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An expanded partnership between the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services Program should streamline the response to public reports of the occasional wild animal that poses a threat to people, livestock and property. A new nuisance wildlife hotline, 833-345-0315, is available 24 hours a day to provide guidance and assistance.
“In the past, people who called the AGFC or USDA APHIS might be asked to call a different number to handle wildlife complaints, depending upon the species of animal,” Bubba Groves, Farm Bill Liaison in the AGFC’s Private Lands Habitat Division. “Some species like migratory birds and raptors require federal permits and oversight to deal with, while others like deer are handled at the state level. Then there are some animals, like feral hogs that are handled by multiple agencies.”
Although biologists and staff from all agencies involved did their best to provide relief to farmers and landowners experiencing property damage or loss to wildlife once they were contacted, getting to the right person caused unnecessary frustration.
“This new system should fix that,” Robert Byrd, state director for USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, said. “You just need to call one number and any routing after that is handled on our end of things. If state staff need to handle the issue, we’ll send it to the 24-hour radio room at AGFC to get them to get back in contact with you. If it’s a call our people handle, we’ll route it directly to our field staff and contractors.”
Not only will the new system be easier for the public, it should expand the opportunities for all the agencies to work together in combating nuisance wildlife issues.
“We can also share the workload between two agencies rather than one which should reduce our overall workload addressing nuisance animals,” Goves said.
The AGFC and Wildlife Services also note that smaller issues, such as raccoons and rodents getting into trash cans and squirrels invading someone’s attic, likely still will be answered only with some advice on how to handle the situation and possible contact information for services who provide assistance for a fee.
“We simply don’t have the manpower to cover all of those minor instances where the animal does not pose an immediate threat to people, livestock, crops or property,” Groves said. “But we do have a lot of great information and guidance on our website.”
Visit https://www.agfc.com/education/nuisance-wildlife for more information on nuisance wildlife in Arkansas.