Pest Control News

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Pest Control Vs Public Opinion

Getting the Balance Right: Pest Control Vs Public Opinion

In early June, a local paper picked up a story that had started on social media. A shopper at a supermarket had seen an ‘exterminator’ shoot a fox in a trap set outside the store, in the warehouse section.

With feelings running high around foxes, this was clearly a major blunder for the supermarket. It was also not a great look for the ‘exterminator’, which the client later confirmed was a ‘hired professional pest controller’.

As pest controllers doing our ‘day job’, we probably are guilty of forgetting how people can feel about pest control and the remedies and solutions we use. For the supermarket, they were quoted saying that due to food safety laws, health and safety and a myriad of other legally binding responsibilities, they were taking the right course of action.

It highlights a key area for pest control: balance. On one hand, companies and businesses do have legal obligations and professional pest control is undoubtedly the right move in controlling pests and vermin. But there also needs to be a balance with public perception.
So how do we get this balance?

·      Education – Pests and Legislation

It is a delicate balancing act but a fox in a food storage area is contravening a number of laws and guidelines. From a food hygiene point of view, as consumers, we want to know that our food is safe right through the supply chain.

Most people are aware of food hygiene and other laws etc. that govern businesses, including supermarkets. But as well as refreshing people’s knowledge of guidelines and laws, we also need to make sure that people are aware of how pests are treated.

Again, pest controllers are subject to all kinds of laws, the majority of which (if not all) also apply to the ‘ordinary person on the street’. No one can cause unnecessary suffering to an animal or bird, whether you have pest control qualifications or not.

There are also some methods which are acceptable when dealing with certain pests, foxes included. Foxes, if not relocated, should either be euthanised or shot. Euthanasia can only be carried out by a vet and is considered too expensive as a long-term pest control solution. Therefore, the pest controller was within the law shooting the fox.

·      Discretion

It was a difficult thing for someone to have to witness. And with social media the outlet for airing grievances and the like, it was a natural progression that this story would make it to the public domain in this way.

Shooting the fox in broad daylight and within sight of the public may seem reprehensible and the need for discretion in ALL pest control assignments is essential.

Was this the right action?

The debate over whether this fox should have been shot or not could rage for weeks and months. There is certainly need to look at the situation closely as the supermarket say that they had foxes attempting to gain access to the store for some time. They had to act.

The pest control company brought in to deal with the problem also had to act and according to the law, they acted within it.

But maybe the balance was missing here, maybe the pest controller should have recognised the very public site and changed tack accordingly.

What do you think about pest control actions in this case – right or wrong?