Nuisance Wildlife - Deer in field

For more information on nuisance and problem wildlife, contact the WDFW Wildlife Conflict Program



How to Become a Wildlife Control Operator

Class Available in Olympia
February 29, 2016
Click here for more details
Roof damage caused by raccoons
Roof damage caused by raccoons

What is a Wildlife Control Operator? Per WAC, a "wildlife control operator" means a person who has successfully completed the training and obtained one or more levels of certification from the department to assist landowners to prevent or control problems caused by wildlife. Currently, only a small game certification can be obtained at this time.

Those persons interested in becoming a Wildlife Control Operator may do so, but only after fulfilling the agency requirements. They are:

  • Must be 18 years of age
  • Take the agency’s WCO certification course
  • Have the equipment knowledge and ability to control wildlife species causing property damage

For a complete list of requirements see WAC 232-36-060 and WAC 232-36-065.

Getting started for the first time? Have you trapped for years and are just now interested in venturing into the wildlife control business? Wildlife conflicts are often very controversial, time consuming, and require special care and expertise when working with wildlife. Before investing your time and effort, check out the following website for important information and other points of interest before you make the decision.

How do I obtain my certification?

  Step 1   Applicants must complete the agency’s trapper education course found on the Hunter Education page. You can download the material and schedule a test at the nearest regional fish and wildlife office found on the regional contact list. You must have a minimum passing score of 90%. Occasionally classes may be offered and may be posted on this page as well.
  Step 2  

WDFW tries to alternate eastside and westside WCO certification, but depending on demand that may not be the case every time. Those people desiring to complete the certification course in order to become a WCO can e-mail a request to in order to be placed on the notification list for the next available training class.

  Step 3  

Once you’ve completed the required training, you will be provided an electronic application that can be submitted to WDFW to begin the processing of your certification. Certifications are good for three years from the date of issuance and all certifications will be issued to you as an individual. Persons working for a Wildlife Control Company will need to provide their employer with a copy of their certification.

Damage caused by nesting starlings
Damage caused by nesting starlings

Where do I go to get a WCO Certification?

As identified in step 2 above, training is requested through the email listed or by calling the Olympia office at (360) 902-2515 and your name will be added to the list for requested training. Once a class has been scheduled, you will be notified via email or mail depending upon your requested notification option as to class location, date, and time. Classes are approximately 4-5 hours long and are given during the week and/or occasionally offered on the weekends.

What is the cost?

There is a one-time $50 certification fee charge at the time of the certification course. Upon expiration, the applicant can apply for a new permit. However, you don’t have to pay an additional $50 in order to re-apply. Remember, this is a one-time fee. Additionally, as of July 2010, you are no longer required to purchase a trappers license in order to become a wildlife control operator.

What types of traps are allowed?

Currently, live traps are the only lawful methods a wildlife control operator can currently use. Body-gripping traps cannot be used per Initiative I-713, unless under very specific circumstances and only after using non-lethal methods. Special trapping permits can be obtained at trapping permits.

Valuable Links & Information:

If you are interested in other external training, or links, please see the information below. Disclaimer: not all of the methods of capture shown in the links are allowed in Washington State and are identified as a visual reference only. If you have any questions, please contact your nearest WDFW Regional Office.

Lawn damage caused by raccoons
Lawn damage caused by raccoons

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