For some forms of pests that may take up residence in your home, the available options are pretty straightforward. Something like a cockroach infestation, or a termite colony can only be dealt with in one way; the pests need to be eliminated if you want to keep your home free of them. In other cases, however, more choices are available. Some larger mammalian pests, and even some types of insects may not have to be exterminated to solve a pest problem. Some of them can actually be moved. But how and why would you want to get this done?
One of the most obvious reasons for not wanting to kill pests, but instead remove them when possible is the understanding that pests—as bothersome as they might be—are not actually evil. All organisms are just like humans. They want easy access to food, water, shelter and a safe space to raise a family. They don’t understand property boundaries or laws of possession, and simply act according to opportunities that present themselves.
In other words, pests aren’t thieves, nor are they deliberately trying to provoke anger or fear in humans. Some people, when presented with the choice, would rather not “go to war” with pests and treat them like a hostile invader that needs to be killed. If you don’t have to kill something, why should you?
In some parts of the country, the elimination of rodents may not just be considered unethical, but illegal. In Toronto, Ontario, for example, raccoons, being one of the smartest and most adaptable of mammals, have already enjoyed great success in urban environments. However, even for homeowners in the city that find raccoons have taken residence in their chimney, or are raiding their trash containers, it is illegal to trap or poison these mammals because of their size. Any poison or trap big enough to affect a raccoon can, unfortunately, pose similar threats to cats, dogs and even children.
Because of this, Toronto residents face no choice but to find other means to remove these larger pests, without bringing lethal means into the equation. Edmonton itself has, in recent years, also been experiencing the slow invasion of raccoons, although deer, coyotes, beavers and skunks have been long-time residents of the area.
A Greener Solution
While humane pest removal is obviously a slower, more labour intensive process than simply exterminating what’s there, it’s also ultimately a better long-term solution. Our environment has a delicate balance, and every organism within it occupies a specific role. By reducing the numbers of these organisms, we risk upsetting that balance. When we relocate them, however, we give them a chance to continue playing their part in the ecosystem. It may take a little more effort to operate by these means, but environmentally and ethically, many find it worthwhile.
In the case of honeybees, for example, because of the rapid decline many beekeepers have been experiencing in recent years with their own hives, any “wild” honeybee hive is considered a valuable resource. Destroying a beehive in this case is not the best solution. In fact, some beekeepers will be happy to pay a homeowner to come in and remove the hive and its precious honey producers, bringing them back to their own apiary.
A humane pest removal solution isn’t always a viable choice when it comes to removing an animal threat to a home. But when it is possible, it never hurts to give this method more thought when the time comes to decide how to treat a problem.