As the temperature outside drops, we cozy up inside our nice, warm houses. Unfortunately, so do insects and rodents.  Insects and other pests often will enter a home through an unsealed door, torn screen, crack in the foundation or walls. After entry the pest will inhabit a portion of your home and reproduce. After a pest has infested your home it can be very difficult to exterminate.
As the temperature outside drops, we cozy up inside our nice, warm houses. Unfortunately, so do insects and rodents. Insects and other pests often will enter a home through an unsealed door, torn screen, crack in the foundation or walls. After entry the pest will inhabit a portion of your home and reproduce. After a pest has infested your home it can be very difficult to exterminate.
Whether the invaders are as small as an ant or as big as a family of skunks, your best defense against pests is sealing off their entry points into your fortress. Sealing your house can solve many in home infestations.  To prevent these pest from entering your home specific measures can be taken to seal these entry points.
Whether the invaders are as small as an ant or as big as a family of skunks, your best defense against pests is sealing off their entry points into your fortress. Sealing your house can solve many in home infestations. To prevent these pest from entering your home specific measures can be taken to seal these entry points.
  • do

    • seal up cracks and crevices with sealant
    • screen entry points such as vents that open to exteriors
    • remove window air conditioning units
    • assess exterior lighting situation
    • apply insecticide outdoors around perimeter of building by mid-October
  • don't

    • wait to sweep or vacuum up insects
    • fog your entire home or building
    • fear that insects will reproduce indoors
    • worry about bringing outdoor potted plants indoors
    • forget to seal around external pipes leading into the home

Pest Control Services


Assess Inspection

We will conduct a thorough inspection of your property, bring in state-of-the-art equipment.


Implement Getting the Job Done

We will take care of identified problems and fill out a Pest Control Service Ticket.


Monitor A Year-Round Solution

We will check for new pests while monitoring the status of previous treatments.

Running a hotel comes with many challenges. It can seem like every day something is breaking down or going wrong. Employees call out sick, and you have to jump through hoops to get their slots filled, or you're in search of a new employee and you can't seem to find the right person to fill the position. Technology breaks down and you have to get it fixed quickly to avoid complaints, or you're endlessly researching what upgrades you need to make in order to keep up with the ever-changing technology needs of your guests. You wear a lot of hats and deal with a lot of pressures. The last thing you need is a pest problem. Here are some common pests that frustrate the hotel industry in our Minnesota service area, and what you need to know to get them under control.


Whether you serve food to your guests or not, cockroaches can take root and multiply in your hotel. These insects can compact their bodies and squeeze through tight gaps, scale walls at top speed, and run across ceilings. It is exceptionally hard to keep these resourceful insects out. Even if you seal every hole you can find in your exterior walls, cockroaches can still get in. The best way to fully exclude...

You wouldn’t know it by their size because carpenter ants are fairly small, but they can cause significant damage to your Nisswa home. They are able to damage any type of wood in which they nest, however, these little guys prefer moisture-damaged wood. Carpenter ants build colonies underground and can develop satellite nests as well, which make them difficult to get rid of. They get into homes through foundation cracks, attic vents, or any other crevice they can find. They nest in windows, hollow doors, wall voids and structural lumber. You may never see a carpenter ant as they go about their work, hidden inside the wood, so you may never know they are there until they have done enough damage to be noticed. They can also travel great distances from the colony or nest to forage for food that they can find readily available inside your kitchen and pantry.

Warning signs carpenter ants leave behind:

  • Piles of sawdust, feces, and dead insects beneath wooden items

  • Small exit holes in wood

  • Faint rustling sounds coming from wooden items

  • Large winged ants emerging from ceilings, walls, or other areas

If you see live ants of any kind or any of these signs in and around your home,...

Birds are pretty unique and beautiful creatures most of the time. It can be a lot of fun to watch the birds in flight as they soar through the air alone or in the formation of a V pattern as a flock. It can also be enjoyable to feed pigeons or ducks bread in the park. However, in some locations, birds of any kind can cause a number of problems, especially pigeons.

Pigeons in and around businesses are a serious problem for business owners in Medina. Pigeon droppings can be wet and slippery, and not only are the droppings disgusting to walk on, but their droppings can be extremely hazardous. The slippery surface will increase the probability of fall, which can potentially cause personal injury. It can also make a business appear very unattractive and tarnish its reputation. Not only that, pigeons can carry disease and transmit them to humans that result in harmful illnesses. They can also carry ticks, fleas, and mites that can also be harmful to humans. On occasion, birds have been known to cause damage to equipment by flying into air vents or other machinery, causing the machinery to break or malfunction, which can be very costly. All of these problems are not worth the risk of...

