Nuisance wildlife management is the term given to the process of selective removal of problem individuals or populations of specific species of wildlife. Other terms for the field, include wildlife damage management, wildlife removal, and animal damage control to name a few. Some species of wildlife may become habituated to man’s presence, causing property damage or risking transfer of disease to humans or pets (zoonosis). Many wildlife species coexist with humans very successfully, such as commensal rodents which have become more or less dependent on humans.
Typically, species that are most likely to be considered a nuisance by humans have the following characteristics. First, they are adaptable to fragmented habitat. Animals such as Canada geese (Branta canadensis) love ponds with low sloping banks leading to lush green grass. Humans love this sort of landscaping too, so it is not surprising that Canada geese have thrived (not to mention the decline in hunting).
Second, these animals are not tied to eating a specific type of food. For example, lynx do not thrive in human impacted environments because they rely so heavily on snowshoe hares. In contrast, raccoons have been very successful in urban landscapes because they can live in attics, chimneys, and even sewers, and can sustain themselves with food gained from trashcans and discarded litter.
Third, successful animals must not pose an obvious significant risk to human health and safety. Animals perceived as grave threats will incur the extreme ire of humans and be under constant threat of humans seeking to eliminate them.
Finally, successful animals in humanized landscapes are often perceived as “cute”, at least until they become so numerous that their preferential status becomes diminished. Many wildlife species have the potential of becoming a “nuisance” species, and whether or not a species is regarded as a pest can be directly correlated with the degree to which that animal can be tolerated by humans. For many people, tree squirrels feeding in their yards or gardens are not a problem; a neighbor may feel that these same squirrels nesting in the attic of their house are a nuisance and a fire hazard, due to their habit of gnawing on electrical cables.