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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

To Kill or Not to Kill (AKA: That’s a great question)

When I introduce myself to people who are not in the pest control field, I often say that I’m the consultant to contract killers, helping them kill better and faster. It’s true. I provide pest control companies with science and training to improve their service and do their job more effectively. But what happens when a pest problem needs to be eliminated and people like the pest?

I’ve talked before about what defines a “pest”. Two of Merriam-Webster's definitions are “something detrimental to humans or human concerns” and “a nuisance”. Both of these things apply to my little sister (Happy National Sibling Day tomorrow!) and plenty of insects and other arthropods. There are birds that are considered pests particularly because they are an introduced species. Including this one which is on the threatened list.


Recently, it was determined that an invasive species needed to be culled to protect a native species. Sounds great right? That invasive species they want to remove: it’s an owl. US Fish and Wildlife has a proposal to kill around half a million barred owls. This is to protect the native northern spotted owl.

The USFWS says if no action is taken to cull the barred owl population, the northern spotted owl faces extinction.


A lot of people are very unhappy with this. If this were an insect like the invasive spotted lanternfly, or the infamous “murder” hornets, no one would think twice before posting a bunch of memes all saying: kill it! While I admit the barred owl is a cool looking, extremely beneficial animal, so are Joro spiders and Cuban anoles displacing native species. With the pushback on the USFW plan, people are saying they would rather let the native species go extinct than allow an invasive species to be removed.

This conundrum is yet another reason pest control is so challenging. Everyone loves bats until they are rabid and infesting their attic. Then they are perfectly happy for their pest control professional to do whatever it takes to get rid of them, no matter how beneficial they are. It takes knowledge, experience, and especially communication to deal with pest problems.


If you’ve run into any of these things, invasive species, tricky pest issues, challenging customers, and more, we can make that better for you. Contact us to find out how. In the meantime, where do you fall on this issue, what would you do?


Lagniappe – along with urban pest consulting, I like to have fun too.

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