Carpenter, J., Donaldson, S., and Hefner, M. 2011, Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife, University of Nevada Extension, FS-2011-40

Wildlife is one of Nevada’s treasured assets. As a result of urban expansion, humans and wildlife are often found living in each other’s backyards. This fact sheet discusses ways to reduce conflicts between humans and wildlife, and focuses on vertebrate animals, or animals that have a backbone.

Unfortunately, there is no single solution for managing nuisance wildlife safely and effectively. Your options depend on the species of animal, where you live, and your comfort level with different methods of control.

The first step is to properly identify the species of animal that you’d like to manage. Assistance with identification can be obtained from Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (Extension) and the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDOA). It’s important to properly identify the problem wildlife, as many animals in Nevada are protected during all or part of the year. This includes game species and migratory birds. You may be subject to a fine or other penalties if you harass or kill one of these animals, even if it is a nuisance to you.

Shooting is sometimes but not always an option for managing nuisance wildlife. Before you decide to shoot a nuisance animal, you should be aware that there are specific rules and regulations related to the discharge of firearms. Check with local authorities, including the NDOW, before shooting a nuisance animal.

While you can live‐trap some nuisance wildlife, relocation is not allowed. The trapped animals must be destroyed, since they may carry disease and relocation could spread the disease. Additionally, many of these diseases are transmissible to humans. Always use caution when dealing with wildlife and never approach wildlife that is acting strangely. The USDA Wildlife Services will loan out traps and humanely euthanize trapped animals. They can be reached at 1‐866‐4USDAWS (1‐866‐487‐3297) or (775) 851‐4848.

To be successful at controlling nuisance wildlife, you’ll need an exclusion plan. It does little good to remove raccoons from your attic if you do not discourage more raccoons from taking up residence. Similarly, you can shoot the jackrabbit in your yard, but unless you fix the hole in your fence, another jackrabbit will crawl through. Exclusion requires the following:

  • Seal off all entry points into your home. This includes attics, chimneys, eaves, sheds, out‐buildings and doggie doors.
  • Refrain from feeding wildlife. You will often attract unwanted animals.
  • Remove as many temptations as possible. Bring pets and their food dishes in at night and eliminate water sources. Limit edible scraps in your compost pile.
  • Limit access to the temptations you can’t remove. Better fencing or buried fencing may discourage nuisance wildlife. Secure garbage cans and wait until the collection day to put out the garbage.

The following tables list common nuisance wildlife in Nevada. Legal status, hunting and trapping restrictions, exemptions, and other control measures are listed for each species. Additional information about nuisance wildlife and a list of websites are provided on the last page.

Control of large carnivores, such as bears, mountain lions and bobcats, should not be attempted by the average homeowner. For aid in controlling these species, contact the Nevada Department of Wildlife Dispatch Office at (775) 688‐1331 or (775) 688‐1332. NDOW also maintains a Bear Hotline at 775‐688‐BEAR that is wired directly into NDOW’s Dispatch Center in Reno. Normal business hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. As with almost all pests, after the animal is removed, apply exclusion techniques and remove temptations to eliminate recurrence of the problem.

Endangered Species Act:

In Nevada, the Endangered Species Act is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. This law protects all plants and animals listed as endangered or threatened in the state. “Protects” means an endangered or threatened species may not be injured or harassed even inadvertently.

What does this mean for your nuisance wildlife control plans? Even if the endangered or threatened species is not the target of your pest control plan, if they are in the vicinity, you must consider the wellbeing of the endangered or threatened species during your planning process. It also means that the species may not be killed, harmed or collected without a permit. Such permits are only granted under very stringent guidelines and very specific circumstances.

There are a few animals in Nevada that have either federal‐ or state‐protected status under the Endangered Species Act. The pygmy rabbit has state “Species of Special Concern” status and may not be hunted, trapped, killed or harassed.

Migratory Bird Treaty Act:

Many bird species are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), including ducks, geese, songbirds, gulls, shorebirds, wading birds and birds of prey. These birds may not be hunted, captured or killed. Additionally, you may not destroy or harass nests or eggs. Before they have built a nest or laid any eggs, you can use scare tactics or harass birds to discourage them from nesting on your property. However, once they have laid eggs, under the MBTA you may not disturb the nest.

There are a few exceptions:

  • Pigeons (rock doves), house sparrows or English sparrows, and European starlings. These birds are not protected and are not subject to the MBTA.
  • Upland game birds that do not migrate, such as quail, pheasant, grouse, chukar, etc.
  • Certain blackbirds in certain agricultural settings.

Game Animal Status:

Many animals in Nevada are designated game animals. These animals can only be hunted during their specific hunting season. You must have a valid hunting license. These include cottontail rabbits, white‐tailed jackrabbits, deer and big game species, quail, crows, ducks, geese and other waterfowl.

Furbearing Status:

Some animals in Nevada are designated as furbearing. Control of these animals requires a valid trapping license and may only be allowed during certain times of the year during the specified trapping season. Beaver, bobcat, fox and muskrat are designated as furbearing in Nevada.

