News of the Week

June 18, 2015
Licensed Operators Help Control Nuisance Wildlife
    Encounters between people and wildlife have surged in recent weeks, prompted in part by record rainfall and flooding events in many parts of Oklahoma.
    The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation wants to remind everyone that the best course of action is to leave all wildlife alone.

"After a flooding event, you're likely going to see more snakes and creatures that have been displaced from their normal areas," said Capt. David Deckard, operations manager for the Wildlife Department. "The most important thing you can do is to keep your distance and let those animals go about their way."

However, in a few cases, displaced wildlife might not leave the area or might pose a serious threat to personal safety. Do not risk getting bitten or attacked by a wild animal. Instead, contact a local game warden or a nearby Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator(NWCO).

"The NWCO program is designed to provide assistance to people who are having trouble with regulated species of wildlife," Deckard said.

Oklahoma laws generally grant people the ability to deal with problems caused by wildlife that are not protected by state or federal laws. This would apply to control of armadillos, bats (except for certain endangered species), coyotes, English (house) sparrows, European starlings, feral pigeons, flying squirrels, gophers, porcupines, ground squirrels, moles, mice, rats, amphibians (except for certain endangered or threatened species), feral swine and woodchucks.

Considerable assistance is available from the Wildlife Services division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is authorized under state and federal laws to assist in management and control of rodents, nongame birds, feral pigeons, furbearers, migratory birds and mountain lions.

But many landowners may prefer to employ a NWCO who is skilled and educated in handling human/wildlife conflicts. Although permitted and regulated by the Wildlife Department, NWCOs are not state employees. They operate as private enterprises and normally charge a fee or solicit a donation for their services.

NWCOs are authorized to capture, relocate or euthanize nuisance wildlife including snakes, armadillos, badgers, bats (except endangered species), beavers, bobcats, cottontail rabbits, coyotes, fox squirrels, gray squirrels, flying squirrels, gray and red foxes, ground squirrels, jackrabbits, minks, muskrats, nutrias, opossums, gophers, porcupines, raccoons, rats, striped skunks, weasels and woodchucks. And some NWCOs are authorized to manage and control Canada geese.

Problems or complaints involving big-game species (including elk, deer, turkey, bear and mountain lion), game birds, or endangered and threatened species may only be handled by a NWCO when specifically authorized by the Wildlife Department. 

The Wildlife Department maintains a list of licensed NWCOs on its website You can also learn 11 things you can do to reduce problems with nuisance wildlife on the NWCO web page. For more information about the Nuisance Wildlife Control program, call David Deckard at (405) 522-0871.


When a wildlife encounter becomes a problem, a good option is to contact a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator. A list of licensed NWCOs is available on the Wildlife Department's website, (Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr CC- BY2.0)