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SubjectsLegalNuisances › Wildlife, Wild Animal Nuisances
Updated 09/2013

Wildlife, Wild Animal Nuisances


About Wildlife

This page addresses problems posed by pigeons, geese, and other fowl, and animals such as coyotes, deer, bear opossums, and skunks. Some interaction with wildlife is regulated by the federal and state governments. Wildlife species classified as threatened or endangered in Washington are listed in WAC 232-12-011 and WAC 232-12-014. Most of the state regulations governing wildlife are found in Title 77 RCW.



Geese, Ducks, and Other Waterfowl

A number of municipalities have created regulatory provisions regarding the feeding of wild geese. Most ordinance provisions address the feeding of birds and other animals on public, usually park, property, to control their numbers and reduce property damage and health hazards.

Canada Geese

Canada geese are considered a "migratory" species and are federally protected under four bilateral migratory bird treaties. Regulations allowing the take of migratory birds are authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (16 U.S.C. §§ 703-711), which implements the four treaties. The Act provides that, subject to the treaties, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized to determine when, to what extent, and by what means it is compatible with the conventions to allow hunting, killing, and other forms of taking of migratory birds, their nests, and eggs. The Act requires the Secretary to implement a determination by adopting regulations permitting and governing those activities.

In recent years, numbers of Canada geese have undergone dramatic growth to population levels that are increasingly coming into conflict with people and causing personal and public property damage. The Fish and Wildlife Service believes that resident Canada goose populations must be reduced, more effectively managed, and controlled to reduce goose-related damages. New rules went into effect on September 11, 2006 that authorize state wildlife agencies, private landowners, and airports to conduct (or allow) indirect and/or direct population control management activities, including the take of birds, on resident Canada goose populations.

Pigeons and Other Roosting Birds

Pigeon control can be controversial, especially if the local government chooses an approach that involves killing. A number of cities regulate the number of pigeons a person can maintain. From a health view, pigeons can carry infectious diseases, though the incidence is low. There are state laws relating to certain types of pigeons - Antwerp Messenger or Racing Pigeon:

  • RCW 9.61.190 - It is a class 1 civil infraction for any person, other than the owner thereof or his authorized agent, to knowingly shoot, kill, maim, injure, molest, entrap, or detain any Antwerp Messenger or Racing Pigeon, commonly called "carrier or racing pigeons", having the name of its owner stamped upon its wing or tail or bearing upon its leg a band or ring with the name or initials of the owner or an identification or registration number stamped thereon.
  • RCW 9.61.200 - It is a class 2 civil infraction for any person other than the owner thereof or his authorized agent to remove or alter any stamp, leg band, ring, or other mark of identification attached to any Antwerp Messenger or Racing Pigeon.

While a local government can regulate citizens feeding pigeons (see ordinance provisions on feeding wildlife below), the solution thought to be most effective is pigeon eradication programs, which can be controversial.

Feeding Wildlife

  • Burien Municipal Code Ch. 6.40 - Feeding of Birds and Wildlife
  • Bellevue Municipal Code Sec. 3.43.090 - Feeding of Animals
  • Everett Municipal Code Ch. 8.52 - Feeding Ducks
  • Ocean Shores Ordinance No. 775 (Adobe Acrobat Document), passed 05/2004 - Human Feeding of Wild Birds

Additional References

Need more information?

Feel free to Ask MRSC. Washington cities, counties, and our contract partners can call or email MRSC for more information and advice - free of charge.