The first question is what are chiggers? Chiggers are the larvae of mites and are closely related to ticks. Chiggers can be found living in areas of moisture and vegetation across the world, including in Edina, Minnesota. Now, on to the second question; should you be concerned with chiggers? The answer to this question, unfortunately, is yes. Chiggers are parasitic pests that affect humans and can be very frustrating, but with the help of the Edina pest professionals at Adam’s Pest Control, you will learn more about chiggers and how to help prevent them from becoming a problem for you and your family.

Chiggers are tiny pests and are just about invisible to the naked eye. They are usually red in color, although some can be orange or yellowish. Chiggers are typically found living outside in areas of dense vegetation, in gardens, in wooded areas, and in the grasses found next to rivers, lakes, and ponds. The problem with chiggers begins when a person is walking through an infested area and come into contact with them. Once on your clothing, the chiggers will migrate to an area of skin. They can usually be found congregating behind knees, in armpits, around ankle areas, and in the...

A beautiful home and a beautiful lawn go together, that's why we work so hard to keep our lawns looking healthy and green. But it takes a lot of work to get that envied front-lawn look: hedge trimming, lawn mowing, mulch laying, flower planting, and more. And after all that hard work your lawn will be the envy of all your neighbors, so it is worth it, right? Well, nothing can ruin that work faster than voles and moles. There is nothing quite as frustrating as waking up to find dead brown veins running through your turfgrass or raised tunneling and dirt mounds.

What Are Voles?

A vole is a rodent that can be found throughout Eurasia and North America. It is usually brown or grey and ranges from 4 to 8 inches in length, depending on the species. It has a round snout and rat-like tail. Though it can burrow, it mostly travels above ground.

What Are Moles?

A mole is a burrowing mammal with a pointed snout, sharp claws, and short, hairless tail. It has a velvety coat that is usually gray. It prefers to be underground and loves the dark--but is not born blind as many people believe. It has the ability to see, though not very well.

What Damage Do Voles And Moles Do?

Both of these...

Carpenter ants are pests that are attracted to damp wood in your home. They burrow into your wood supports and beams to make their homes, which can cause damage to the structural integrity of your home. While in the grip of winter we are unlikely to have a run-in with carpenter ants, however, spring is just around the corner. Now is the time to take precautions to prevent the damage an infestation of carpenter ants can cause.

Carpenter ants are most active in the spring. They reproduce and thrive in warmer environments, building their nests in damp wood wherever they can find it. They can build their nests both indoors or outdoors, and typically have a main nest outdoors with satellite nests nearby. It can be hard at times to tell if there is a nest indoors or if carpenter ants have just entered a building looking for sugars or protein to feed on. Seeing them inside doesn’t necessarily indicate that there is an infestation or nest.

The exception would be if you see carpenter ants active indoors in the winter. This almost always means that there is a nest inside and that the conditions – warmth and dampness, were favorable for them to come out of dormancy. Seeing lots of winged...

While most homeowners have some knowledge about termites—usually through word-of-mouth—the majority of them actually have no clue just how hazardous termites can be. This is why pest control companies from across the United States team up with the National Pest Management Association for a whole week to focus on spreading awareness about termites. Termite Awareness Week’s aim is to inform homeowners on the detrimental damages that termites can cause to a home. It also acts as a way to teach consumers about the risk factors for a termite infestation and what to do to prevent one. While rare in Minnesota (compared to other parts of the United States), termite activity has been documented more frequently in several areas. If termites get a chance to infest your home, they won’t hesitate.

Termites might be small, but they are capable of causing homeowners big problems. Termites eat wood—preferably wood that has been previously damaged by water. They will feed on the wood until the point where it is essentially hollow. If this happens to the structural wood found in your home, it weakens the entire structure of your house and makes your home unsafe to live in. These repairs are not...

Ever heard of a powder post beetle? Sounds like a strange name for an insect, that’s for sure. And, when it comes to wood-destroying pests, termites and carpenter ants get all of the credit, but these strange little powder post beetles can also do quite a bit of harm as well. 

Powder post beetles are wood destroying pests, and get their name from the fine “powder” that they create while they bore into wood products. The “powder” is called frass, and it is a combination of their feces and the sawdust that they leave behind. There are three different types, some of which feed on dead and dried hardwood, others aren’t discriminatory and will feed on both hard and soft woods. In any case, no wood is safe when powder post beetles are around. Each type is slightly different looking, but will be a reddish-brown to black and around 1/8" to 3/8” long. They have cylindrical bodies with antennae. The larvae are a creamy white c shape and measure 1/8” or a little larger. The only sign of these beetles you may see if you have an infestation is the adults emerging from the wood through multiple small circular exit holes. 

It is actually in their larval stage that powder post beetles can do...

When you have flies flying around your house, you could probably care less about what type of fly it is. It's helpful to know, however, that there are big differences between the two most common flies that invade your home, and we are here to explain them.

