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Lobby Calls on Congress To Prevent D.C. Pest Dumping

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John Adcock, president of Adcock's Trapping Service, says the legislation leaves him with fewer options to deal with animals that invade homes.
Jessica Gould
John Adcock, president of Adcock's Trapping Service, says the legislation leaves him with fewer options to deal with animals that invade homes.

Lobbyists for pest control companies are calling on members of Congress to de-fund a new law regulating the capture of wild animals that find their way into D.C. homes.

Just outside a Capitol Hill house, two squirrels scurry inside metal traps.

John Adcock, president of Adcock's Trapping Service is doing what he does everyday, transferring squirrels from traps to cages so he can deposit them at nearby parks.

"Hopefully, they'll find a tree and not give anybody else any grief," he says.

Last year, D.C. Council passed the Wildlife Protection Act. It prohibits pest control companies from using leg hold or body-crushing animal traps and also requires companies to release animals to the wild or to animal rehabilitation centers before opting for euthanasia.

"The law requires humane treatment of animals," says Council member Mary Cheh, who introduced the bill. "And if you can release the animal, you should release the animal. You shouldn't use traps that are inhumane. And if you have to euthanize them, you shouldn't do it in inhumane ways."

But Gene Harrington of the National Pest Management Association says says the city doesn't have enough green space to accommodate all the animals. "The disposition options for wildlife captured in the District of Columbia, which are already very limited, are limited even further [by the law]," he says ."Almost every type of wildlife in the District of Columbia is going to by live captured. It begs the question, what are you supposed to do with the wildlife?"

The law could force trappers to deposit the animals outside the District, he adds, which can pose its own problems.

"In the case of Maryland and Virginia, they have disease concerns," says Harrington. "They certainly don't want to have wildlife brought into their jurisdictions, especially not wildlife that's known to be rabies vector species."

His group is calling on Congress to intervene.

"One of the first steps that could be taken is simply de-funding the enforcement of the legislation until D.C., Maryland and Virginia officials meet to determine exactly what is going to happen in the District," he says.

But Cheh says there are already laws on the books prohibiting the transport of animals to neighboring states. And she says she's happy to refine the bill through regulations. Congress should stay out of it, she adds.

"The larger offense is that they're going through Congress to try to upset a law of the people of the District of Columbia," says Cheh.

Adcock says he's all for home rule, as long as it doesn't mean animals are ruling area homes.

"We love animals. We make our living off them. It's not like we just want to go around and do harm to them," he says. "We're more concerned about our customers and protecting their welfare and their safety."

And with that, he's off to deal with a raccoon that set up shop in a city basement.

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