MDC: Missouri Department of Conservation

A state conservation department spokesperson said the best solution to the infestation of wild animals in one Pacific neighborhood is to trap and euthanize the animals.

At the July 18 board meeting, Alderman Carol Johnson reported that skunks, raccoons and opossums are plaguing residents near the wedge of woods between West Osage and Interstate 44 near Holland. She said residents recently trapped 15 skunks in one weekend.

Johnson also said residents are worried about the safety of their pets.

At that meeting, City Administrator Steve Roth said the city would provide traps, accept the trapped animals and release them outside the city, but on Aug. 1 he said there’s still uncertainty about what to do with the trapped animals.

In a telephone interview with The Missourian, Dan Zarlinga, Missouri Conservation Department regional media specialist, said private citizens or cities are permitted to trap nuisance animals.

“If they are causing a nuisance or damage it is OK to trap them,” Zarlinga said.

The individual or entity doing the trapping is then responsible for the animal, he said. Once trapped, the animals should be euthanized — not returned to the wild.

Released animals could cause problems in the area where they are released. More than likely, they will return to the area where they were trapped.

Zarlinga said although neither is pleasant, drowning and poisoning have been used to euthanize nuisance animals, but the most effective way to put the animals down is to shoot them.

“It’s not pleasant,” he said. “But a well-placed bullet is the most merciful thing to the animal and least uncomfortable for the humans.”

In the case of a city like Pacific, where it is unlawful to fire a gun inside the city limits, Zarlinga suggested taking the trapped animals outside the city limits where it is legal to fire a gun.

The most effective long-term method of sending the animals out of a residential neighborhood is to deprive them of food.

The conservation spokesman stressed that residents should remove all outside food in the area the animals are roaming, even bird feed.

“Birds can find plenty of food on their own this time of year,” Zarlinga said. “Hungry animals will go after the bird feed.”

Residents where the wild critters are prowling said one neighbor leaves food outside for the feral cats in the area, which is drawing the wild animals into yards.

Alderman Mike Pigg says feeding the cats should be considered baiting or luring the wild animals into yards, which is illegal. Pigg said the city should take some action to ban leaving food in the open in the area where the wild animals are prowling.

It was reported that some residents are releasing the trapped animals near the city’s sewage lagoon on South Denton Road.

Public Works Commissioner Robert Brueggemann said Henry Alt, a local farmer, reported that the released critters were ravaging cornfields and attacking chickens.

“He doesn’t want them released there,” Brueggemann said.

Roth said he will consult with the conservation department to come up with the most effective method of dealing with the nuisance animals.