People Power: Wild Thing—I Think I Love You
Vermont humane investigator branches out into innovative wildlife control business
Most wildlife removal companies called by homeowners deal with unwanted wild animals by killing them—they’re often drowned, gassed, or shot. If they escape this gruesome fate, they’re trapped and released into unfamiliar territory, which can be fatal.
JoAnn Nichols is a different breed of wildlife control operator.
In 2010, the Burlington, Vt., resident started Into the Wild, a business that offers homeowners a much kinder service. Nichols practices humane exclusion, an eviction method that requires knowing the species’ biology and habits, and using the appropriate materials and approach to solve conflicts without harming the animals.
Nichols—who worked with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife for months to develop a permit for her business—appears to be the first humane wildlife control operator in the state. The department had never issued a permit for an operation quite like hers before, she says.
She also discussed her plans with staff from The HSUS’s Urban Wildlife program, which advocates that nuisance wildlife control operators (NWCOs) practice humane exclusion.
Now, thanks to Nichols—a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with years of experience—so-called “nuisance” animals who get into buildings (such as raccoon or opossum moms seeking a protected place to give birth and care for their young) are getting a second chance to resume their lives in the wild.