House flies are gray with two distinct stripes on their face, large red eyes, and spongy mouthparts. The adult house fly varies in size from 1/8 to a 1/4 inch, whereas the larvae or maggots range from 1/4 to 3/8 inch. Maggots are cream colored and look like fat short corrugated worms with one tapered end. House flies in any form are disgusting, as they feed and breed in rotten food and garbage. They thrive in unsanitary conditions and are carriers of disease organisms. They are known to be responsible for salmonella, E. coli, and food poisoning. These flies get inside homes through torn screens, cracks in window and door frames, and crevices in walls and foundations. They can be hard to get rid of, and can be a problem throughout the year if given the chance to settle in and lay eggs.

Fruit flies are tiny beige flies with black rings, possess red or dark eyes, and are about a 1/8 inch plus or minus depending on the type....

We’re given warnings all the time in our every day lives about this or that, and from this source or that source, and we’ve gotten to be experts at ignoring those warnings. We see our check engine light come on and dismiss it as a loose gas cap. We hear a rattle in the furnace and close our eyes and write it off to the pipes expanding. But there are some warning signs we should never ignore, including those tell-tale signs that bed bugs leave behind.

Bed bugs are really good at hiding and avoiding detection but there are several noticeable warning signs that you may have bed bugs:

  1. Often the first signs we see of bed bugs are bites and welts on our skin. However, bites don’t always mean bed bugs as many insect bites, including mosquitoes, look similar to bed bug bites. If you do see bites take it as a warning and look for other signs of bed bugs. 

  2. Small brown spots or stains on a mattress can indicate that bed bugs have been feasting on a human victim and have left blood stains or their feces behind.  

  3. Bed bugs also go through stages of growth and shed their exoskeleton multiple times. You might find the discarded skins in the corners or seams of your mattress, behind the...

As soon as the weather starts to turn cold, you can bet that woodland critters, including mice, will start looking for a cozy place to call home for the winter. Unfortunately, that home might already be occupied – by you! Mice are considered cute by some, but they can cause a myriad of structural and health problems if they take up residence in your home. Even if you wish you had one for a pet, you don’t want mice living in your walls, attic or cabinets spreading disease and making a mess.

When mice enter your home, it’s usually for two reasons: to seek shelter and to find food. They can squeeze into the tiniest of places and look for secluded areas to build their nests and hide. Mice chew through materials such as cardboard, wood, particle board, insulation, and even wires as well as through food containers. They leave their droppings wherever they go, thus contaminating the areas they inhabit. Mice and mice droppings can carry diseases that are harmful to humans.

Many times the first indication that you have a mouse problem is by spotting their droppings. Mouse droppings are usually around the size of a broken pencil tip but can be tiny like a poppy seed if you have baby mice...

One thing you probably already know is how creepy centipedes are. They look like they came straight out of a horror movie! However, did you know:

  1. Centipedes do not have 100 legs even though their name means “one hundred legs”. They can up to 171 pairs of legs down to as few as 15 pairs, of which are always an odd number of pairs. Each pair of legs is attached to its own body segment, unlike millipedes that have 2 pairs of legs per segment. Centipedes first set of legs are used to paralyze their prey by injecting them with venom.

  2. Centipedes are predators. They will catch other insects, mollusks, annelids, and even others of their own type. Tropical species of centipede are larger and can consume small birds and frogs. In any case, centipedes wrap themselves around their prey, inject venom to subdue them, then consume them.

  3. Centipedes are able to live for many years, usually 2-3, but can live longer than 5. They are extremely hardy and can grow and molt continuously throughout their life. They are known to regenerate legs in case they need to escape a predator by giving up a few legs in the process.

  4. Centipedes are built for speed. They can outrun most predators, and move...

The first question we would like to answer about earwigs is: "What are earwigs?" Well, earwigs are those creepy looking elongated insects that like to hang out in moist areas of a home. They are beetle-like, fast-moving creatures which are about 1/2 to 1 inch in length and dark brown in color. They have 2 antennae, 6 legs, 3 body parts and, at the end of their abdomens, a set of formidable looking pincers. They also have a set of membranous wings that are folded underneath a pair of forewings.

The second glaring question many people ask about earwigs is, "Do they really crawl into people's ears and lay eggs?" The answer to this question is a resounding, no. Earwigs do not do this. Neither do they burrow into people's brains, become attached, and eventually drive their host to madness and/or death. While it IS possible for an earwig to crawl into a person's ear, and, doubtless, this has happened from time to time, they are otherwise harmless to humans.

Another common earwig question that we hear is, "Can earwigs fly?" Again, the answer to this one is no. Earwigs can't fly, any more than pigs can. But they are capable of crawling anywhere they need to go and, if they get into...

If you own a restaurant, we don't need to explain the benefits of commercial pest control. When cockroaches, rodents, flies, and other illness-spreading pests plague a restaurant, they do more than scare customers away, they can lead to failed health inspections and a closure of a business. If you own or manage a store that has groceries, we don't have to tell you how important insect light traps are. You know they are the frontline defense against flies. But pest control isn't always so obvious. There are many subtle ways a business can benefit from ongoing commercial pest control. Here are few examples.

