Best practices
for nuisance wildlife control operators in New York State

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Ch 5: Step three: Do it

Clean-up and disposal of dead animals, contaminated materials

Most NWCOs do a certain amount of cleaning as part of their service. If the site presents a formidable mess, some NWCOs contract for cleaning separately while others recommend a service. Whether you do a little or a lot of cleaning on site, you'll still need to clean your gear and your truck. Here's a quick review. For more details, see chapter four.

Clean and disinfect your equipment with a disinfectant or a 10% chlorine bleach solution—one part bleach to nine parts water. Mix up a new batch each day. Never mix bleach and ammonia!—that forms a toxic gas. For the same reason, don't apply bleach to bird droppings, which also contain ammonia.

Remember, if you're working around bird, bat, or rodent droppings or nest materials, don't stir up dust. Wear the proper safety gear. Use disinfectant to wet down anything that might have been contaminated, including any dead animals. Wipe up with a damp towel or sponge, or use a commercial, heavy-duty vacuum.

Cleaning up after raccoons is a bit trickier. The eggs of the parasite that causes raccoon roundworm are resistant to disinfectants. Areas of soil or concrete that have been contaminated can be flamed thoroughly, using a handheld propane torch (a weed burner). Turn the soil over, then flame it; repeat this process a few times. Metal traps can also be flamed; or you could opt to clean them with boiling water and bleach. To decontaminate a fireplace, woodstove, and chimney, build a roaring fire. Contaminated materials that can't withstand burning should be cleaned with boiling water and bleach. This is a good option for wooden decks, porches, and contaminated clothing.

If you're dealing with a mangy animal, clean anything that may have picked up mites, such as your clothing, equipment, or truck. The bleach solution is one option, or you can freeze objects, which will kill any mites.

To refresh your memory for safety protocols, here are the diseases you're more likely to encounter when working with:
Birds: histoplasmosis
Bats: histoplasmosis, rabies
Rodents: hantavirus (squirrels often get mange)
Raccoons: rabies, raccoon roundworm, distemper

All of these species attract a variety of parasites, too. And although they don't catch it as often, woodchucks, squirrels, and birds may suffer from raccoon roundworm. Any mammal can be infected with rabies.

Carcasses and other potentially contaminated materials (gloves, protective clothing, nesting materials) must be disposed of properly, because they can also spread diseases. In New York State, the Health Department may give you specific disposal instructions for animal carcasses, which you must follow. Otherwise, the animals and other materials may be buried, burned, or sent to a landfill.

That takes care of health concerns, but most people won't consider a place clean if it still reeks. Some NWCOs simply refer customers to commercial cleaning services. There are many commercial deodorizers that will eliminate wildlife odors. You'll find details in the skunk account.

One expensive machine, an ozone generator, has been marketed to NWCOs as a way to clean or purify air. Here's what the EPA has to say about that. "Often the vendors of ozone generators make statements and distribute material that lead the public to believe that these devices are always safe and effective in controlling indoor air pollution. For almost a century, health professionals have refuted these claims... Ozone can cause health problems at high concentrations." (the full report).

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