are resistant to disinfectants. Contaminated materials, feces, and soil should be burned, if possible. Flame your metal traps using a propane torch, or use boiling water and bleach. For those materials that can't be burned, either wash with boiling water and bleach (a good option for decks, porches, and contaminated clothing) or double-bag the material and bury it deeply.
To refresh your memory for safety protocols, here are the diseases you're more likely to encounter when working with:
All of these species attract a variety of parasites, too. And although they don't catch it as often, woodchucks, squirrels, and birds may suffer from raccoon roundworm. Any mammal can be infected with rabies.
Carcasses and other potentially contaminated materials (gloves, protective clothing, nesting materials) must be disposed of properly, because they can also spread diseases. In New York State, the health department may give you specific disposal instructions, which you must follow. Otherwise, these items may be buried, burned, or sent to a landfill.
What you need to know:
Before you start a job:
While you're working:
After you're done for the day:
Here are some points to consider for each disposal method, based on recommendations proposed by the National Wildlife Control Operators Association:
3. Removal to a standard landfill (Type II licensed solid waste disposal facility, a.k.a. "the dump")
4. Follow state and local regulations for solid waste disposal.
Needs of People and wildlife
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.
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.