Customer Retention

When pests appear, customers take notice. There are many ways pests can impact your customers. Some are as obvious as the examples above. When a cockroach runs across a table in a retail store, it is going to reduce the satisfaction of any customer who sees it. When bed bugs are found in a daycare, parents are going to be quick to take their children out. But some pest issues are subtle. If you have birds nesting on your ledges and leaving droppings on your property, it could be enough to drive some customers away.

Fewer Bad Reviews

We live in an age of...

When we think of fruit flies, we picture harmless little insects that gather and circle around ripe fruit. They are a complete nuisance to humans as they hover over items that are left out, like fruit and vegetable bowls, juice cups, damp mops, and trash cans. Outside fruit flies are found around compost piles, decaying gardens, and garbage sources. They can be a year-round problem but are most common in summer and fall. The reason they can stick around all year is that they can breed inside drains where they reproduce rapidly and in huge numbers.

Are these tiny little insects any more than a nuisance? Actually, they are more than a simple annoyance. There are hidden dangers that most people are unaware of, that make these tiny little fruit flies a human health hazard. Dangerous bacteria and other germs can stick to their hairy bodies, that can get on our food or hands and spread illnesses that cause health problems, especially diarrhea.

In order to prevent illness from fruit flies, you should wash your hands after coming into contact with fruit flies. We also suggest that you don’t swat at them or try to kill them with your hands. In addition, if fruits and vegetables have...

Bed bugs are hitchhiking bugs. They move from one place of infestation to the next by laying their eggs in the items we carry, or by climbing into those items. This makes them impossible to keep out of a home because they act like a Trojan horse, crossing the barrier made by standard pest control services. A bed bug heat chamber is a pest control measure that targets bed bugs and works to prevent infestations from taking root.

As you are probably aware, heat kills bed bugs. It is most often used as a treatment option after bed bugs are discovered. Portable heat units are brought into a residence or business and used to raise the temperature of the structure to a constant level of heat that is enough to exterminate bed bugs. This is a highly effective and completely eco-friendly method for arresting bed bug infestations. But it doesn't stop bed bugs "before" they infest.

Since bed bugs travel in the items we carry, treating "suspected" items before they are brought into our homes or businesses is the only way to prevent a bed bug infestation from taking root. While other pest control companies do routine inspections to catch infestations before they grow, we've gone one step...

Do you have household pests that keep appearing? Do overwintering pests crawl in your curtains in the fall and winter? Are rodents leaving droppings in the backs of your drawers and cabinets every now and then? Is the occasional cockroach something you've been living with? No home is better with pests. Bugs and rodents aren't just annoying, they can damage your belongings, eat away at the equity in your home, bite, sting, and make you sick. But, you don't have to live with them. Here's how you can get pest-free in the new year.


The secret to having a pest-free home is creating the conditions outside your home that reduce the chances that bugs, rodents, and other animals will get in.

  • If you have fewer pests next to your home, you'll have fewer pests exploring your home for entry points to exploit.

  • Moisture lures many bugs in close to your exterior walls. Fix gutters, leaky spigots, compacted soil, excessive shade, and other conditions that let water collect.

  • Many insects are attracted to light. Drawing your curtains at night and keeping your exterior lights off, will reduce insects.

  • Reducing one pest helps to reduce others. For example: when you have fewer...

With the cold season upon us, a growing number of pests are frantically looking to survive, which means seeking out shelter, food, and water. As a result, homeowners are under invasion as these winter pests make their way indoors. The most common winter invaders are mice, rats, spiders, and stink bugs.

Mice - A mouse can act like a contortionist, squeezing and bending their bodies to get into houses through openings as small as 1/4 of an inch. Once inside mice reproduce quickly, and before you know it - your house can be overrun with mice. Not only are they destructive to property, building nests and chewing on wood and furniture, but mice present a health hazard through their bites, urine, and feces.

Rats - Slightly larger than the common house mouse, rats are rodents that destroy property by chewing electrical wires and building nests in walls and under appliances and leave a trail of potentially hazardous excrement. Both mice and rats thrive in the many nooks and unused spaces a house offers for nesting.

Spiders - While spiders are often thought of as beneficial pests because they eat other household pests, most people don’t want to share their homes with a bunch of creepy,...

If boxelder bugs are visiting your property, you're likely to notice it. These bugs come by the hundreds, and even thousands. When they do, they cling to walls, congregate on sills, and cover screens. And, when they get inside, it is even more noticeable. Let's take a look at these bugs up close and personal and discuss ways you can deal with them.

What do boxelder bugs look like?

The boxelder bug is a flat, elongate-oval shape with six legs, two long antennae, and wings. An adult is a mixture of black and reddish coloration. An immature nymph has more red in its color. These insects grow to be around 1/2 an inch in length.

What threat are boxelder bugs?

