Introduction to New York WCO Training Program

Introduction to the NY WCO Manual

What’s This All About?

This training manual has four goals:

  • To help you learn the essentials of wildlife damage management,
  • To guide you to useful sources of information,
  • To help you pass a test on wildlife damage management so you will qualify for certification or licensing by New York State, and
  • To give you the highest quality wildlife species and damage management information available.

What is “wildlife damage management”?
It is an integrated approach to dealing with the negative impacts of wildlife that also minimizes risks to the environment and our health and well-being. It is the timely use of a variety of cost-effective, environmentally safe, and socially acceptable methods to reduce human-wildlife conflicts to a tolerable level.
No “magic pills” are available for dealing with problems caused by wildlife. No single, simple remedy can be relied upon to solve all of the problems you will encounter.

Photo courtesy of Paul D. Curtis.

At times, you may even need a different solution for the “same” problem. Your favorite method for removing a raccoon from a chimney may not work at a particular house, for example, because of limited access to the roof. Often, effective long-term solutions involve the use of several methods, such as a combination of removal and exclusion. So there’s another reason to master a variety of tools and techniques.
Recommended methods are based on the best available information, which includes scientific knowledge and the field experience of wildlife biologists and nuisance wildlife control operators (NWCOs). As we learn more and refine the tools and techniques of the trade, our methods keep improving. That’s why we urge you to keep learning throughout your career; join a professional organization that puts you in touch with other NWCOs, or read magazines and online resources.

How to Use This Manual

This manual was written in a format that works for many people. If it doesn’t match your learning style, follow your own methods. How you learn the material doesn’t matter much; what counts is how well you master the subject.
Each module follows this format:

  • Learning objectives
  • Module text
  • Review questions (optional)

If you’re an experienced NWCO, you may already know much of the material covered in this manual. If you’d like to save time, here’s a way to gauge if you are ready to take the test: Review the table of contents. Do you feel that you know enough about these topics? Then read the learning objectives at the beginning of each module. Do they make sense to you? If so, then skim through the module and read about topics that might be new to you. Then try the review questions. If you can answer most of them correctly, you may be ready to take the test right away. The certification exam is linked to the learning objectives. If you master those points, you should be able to pass the test.
If you need species and damage control information, go to the end of the training modules to Wildlife Species Information.
For those who want to work through the manual in depth, here are a few ideas that should help you work smarter, not harder. First, before you launch into the module, read the learning objectives. They may not make sense yet but they will give you an idea of what’s coming and what matters most. When you are finished reading the module, read the learning objectives again. You should understand them now. If you stumble over one, re-read that section of the manual. If there’s a term you don’t know, check the glossary. When you are done reading the module, answer the review questions; this will help you decide if you have mastered the material.
Wildlife control and wildlife damage management (WDM) is an exciting industry with work that often is performed outdoors. It provides rewards through customer satisfaction and successful completion of a job.

Photo courtesy of Paul D. Curtis.

Animals, people, environmental challenges, and regulations will make your job very interesting.
Despite rapid growth within the WDM industry, many states still lack meaningful training standards and requirements for NWCOs. Urban and suburban homeowners, farmers, businesses, and government agencies often depend on their services. Standards protect you, the operator, and the customer. Wildlife agencies often lack adequate staff, funding, and expertise required to deliver training for NWCOs. The National Wildlife Control Training Program (NWCTP) was created to provide basic training information for NWCOs.
The NWCTP supports state agencies that want to adopt standard training programs. Faculty from Cornell University, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point collaborated to develop a comprehensive training program for NWCOs working in the field of WDM. The NWCTP focuses on providing research-based methods for a variety of wildlife species using the latest management and handling techniques within a problem solution and management framework of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).
Every NWCO should learn the basic principles of WDM and understand how to use key information in the wildlife species accounts.
New York has adopted this training program and requires a passing grade of 80% or better for NWCOs to be licensed to conduct wildlife control work.
Some states require that copies of all applicable federal permits and applicator licenses must be submitted when a NWCO completes the application to be permitted to capture and control wildlife. Additional state hunting and trapping laws may apply and additional licenses may be required. Failure to abide by terms as described within the issued permit may be grounds for prosecution or revocation of the permit.
The NWCTP training program provides the basic information that NWCOs need to work effectively in the field. Not only does it cover animal handling and management techniques, but it includes important issues such as Professionalism, Physical Safety, Wildlife Diseases, and Euthanasia. We have adapted the basic NWCO training program to an online format so individuals can take the training at their own convenience on our learning management server dedicated to WDM.