public policy

Unfair USDA/WS Competition with PMPs

USDA/Wildlife Services Publishes Policy on Competition with Private Sector in Urban Areas
(Posted August 27, 2013)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services recently published the agency's policy on wildlife damage management in urban areas. This action officially makes public and codifies an agreement between Wildlife Services and NPMA pertaining to unfair and unauthorized WS competition with the private sector for certain types of nuisance wildlife work.

Federal law grants Wildlife Services broad authority to engage in most types of wildlife damage management. The only exception is "urban rodent control." The law does not define the term, however. The lack of a clear, uniform definition of the term has created confusion about when Wildlife Services may provide wildlife damage control assistance and frustrated private sector pest management companies in urban and suburban areas that have had to compete with Wildlife Services for "urban rodent control." The just issued policy codifies and defines the term "urban rodent control," making it clearer when Wildlife Services may or may not conduct rodent control activities.

Under the definition of "urban rodent control," Wildlife Services will be precluded from directly controlling mice, rats, voles, squirrels, chipmunks, gophers, and woodchucks/groundhogs in a city or town with a population greater than 50,000 inhabitants, as well as the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to such a city or town, except in limited circumstances. Specific exceptions include: actions involving Federal agencies; government entities engaged in a cooperative service agreement with Wildlife Services to provide direct control of rodents as of October 1, 2013; a State in which direct control of the rodent species has been expressly authorized by State law, rulemaking, or a local jurisdiction's ordinance promulgated by public notice and an opportunity for public comment or as otherwise promulgated as required and authorized by the respective State or local law; and railways and airport air sides areas. Otherwise, Wildlife Services will refer all requests for operational assistance with urban rodent control from private entities such as home and business owners and associations to private sector pest control companies.

Click here to read the entire policy, which goes into effect on October 1, the start of Fiscal Year 2014.

Pest Elimination Services Transparency & Terminology (PESTT) Act

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program was founded in the late 19th Century to control predators and protect America agriculture. A 1987 law authorized WS to manage nuisance birds and mammals in non-agricultural settings. While the law was expressly intended to permit WS to control birds at airports and engage in rabies prevention activities, it is written very broadly and actually gives WS the authority to perform almost any type of nuisance wildlife control work imaginable (regardless of whether it is in competition with the private sector), except "urban rodent control." Unfortunately, the law doesn't define the phrase, so the exception is unclear and toothless.

Professional pest and wildlife management companies have complained to National Pest Management Association staff for many years about competition from WS for various nuisance wildlife work. NPMA has strived just as long to try to address those concerns. Most recently, NPMA helped Congressmen Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and their staffs develop legislation entitled "Pest Elimination Services Transparency & Terminology (PESTT) Act" (H.R. 730), a bill limiting WS competition with the private sector that they introduced on February 14.

Other House members that have signed on as cosponsors of the legislation include Congressmen John Campbell (R-CA), Chris Collins (R-NY), Peter Defazio (D-OR), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Doc Hastings (R-WA), Bill Huizinga (R-MI), Stephen Fincher (R-TN), Steve King (R-IA), Tom Rooney (R-FL) and Austin Scott (R-GA).

Thanks in advance for helping build support in Congress for this important, much needed legislation.