DC Council Lays Out Bill of Vermin Rights

By Mike Tunison
|  Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009  |  Updated 2:34 PM EDT
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DC Council Lays Out Bill of Vermin Rights

Save the raccoons!

Perhaps the Swedes were a little hasty in giving that Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, whose contributions to peace are dubious at best, while it is the D.C. Council, true champions of justice, that is clearly far more deserving. After all, it is they who are planning on drafting a bill of rights for the animals that lurk in our yards.

Yes, according to The Washington Post, the Council is working in concert with The Humane Society of the United States to ensure that the furry widdle animals that dwell in our neighborhoods are met with lethal tactics "only when public safety is immediately threatened." So apparently you have to make sure they have rabies first.

The new rules wouldn't apply to rats and mice, though exterminators would no longer be allowed to use glue or traps that employ "body gripping" to catch them. And because it's federal land, Rock Creek Park is exempt from the bill, which leaves open whether it would be OK for the government to use lethal force to control the deer population.

What else can we expect?

Under the legislation, a wildlife agent's first goal should be to get the unwanted animal to leave an area before having to resort to trapping it. If trapping is required, the operator would be required to check the trap at least once every 24 hours to make sure trapped animals do not starve.

If an animal needs to be relocated, the trapper should release it within 12 hours. But there is a catch: Trappers should "make every reasonable effort to preserve family units."

That could require trappers to develop "reunion strategies" for a mother and her young.

The panel has issued a 39-page report that outlines which kinds of euthanasia are acceptable for different animals. Wildlife control specialists who violate the standards would have their licenses suspended and could be prosecuted on animal cruelty charges.

If approved, it will be illegal to disturb hibernating bats for the winter. During the summer, a permit will be needed to remove a colony that contains 10 or more adult bats. It will also be illegal to poison pigeons and sparrows.

You mean pigeons get to eat trash and now no longer have the threat of people poisoning them? You got a pretty sweet deal going there, pigeons.

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