When boxelder bugs get into a home they can use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to puncture the skin and leave red bumps. They can also stain drapes, curtains, tapestries, upholstered furniture, clothing, and other fabrics with their reddish-orange droppings.

Why are boxelder bugs trying to get in?

These insects feed on the developing seeds of boxelder trees. If you have these trees in your yard, it is likely that you'll have boxelder bugs. They are also known to feed on various plants, maple trees, ash trees, and fruit. But...

Christmas dinner with family and friends is coming quickly upon us. All of the planning, cooking, baking, and organizing that goes into making it the best Christmas dinner ever can be exhausting. You want everything to go smoothly, and you haven’t seen any cockroaches in your home for awhile, but what if someone sees a cockroach scurrying across the table or worse the kitchen counter? Well, it could happen and that would ruin the wonderful Christmas dinner entirely. Cockroaches are the most despicable insect out there, not only are they creepy, but they are extremely unsanitary. They can potentially carry bacteria and viruses on their bodies as well as in their feces. These bacteria and viruses can cause some serious health problems as well as diarrhea and dysentery. Elderly people and young children are especially at risk for asthma problems due to cockroaches shed skin and dried feces.

In order to prevent these nasty bugs from ruining your holiday gatherings, you will need to uninvite them to your Christmas dinner by making your home inaccessible and unattractive to them.

  • Seal up possible entryways by filling in cracks in your exterior walls and foundation

  • Reinforce seals...

Now that the temperature has started to drop, many people will turn their attention away from pests like mosquitoes and termites. Their focus will be on other pests like mice and other winter pests and the problems that they pose as they enter homes for the colder months. In all likelihood, it is probably safe to say you can put down your guard for mosquitoes. Termites, on the other hand, are quite a different story.

Termites can remain active during the winter months by going deeper underground or inside your temperature controlled home when it is cold outside. Their tunnels will be dug deeper into the ground to forage for food sources, and some may forage closer to their nesting areas. In any event, they will remain somewhat active by accessing warmth near or inside homes where they have access to food and moisture. Termite egg production will become less and you won’t see any swarming during those cold months either. However, if termites are present in your home, they still can do some damage.

Here are some warning signs that termites are active and living in your home:

  • Discolored drywall that may be droopy, this may include paint that is peeling that may look like water...

State wildlife agencies, under the auspices of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, are developing "Best Management Practices" (BMPs) for trapping furbearers in the United States as a way to evaluate and improve animal welfare, identify efficient tools and techniques, and develop recommendations for conservation professionals to consider as an element of their wildlife management programs. Regulated trapping is a necessary and effective wildlife management tool, and wildlife professionals across the country believe that trapping BMPs will ensure the continued improvement of this management technique.

Biologists began the process of developing trapping BMPs by reviewing past scientific literature to determine what research had already been done and to develop priorities for the program. The trap testing needs for twenty-three species of furbearers were assessed. Criteria considered for species prioritization included: 1) the type and proportion of trapping systems predominantly used; 2) the total harvest in this country; 3) the importance to the trapper; 4) the amount and type of economic damage caused; 5) the urgency and opportunity for additional work from the biologists' perspective; and 6) the availability and quality of data from past research programs.

Traps are selected for evaluation by state wildlife agency biologists based on their knowledge of the technique and using data from a survey conducted by IAFWA in 1992 that documents the ownership and use of traps by trappers in the United States. We also invite trappers to recommend traps and modifications for evaluation. Trappers are often aware of new models on the market, many of which are specifically intended to improve animal welfare and may not be widely available but are promising designs for trapping BMPs. Scientists from the USDA National Wildlife Research Center are also involved with this program.

Projects investigating the performance of various capture devices in field settings began in the fall of 1997. The field projects are conducted by licensed, experienced trappers during state-regulated trapping seasons. Trained technicians are assigned to accompany each trapper and record trap line data under guidance of state agency biologists and IAFWA staff. All trappers and technicians must attend mandatory training sessions and abide by clearly defined study procedures.

Two veterinary laboratories in the U.S. with extensive experience in evaluating capture devices conduct full-body necropsies in order to discover which of the restraining traps do the best job of reducing injuries to animals. The data collected from the veterinarians and from the field-work are consistent with international standards for trap evaluation.

Canada is also conducting trap evaluations and we are working cooperatively with them to share information. Much of the research into humane killing traps has been conducted at a uniquely equipped, state-of-the-art Canadian research facility. BMPs will include recommendations for the use of humane killing traps for those species and under those conditions where reasonable and prudent.

Results from these projects will be used in conjunction with existing data to develop trapping BMPs based on performance criteria for animal welfare, efficiency, selectivity, safety and practicality. 

The Case of Nutria (Myocastor coypus) in Louisiana

Nutria (Myocastor coypus)

Louisiana’s marshes are under siege from a 12-pound rodent with a huge appetite. The Mississippi River delta’s marshes are the largest wetland complex in the United States and are literally being eaten away by an animal called nutria.

