Dealing with Problem Animals | A Defense Lawyer’s Viewpoint | The Criminal and Administrative Problems
Problem Animals in the State of Washington
With the continuing expansion of residential areas, inevitably, there is overlap where animals and people live. At times this can result in confrontations where animals become a nuisance or even a danger to the home/property owners. Taking matters into your own hands can lead to overzealous State or Federal agents charging generally law-abiding property owners with a whole host of crimes like:
- Unlawful Hunting of Big Game
- Unlawful Hunting of Wild Animal
- Unlawful Taking of Endangered Fish or Wildlife
- Unlawful Trapping
The defense lawyers in our office have experience with these enforcement actions and aggressively represent our client’s view of justice to assure they get the right result and limit the effects of zealous enforcement. However, as defense attorneys, we also like to remind individuals of the old adage, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of remedy. Being familiar with the regulations and taking the correct steps in advance can protect you from criminal charges later down the roadway. Our office can help you with either situation.
Animals On Your Own Private Property
It is important to realize that simply because an animal wanders on to your property and makes a nuisance of itself, does not mean that all of the regulations governing the killing and trapping of said animal no longer apply. All the laws of Washington State involving trapping, Unlawful Hunting of Big Game, Waste and Endangered Species do not distinguish between public and private land. As attorneys who represent individuals accused in criminal and administrative actions, this fundamental misunderstanding leads to a lot of criminal charges. Remember, if an officer is talking to you, there is no such thing as a friendly conversation. Their job is to collect evidence, so follow our advice surrounding criminal investigations and giving statements. Anything you say to them can be used against you later in a criminal trial. Contact our office as soon as possible to assure your rights are properly defended.
Removal of Problem Animal | Options
Depending on the property’s location, the animal in question, and the season, there may be different options on how to handle a problem. If nonlethal methods are ineffective or are not applicable, you can contact Fish & Wildlife to seek a permit for more drastic measures. Permits may be granted for padded foothold traps, non-strangling type foot snares, and conibear type traps in water. The property owner is responsible for disposing of the animal.
For those who are not interested it handling the matter on there own or cannot legally due so for a variety of reason, they can contact and hire a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO.) NWCOs are private operators who have been licensed by the Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlife to trap and/or remove certain types of species causing nuisance or damage problems for landowners. A NWCO’s trapping license will enable them to handle a broad variety of problem animals in locations and seasons that a normal individual may not be permitted to. Remember, it is illegal for an individual to trap wildlife on the property of another for a fee without a nuisance wildlife control certification.