Congress May Derail District Wildlife Effort
||Northwest Current (DC)
||Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Animal welfare advocates are
worried that a Virginia legislator
may seek to weaken new D.C.
wildlife protections when the city’s
budget comes up for a vote by the
U.S. House of Representatives.
According to an official with the
Washington Humane Society,
Republican Rep. Frank R. Wolf is
considering adding an amendment
to the city’s budget bill that would
strip funding for implementation of
the Wildlife Protection Act, which
went into effect in March but is
“We don’t know what they’re
planning on doing with that amendment,”
said Washington Humane
Society vice president Scott
Giacoppo, who met with staffers
from Wolf’s office last week. “But
we’re worried it could have the
effect of derailing the law.”
Wolf’s press secretary did not
respond to requests for comment.
The law — introduced by Ward
3 D.C. Council member Mary Cheh
and backed by the local and national Humane Society — creates a
licensing program for pest-control
companies and regulates the capture
and release of animals such as
squirrels, raccoons and opossums.
The measure also prevents pestcontrol
companies from using leghold
or body-crushing traps for
animals, and it requires the companies
to try to release trapped animals
into the outdoors or to wildlife
rehabilitation centers before opting
The law does allow euthanasia
when other methods for animal
removal are unsuccessful. And it
does not apply to house mice or
Giacoppo said the act provides
important safeguards for animals
and creates more transparency for
residents. “This isn’t just an animal
protection bill,” Giacoppo said.
“It’s consumer protection as well.”
But the measure met resistance
from pest-control interests.
Gene Harrington, director of
government affairs for the National
Pest Management Association, said
the law increases pest-removal
costs and eliminates tools that have
been used effectively for years.
He said he’s especially concerned
about the impact on neighboring
jurisdictions — an issue his
group has been contacting Virginia’s
congressional delegation about for
“One of the issues that was
never addressed in the bill was the
disposition of wildlife,” he said.
He said officials should be particularly
concerned given the incidence
of rabies in Virginia.
“There’s very legitimate interest
in trying to make sure that wildlife
from the District doesn’t get
dropped into Virginia,” he said.
But Giacoppo said officials
shouldn’t be worried. Virginia
already has laws on its books preventing
the release of out-of-state
animals there. “They would be
breaking the law,” he said.
And Giacoppo said it’s unlikely
that pest-control companies would
choose to release animals in
Virginia anyway, given gas prices
and the time it would take to transport
the animals across state lines.
He said the Washington Humane
Society advocates the use of wire
enclosures with one-way doors to
usher animals out of houses and
prevent them from returning.
He added that any ambiguity in
the law can be refined by adopting
regulations. For instance, he said,
the regulations could incorporate a
provision stating that “transporting
animals across jurisdictional lines
is cause for a loss of license.”
Giacoppo is calling on supporters
to mobilize against any amendments,
which he sees as an affront
to home rule. “They don’t like a
law that isn’t affecting Virginia and
they’re just exercising their authority
over D.C.,” he said.