NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: To kill or not to kill, it’s open to debate

If you have raccoons taking up residence in your attic, or an opossum living under your porch or a coyote terrorizing your outdoor pets, you just want to get rid of them.

When animal control workers capture nuisance wildlife for you, they currently have the option to release them within the same county on land where they have permission to do so.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, however, is proposing a rule that would require “nuisance animal control permit holders” to euthanize any of the three species if caught, instead of having the option to release them. Why? The DNR says the change could help hinder the recurrence of such nuisances and prevent the spread of disease within the animal population.

We think the rule makes good sense. But not everyone agrees. According to news reports, some animal control workers, as well as animal rehabilitators and wildlife groups, believe the rule is inhumane and would reduce animal populations.

“There is no way I can morally look at myself in a mirror knowing I’m slaughtering hundreds of animals a year,” owner of Advanced Pest Control in Indianapolis Michael Meservy told the Bloomington Herald-Times.

“I just can’t kill any baby raccoons. When you look into those sparkling eyes, you just can’t kill them — you would be a monster.”

While such sentiments may seem to favor the welfare of wildlife, animal control specialist Bill Knapp of Kendallville says relocating wildlife is always a bad idea.

Knapp, the founder of Advanced Wildlife & Pest Control, which serves Allen County and several other counties throughout the I-69 corridor, told he hadn’t been aware of the DNR proposal, but said, “I’m all for euthanization.”

Knapp said there are not any good reasons to relocate nuisance wildlife. His arguments match those of the DNR and many others who say relocating animals from one site to another has consequences. If an animal trapped and removed from a residence is infected with a disease, releasing it in an area with even more of the same animals could result in infecting the entire population.

“Euthanizing one animal might save thousands,” Knapp said.

Knapp also said when wild animals are relocated, they don’t know their surroundings or where to find water and may become victims of other predators or become roadkill in their search for a new home.

“A study has shown that 70 percent of relocated animals are dead within three days,” Knapp said. “The No. 1 killer is stress.”

The Natural Resources Commission is accepting public input on the rule proposal until March 23. Indiana residents may share input at two public hearings (March 14 at Spring Mill State Park and March 22 at Mounds State Park) or online at