The following websites provide additional information:

  • Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, ICWDM
  • Nevada Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Alerts/ Resource Protection, NDA
  • Nevada Department of Wildlife, Human‐Wildlife Conflicts, NDOW
  • University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Pesticide Safety Education Program, Vertebrate Pest Management, Extension
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Wildlife Damage Management, USDA
About Mammals
Mammals Legal Status
Bats* Protected, sensitive or threatened species
Badgers Unprotected species
Beavers Furbearing species
Bobcats Furbearing species
Chipmunks** Protected, sensitive, or threatened species and unprotected species
Coyotes Unprotected species
Deer Game species
Fox Furbearing species
Ground Squirrels Unprotected species
Black-tailed Jackrabbits Unprotected species
Marmots Unprotected species
Voles (Meadow Mice) Unprotected species
Wood rat / Packrat Unprotected species
Cottontail Rabbits & Whitetailed Jackrabbit Game species
Raccoons Unprotected species
Skunks Unprotected species
Mammals Management Guidelines
Bats* May not be hunted, trapped or harassed at any time. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Badgers Hunting without a license is approved. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Beavers Hunting is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Trapping is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Bobcats Hunting is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Trapping is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Chipmunks** Hunting without a license is approved. Live trap and euthanize. Do not relocate.  Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Coyotes Trapping is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Hunting without a license is approved. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Deer Hunting is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Fox Hunting is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Trapping is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Ground Squirrels Hunting without a license is approved. Live trap and euthanize. Do not relocate. Use rodenticide bait according to label instructions and apply in a bait station. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Black-tailed Jackrabbits Hunting without a license is approved. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Marmots Hunting without a license is approved. Live trap and euthanize. Do not relocate. Use rodenticide bait according to label instructions and apply in a bait station. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Voles (Meadow Mice) Use rodenticide bait according to label instructions and apply in a bait station. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Wood rat / Packrat Live trap and euthanize. Do not relocate. Use rodenticide bait according to label instructions and apply in a bait station. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Cottontail Rabbits & Whitetailed Jackrabbit Hunting is approved in the established season with an appropriate license. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Raccoons Hunting without a license is approved. Live trap and euthanize. Do not relocate. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.
Skunks Hunting without a license is approved. Live trap and euthanize. Do not relocate. Eliminate hiding places and cover, such as rock and debris piles and low-growing vegetation. Exclusion techniques: Eliminate access; install barriers to keep animals out; install barriers when animals are away; use fine-mesh wire to protect trees and other sensitive plants; repair holes in fences and buildings.

 *Only five species of bats are protected.

**Palmers and Hidden Forest Uinta Chipmunks are protected under state law.

About Birds
Birds Legal Status
California Quail Game bird
Crows Game bird and protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
Raptors - Owls, Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Eagles Protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
Pigeons (Rock Dovers) Not protected by MBTA - introduced feral species
Starlings Not protected by MBTA - introduced feral species
Waterfowl - Ducks, Geese, Coots Game bird and protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
Woodpeckers & Flickers Protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
Swallows Protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)
House Sparrows (English Sparrows) Not protected by MBTA - introduced feral species
Birds Legal Status
California Quail Capture, killing or possession prohibited unless you obtain a special permit issued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NDOW. May only be hinted during established season with appropriate license and/or permit. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness.
Crows Capture, killing or possession prohibited unless you obtain a special permit issued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NDOW. May only be hinted during established season with appropriate license and/or permit. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness.
Raptors - Owls, Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Eagles Capture, killing or possession prohibited unless you obtain a special permit issued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NDOW. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. No permits are required to scare or harass birds, but you mist do so before nesting or egg-laying occurs. May not harm nest or eggs. Nest removal only when eggs or young are not present.
Pigeons (Rock Dovers) May be hunted at any time without a license. Note: Discharge of firearms is prohibited in some areas. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. Live trapping and euthanasia are approved. Relocation is not effective, as birds will return from more than 50 miles away. Chemical pesticides may be applied by a state-licensed applicator.
Starlings May be hunted at any time without a license. Note: Discharge of firearms is prohibited in some areas. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. Live trapping and euthanasia are approved. Relocation is not effective, as birds will return from more than 50 miles away. Chemical pesticides may be applied by a state-licensed applicator.
Waterfowl - Ducks, Geese, Coots Capture, killing or possession prohibited unless you obtain a special permit issued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NDOW. May only be hinted during established season with appropriate license and/or permit. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. No permits are required to scare or harass birds, but you mist do so before nesting or egg-laying occurs. May not harm nest or eggs. Nest removal only when eggs or young are not present.
Woodpeckers & Flickers Capture, killing or poss ession prohibited unless you obtain a special permit issued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NDOW. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. No permits are required to scare or harass birds, but you mist do so before nesting or egg-laying occurs. May not harm nest or eggs. Nest removal only when eggs or young are not present.
Swallows Capture, killing or possession prohibited unless you obtain a special permit issued by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and NDOW. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. No permits are required to scare or harass birds, but you mist do so before nesting or egg-laying occurs. May not harm nest or eggs. Nest removal only when eggs or young are not present.
House Sparrows (English Sparrows) May be hunted at any time without a license. Note: Discharge of firearms is prohibited in some areas. Exclude by installing a barrier. Remove sources of food and water. Frightening devices may also have limited effectiveness. Live trapping and euthanasia are approved. Relocation is not effective, as birds will return from more than 50 miles away. Chemical pesticides may be applied by a state-licensed applicator. 

Learn more about the author(s)

 

Extension Director's Office | On the campus of University of Nevada, Reno