At first glance, nutria seem innocuous. These semi-aquatic rodents have glistening fur and are a little smaller than a beaver. Sometimes they may even be mistaken for beaver as the glide along with their heads barely above the water’s surface. They are agile swimmers. Yet despite all appearances, nutria are a big problem around the world and especially in Louisiana.

Native to coastal and lake marshes of Argentina, they seem to live in harmony with their environment. Their population levels fluctuate with periods of drought and flood. However, they are adapted to quickly repopulate their habitats following a natural disaster. What happens, though, when nutria populate an area that does not have frequent cycles of flood and drought? In many cases, nutria can cause significant environmental and economic problems.

In Louisiana, nutria inhabit the freshwater and partly salty, brackish, marshes along the Mississippi River delta. Like all wetlands, these marshes are incredibly productive and critical to the life cycle of innumerable species.

15 million water birds, 5 million wintering waterfowl, more than a million alligators, and 11 threatened and endangered species; Nearly every commercially important fishery in the Gulf of Mexico is linked to this wetland complex including shrimp and crabs.

This aerial photograph shows an "eat out." The brown areas of the marsh have been damaged by nutria. In the center, as indicated by the arrow, is an area that has been fenced off to exclude the nutria.

Nutria are a significant threat to this ecosystem because they reproduce very quickly and when they feed in an area they may eat the vegetation to the roots exposing the fragile wetland soils, and they are born as eating machines, virtually miniature versions of an adult, ready to feed within hours of birth. As tides ebb and wane, the flowing water erodes the soils where the nutria have eaten away the grasses, and the soils are pulled into the Gulf of Mexico. Once the soils are gone, the plants cannot re-grow.

Captive nutria were first introduced to the marshes of Louisiana in 1937 when 13 escaped from a captive nutria colony owned by L.E. McIlhenny, a renowned conservationist and founder of the Tabasco Company. In 1940 approximately 150 more nutria escaped captivity during a hurricane. McIlhenny was reportedly sad at his loss because he believed that the nutria would perish as prey to the alligators, but the nutria proved him wrong.

What McIlhenny did not take into account was the amazing reproductive abilities of the nutria. They are prolific animals. Typically, nutria begin to reproduce when they are between four to six months old, and they have more than two litters each year. With typical nutria litters exceeding four young, each female nutria may have an average of more than 10 young annually.

By 1956, nutria harvest reached 419,000, this in less than 20 years since nutria were first introduced to Louisiana, and the nutria populations were continuing to grow. Farmers were complaining about nutria damage to rice and sugarcane fields, and muskrat trappers worried that nutria were responsible for declining muskrat populations.

In the early 1960s Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries needed to find a solution to the crop and habitat problems caused by nutria. Because nutria populations grew faster than the predators could eat the nutria, they felt that encouraging trapping was the best alternative to solving nutria problems. Trappers however, are motivated by the price of fur - the more the fur was worth the more trappers would pursue nutria. The LDWF set out to create a market for nutria.

By 1962 LDWF had established a market when more than a million nutria pelts were sold into the German fur trade. As prices for nutria fur continued to rise through the 1970’s, trappers continued to trap nutria, averaging 1.5 million pelts a year and generating an average 8.1 million dollars annually.

From the early 1960s until the early 1980s high fur prices were the driving force behind high harvest levels. Throughout this period, nutria problems were virtually nonexistent. There were very few crop damage reports and the nutria were not significantly harming the wetland habitats.

Everything changed during the 1981-82 trapping season. Prices for nutria fur fell by nearly half from $8.19 to $4.36. By the end of 1993, the market bottomed at only $2.64 for each pelt. Trappers lost their incentive to pursue nutria, and the mid-1980s harvest declined to less than 300,000.

Nutria populations exploded without the trapping pressure. Following 28 years of profitable trapping and few complaints from the agricultural community, 1987 marked renewed concern over nutria damage as farmers again experienced crop losses. Scientists became alarmed by the wetland habitat problems caused by nutria.

A closer look at the fenced area shows the plants are much taller and healthier inside, away from the nutria.

In 1993 scientists began to survey the damage that nutria were causing to Louisiana wetlands. By flying over the wetlands, the scientists could measure the land area (acreage) of nutria damage. By 1998 scientists estimated the damaged wetlands exceeded 100,000 acres in Louisiana. More alarming is that this estimate is probably only a fraction of the actual area impacted by nutria because only the most affected areas are detected during the surveys.

Louisiana’s marshes cover more than 2.5 million acres, an area larger than Yellowstone National Park. Historically, trappers and their families disperse into the marsh for months at a time in search of nutria, and there may be thousands of trappers covering the expansive marsh complex when fur prices are high. When fur prices are low, trappers cannot make enough money to justify the difficulties of trapping the extensive Louisiana marshlands.

