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D.C. Passes Wildlife Protection Act

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The new wildlife protection law outlines how pest control companies in the District can handle certain animals, including squirrels.
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The new wildlife protection law outlines how pest control companies in the District can handle certain animals, including squirrels.

The act imposes some of the nations toughest rules for getting rid of squirrels, raccoons, and other critters from people's homes.

The law mandates that pest control companies use humanitarian methods for removing wild animals -- no glue boards, no body-crushing traps or snares. And no poison for pigeons or sparrows.

Trapped animals that are injured must be taken to rehabilitation centers, and the bill says pest control companies must try to preserve the family units when trapping and releasing animals.

That last provision raised a few eyebrows when the bill was introduced, and some critics have questioned whether this issue should even be a priority for the council, given the city's tough budget outlook.

The measures sponsor, Councilmember Mary Cheh, says the city lacked basic regulations for dealing with unwanted wildlife and says homeowners will not be affected.

"The law only applies to the animal wildlife companies -- it doesn't apply to the homeowner. I don't like the image of you wielding a bat and smashing a possum in the head, but this law wouldn't stop that," Cheh says.

Mice and rats are not protected under the measure.

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