It Might Be Illegal to Relocate Wildlife

By Chris Williams on June 29, 2013.
Squirrel hanging out of the attic


We have this one squirrel that keeps getting into our attic. We blocked it out once before but now it has chewed a new opening. My husband wants to trap it and relocate it. Would it be best to move it to a wooded area somewhere or would an open area be better for the squirrel?


Sorry, but in your state of Massachusetts, you can’t move that squirrel anywhere off of your property. It is illegal in Massachusetts to trap and then transport an animal to a new location. All you can do is trap it out of your attic (but see below) and release it on your own property. In some cases, an animal that is causing damage or posing an immediate threat can be killed.

While you may think you are doing the animal a favor by moving it to a new location, it can actually be cruel to do so. There are several very good reasons why relocating a nuisance animal is not a good idea—and is illegal. According to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife:

  • The relocated animal may try to return to its original area and be hit by a vehicle. Squirrels, raccoons, and other wildlife can return from 5, 10, or even 15 miles away.
  • A relocated animal will have a more difficult time finding food, water, and shelter in a new, unfamiliar place. If the animal can’t find these necessities, it will be stressed and may die.
  • If food, water, and shelter are available in the new site, chances are that the site will then already be occupied by other members of the same species and that they will not welcome a newcomer in their territory. They may drive the animal away or even kill it.
  • If the relocated animal is carrying a disease, it may spread that disease to other animals in the area. Rabies is a special concern.
  • If the conditions on your property are particularly attractive to the animal and you move it out, other animals may move in to replace it.

If the animal being moved has lost its fear of humans, it will no doubt repeat its habits and moving it simply transfers the problem to someone else.

Finally, moving the animal does not address the cause of the problem. If the reason why the animal was there in the first place is not addressed, the problem will just reoccur. You need to determine how squirrels are getting into your attic and what you can do to block them. Our nuisance wildlife experts can inspect your home and make permanent changes that will squirrel-proof your home for the future.

Regarding your squirrel—before you or anyone else blocks it from getting into your attic, you must be sure that there are no young in the attic that could die if mom can’t get back to them. That’s also part of what we do at Colonial. We use an excluding device to remove the squirrel from the attic and then will seal any openings and reinforce areas that a squirrel could turn into openings in the future. Give us a call today.

Photo credit: Tammra McCauley / / CC BY



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