Biologist Greg Linscombe of the LDWF says that when nutria harvest exceeded one million animals per year, habitat and crop damage were eliminated. However, trappers will not seek nutria unless they can make a profit.

Low fur prices necessitate an alternative market. The LDWF hopes that nutria will be valued for their meat as well as fur. As the market for nutria meat grows trappers will again seek nutria, and as harvest increases wildlife biologists expect that habitat and crop damage will decrease.

In 1986 the Louisiana Legislature created the Louisiana Fur and Alligator Advisory Council, and this group continues to work on creating and enhancing international markets for Louisiana nutria fur and meat. By enhancing the markets, they hope that they can increase the trappers’ profits.

The Advisory Council has spent more than 800,000 dollars using funds from trappers’ licenses and other sources to work on the market enhancement activities. Harvest rates are now the highest since 1989 with the annual harvest in excess of 350,000 nutria. But this still falls short of the million animals that must be harvested to eliminate habitat and crop damage.

Trapping nutria is vital to protecting Louisiana wetlands. It is the only protection for a river of life that flows from the Mississippi delta to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Story of the North American River Otter (Lutra canadensis)

The River Otter! What an interesting animal. No wonder they are the center of so much attention. Otters were largely absent from a big part of mid-America by the 1900s, due to more than 200 years of unregulated harvest and habitat changes. Thanks to a partnership between trappers and wildlife managers, we can once again kiss these babies hello, because we are in the middle of an unbelievable river otter comeback! Nearly 4,000 healthy otters have been trapped and moved to new homes in 18 states in one of the most successful predator restoration programs ever.

Sixty years after most state agencies began the art and science of modern wildlife management, the long list of wildlife restoration success stories now includes river otters. The task began back in 1976 when Colorado biologists moved a few wild-trapped otters from Minnesota. Then they discovered a Cajun from Louisiana named Lee Roy Sevin and his wife Diane. The Sevins have an unusual business – buying live river otters caught with foothold traps in the surrounding marshes, where otters are abundant. They keep the pregnant females in captivity just long enough for them to give birth to a litter of pups in the spring, and then release the adults back into the marsh while hand-rearing the otter pups for zoos.

Beginning in the 1980's, wildlife managers set plans in motion to bring the adult, wild-trapped otters to Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, and other states where otters once existed, to be released into new homes to restore populations. The first releases included otters with radio transmitters that allowed us to monitor their success in their new homes. They did extremely well, and we set about our business to restore otters throughout the waterways of the Midwest, the Northeast, and the Mid-Atlantic states. Not all otters used in the restoration efforts came from Louisiana; many eastern states are trapping and moving their own otters from areas where they occur to areas where they are absent. However, thanks to their efforts, Lee Roy and Diane are known as the Godparents of otter restoration in the United States, having shipped more than 2,400 otters to different states for restoration programs!

In almost every state, even dusty Arizona, these programs have met with tremendous success, and have been wildly popular with the public. As an example, Missouri’s otter population is now estimated at more than 8,500 and growing, and a carefully regulated trapping season is now possible. Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, and other states with large otter restoration projects consider them to have been huge successes and otters are no longer endangered in most of these states. For the remainder of the states, success stories are just a matter of time.

River otters are not federally endangered, although in a handful of states they may still have a state-endangered status until the restoration programs are complete. One confusing aspect of the river otter’s status stems from its listing on the Convention for International Trade of Endangered Species, known as CITES. This treaty listed North American river otters on Appendix II simply because they look somewhat like otters from other continents that may be endangered. Pelts of abundant river otters could become confused with pelts of endangered otters from other continents if trade was not carefully regulated. So we tag every single otter from the United States that enters the international fur trade with a small CITES export tag, and that helps to ensure protection for other otters around the world. A CITES tag on fur pelts traded internationally indicates that the pelt comes from animals whose populations are not endangered, but are abundant and being carefully monitored and scientifically managed. Properly regulated trapping seasons such as we have now in 29 states are no threat to river otter populations. Otter populations are believed to be either growing or stable in 46 out of the 47 states where they are currently known to exist!

Importantly, virtually every otter used in these restoration programs was captured in the wild by people using foothold traps. These animals had to be healthy to have led to the successes we’ve witnessed. These are the same traps used by licensed trappers to capture wildlife!

The Prohibition of Regulated Trapping Beaver activity washed out this road.

Chelmsford, Massachusetts is located about 20 miles northwest of the city of Boston and encompasses approximately 23 square miles. The first European settlement in the area was a fur trading post, established due to the abundance of beaver in the local wetlands. Today there are still approximately 870 acres of wetlands within the town, but it is now a densely settled suburban community with over 32,000 residents (1,357 per square mile). Local government is conducted through open town meetings and administered by five elected selectmen.

During the late 1980s, a national animal rights group developed a "model" for getting trapping ban initiatives passed by town, county and sate governments. The model guidelines encouraged animal rights activists to disguise regulated trapping as a public safety/animal welfare issue. Exactly in accordance with such direction, an article to ban trapping was introduced at a Chelmsford town meeting in 1988.

