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Sunday, May 2, 2021: WANTED poster

Yesterday our group posted a photo of a billboard along Willow Road--a WANTED poster with an image of a skunk, a raccoon, and a squirrel. Many responses were outraged, while others pointed out that it is Illinois state law to kill "nuisance" animals that are removed by critter removal companies.

While our group's focus is on beavers, we will also be taking a look at IDNR policies toward all wildlife and how they compare to "best practices" adopted by other states. We believe that Illinois is not forward-thinking on its wildlife policies.

Yesterday I wrote about the ripple effects that one small decision can have. Skunks are beneficial to farmers, gardeners, and landowners because they feed on a large number of agricultural and garden pests. Raccoons play an important role in an ecosystem because as scavengers, they clean up carrion and dine on other species we consider pests, including snakes and rats. Squirrels play important roles in ecosystems because they take seeds and bury them throughout the environment.

The point is that our "cultural carrying capacity," or our ability to tolerate wildlife, is very low, and if we could just bring ourselves to raise it, our ecosystems would reap the benefits.

With regard to that particular billboard, it feels to me like there is a certain amount of glee coming off of the WANTED poster. It feels tone deaf. If you've got squirrels or raccoons in your attic, obviously they need to be removed, but we don't need to make a joke about it. I don't know if it's a new billboard or if it's been there for a while and my eyes are newly opened to the fate of wildlife trapped by critter removal companies, but it feels like a poor advertising decision that the company might want to revisit.

So if that billboard offended you enough that you plan to reach out to the company, which honestly is just following the law regarding the fate of the critters it controls, I would recommend that you focus on the tone and message of the billboard, not on things that are out of the company's control.

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