State wildlife experts reminded residents that regulated trapping was not a public safety issue, and warned that if regulated trapping were banned, there would be numerous undesirable consequences in the form of property damage and wildlife habitat degradation. Despite the warnings, the article was passed, and the trapping of furbearing mammals within the town was prohibited.

Prior to passage of the trapping ban, there were usually one to three complaints of beaver damage in the town each year. Following the ban, the beaver population, unchecked, began to grow rapidly, and the animals began to move into many previously unoccupied wetlands. Beaver dams began to flood houses and roadways. In 1992, state wildlife biologists working at the request of town officials investigated 25 beaver complaint sites. Two of these complaint sites were municipal wells which had been shut down (at a cost of $25,000) because of beaver flooding, and four other municipal wells were threatened. Individual landowners in town had incurred tens of thousands of dollars in damages to private wells, septic systems, lawns and roadways. The increasing beaver population and increasing property damage were directly related to the decision of the town's citizens to ban regulated trapping and allow uncontrolled beaver population growth to commence.

State wildlife officials offered the town several recommendations: (1) use water flow devices to reduce flooding in some areas, (2) get permits to breach beaver dams in other locations, and (3) rescind the trapping ban bylaw to allow beaver populations to be brought under control. The town took positive steps to implement these recommendations. The state issued permits to breach beaver dams that were disabling wells and septic systems. State wildlife personnel installed water flow devices (beaver pipes) at two sites and assisted town water department personnel with a third pipe. At a special town meeting in September, 1992, town citizens voted by a two-to-one margin to allow regulated public trapping to resume. During the regular trapping season later that fall and winter, four fur harvesters working with homeowners and town officials removed 87 beaver. Today, with public, regulated trapping restored, Chelmsford again has only one to three beaver complaints per year. These are handled as they had been prior to 1988, under an effective and responsible program incorporating state wildlife officials and local fur harvesters.

In Massachusetts, the state wildlife agency has a well developed management plan for beaver. The goals of this plan are to manage beaver resources as assets, not liabilities; perpetuate beaver populations for future generations; keep the beaver population at levels compatible with suitable habitat; minimize property damage caused by beaver; manage beaver for their positive wetland values, and allow people the sustainable use of public resources.

Chelmsford residents were confounded by animal rights activists who had promised in 1988 and again in 1992 to install water flow devices and proposed to "sterilize" beaver in the town (a technique that is not feasible on a free-roaming beaver population,) Over the four years of the trapping ban, the activists never acted on their promises and were never held accountable for the statements they put forth.

The case study you just read was written several years ago. Recently, the state of Massachusetts passed a ballot initiative that severely restricts trapping. As a result, complaints about property damage and health concerns related to beaver activity have dramatically increased. We have asked a biologist from the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Wildlife to give us an update about the situation. 

Epilogue - A State Ballot Referendum
Submitted by Susan Langlois – Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
7 July 1999

Subsequent to the town of Chelmsford reinstating regulated trapping as a management tool to control the beaver population, changes to Massachusetts state law ensued during the November 5, 1996 election. A major political ad campaign was undertaken by several animal rights organizations which spent $1.2 million in a statewide ballot referendum. As a result, a statewide change to Massachusetts law created restrictions similar to the Chelmsford anti- trapping bylaw. The new law dramatically changed the types of traps that licensed trappers could lawfully use to control beaver populations statewide.

The net effect of the new law maximizes the number of beavers found in Massachusetts. A maximized beaver population significantly increases property damage, health and safety issues and other beaver related problems incurred by citizens. Now the same conditions that were evident in Chelmsford during their trapping ban have expanded throughout the state. The statewide beaver population has grown significantly from an estimated 24,000 in 1996 to more than 52,000 in 1999. Citizen complaints related to beaver activity continue to increase from an average of 310 per year (1991-96) to 585 per year since the law came into effect.

Beaver populations can no longer be maintained at reduced levels. This constitutes a major change in the way beaver are managed. The state’s beaver management program has historically been proactive – maintaining the beaver population at levels compatible with suitable wetland habitat and human needs. The new law eliminates proactive, regulated management, yielding an uncontrolled expansion of the beaver population. Like the previous Chelmsford bylaw, it only allows the citizens of Massachusetts to take reactive measures to beaver causing property damage. Instead of viewing beaver as valuable wildlife, more and more people are viewing beaver as a pest to be eliminated.

Due to the increase in the beaver population and the related increase in health and safety concerns and property damage, two bills have been introduced into the Massachusetts Legislature to repeal or significantly amend the existing statewide law. In addition, legislation has been submitted to appropriate $1.5 million to begin to pay for the property damage caused by increasing beaver populations. The appropriation of monies was not needed in the past when proactive management programs employed regulated trapping to control beaver populations and address property damage problems. To date, the statewide ban on traps continues.