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Contending with Vertebrate Pests Around Schools Webinar Report

Contending with Vertebrate Pest Around Schools, part of a series of school Integrate Pest Management (IPM) webinars, hosted by EPA's Center of Expertise for School IPM, was presented on March 31, 2015. Included here is the contact information for the presenters, webinar statistics, responses to questions and comments, and related resources.

On this page:


  • Stephen Van Tassel, PhD, University of Nebraska, author, consultant and wildlife expert 
  • Mark Hardin, IPM Specialist of Howard Co. (Maryland) Public School System 
  • Marcia Anderson, Ph.D., EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM  

Statistical Information


  • 421 people from 45 states, and 1 territory 
    • Top 4 states: NY (37) CA (36), WA (28), CO (22)
    • Represented over 2.8 M students (2,828,421)
    • Registration breakdown:221  schools/ districts/ CCC were reached
      • Facilities (170), Administration (12), Nurse (26)
      • 87 - Health Departments 
      • 59 IPM coordinators 
      • 22 - Pest management professionals  
      • - others including state government (36), Federal (17) Edu (18)
      • 15 -  Tribes including IHS
  • 12 registrants/ attendees requested information on developing an IPM plan/program
  • Webinars were the clear choice of training venues with a   73% (138) preference, as opposed to all other choices: classroom/workshops, conventions, websites, papers, combined (27%) 


  • 47% (198) attended the webinar from 39 states
  • Represented  1.1M+ children  (1,166,489)
  • Top states: NY (16), CA (15), WA (13)
    • 96  schools/ districts and Childcare Centers 
    • Facilities (48), IPM CoO (20), Administration (9), School nurse (6)
    • Health Departments (41)
    • 12 PMPs;      
    • 5 Tribes 

Teaching efficacy (measured by attendee feedback)

  • 98% Have gained general insight of IPM as it relates to vertebrate pests 
  • 99 % Have better insight about larger vertebrate pests and prevention in and around schools 
  • 99% Would recommend this course to others  

Understanding of the importance of School IPM

  • Measured by attendees indicating their #1 reason for implementing IPM
  • 86% Chose: IPM creates a healthier school environment for children  
  • Measured by attendee response for most effective type of  pest control 
  • 98% Systematic use of a variety of techniques is most effective for pest control  

IPM Related

  • 81% of school attendees have a pesticide safety and IPM plan/policy? 
  • 66% of school attendees have an IPM Coordinator?) 
  • 29 wants more information on IPM  

Outreach Effort (measured by how registrants learned about the webinar)

  •  71% -  from an EPA E-mail or website 


  • 90% Correct for reasons why deer on school grounds are a major concern of facility managers (deer are a primary tick host).
  • 83% Correct for question on what not to do to control of free-range cats (Feeding to attract as a pet to use for mouse control)
  • 94.5% Correct for effective and legal ways to control squirrels 
  • 82.5% Correct for steps to prevent and not attract most pests from school grounds  

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Questions and Answers

General Question 

  1. Will the presentation be available for download? Where?
    A PDF of the presentation is available  on our website Search EPA Archive along with a recording of the webinar Exit
  2. Can you use carbon dioxide in groundhog holes?

    Dr. Vantassel) You could, but I would not recommend it. The reason is woodchucks are very tolerant verse carbon dioxide. If you’re thinking about using a fumigant such as carbon dioxide, then you’re likely dealing with a den hole that’s away from a structure. This being because you wouldn’t want to use carbon dioxide near a structure, because of the risk of potentially harming people. So if you’re going to be able to think about using a fumigant, you might as well just use one of the gas cartridges if you’re away from the structure. In fact trapping the woodchucks is really very easy if you have the den. I recommend a two-door trap. The one  I used to use when I was in business was a double-door spring-loaded trap about 8x8x30 inches.

    You would simply set the trap after dark over the den hole. You would basically force the woodchuck when he comes out in the morning. The only light it’s seeing is through the trap itself. You would barricade it and use a claw to make the woodchuck come out through the trap in the morning. You’d have him when he came up during the day with no bait whatsoever. It’s really quite simple. It’s a very fast and easy way of doing that.

  3. Groundhogs are my problem. They burrow close to schools. Is it difficult to live-trap groundhogs in a school setting with kids around?
    (Mark Hardin) It's not difficult. We often trap groundhogs around our schools. Our biggest problem is actually not with getting the groundhog to go in the traps, but it's keeping the traps from being stolen. People don’t understand what you’re doing, so they’ll come out and actually try to steal the traps. It not at all difficult to trap them, especially if you have the den, as was just explained by Dr. Vantassel.

    (Dr. Vantassel) I would suggest taking some plywood and basically creating a walled area around the trap and hole, so that way you could put the trap out of public view. The woodchuck would simply just dig out from underneath the plywood. It’s a little more expensive but you could recycle the plywood and use it multiple years. 

    (Mark Hardin) We’ve actually done that. The problem is that some people don’t understand. Some people are pro-animal and not pro-moving the animal and it’s a matter of education in most cases.

  4. Will a radio with music work in the attic for squirrels?
    (Dr. Vantassel) It’s possible. What you may end up doing however, is moving the squirrel to another part of the attic which may be more difficult for you to access. I’m not a big fan of frightening devices or repellents as you probably can tell from my presentation. If you have the time, patience, and willingness then certainly you could do that. Understand that the longer it takes you to remove that squirrel from the attic of your school or building, the more risk you’re taking that the squirrel might gnaw a wire that could cause a fire. It’s also going to possibly be damaging insulation in the structure and reducing your R-value of the building. So yes, it is possible. I would be concerned about the efficiency of it and whether you could cause another problem.   

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Upcoming School IPM Webinars

We welcome your participation in our upcoming webinars and ask you to encourage your peers to attend. These presentations are geared specifically to school and school district facility managers, buildings and grounds managers and staff, childcare facility managers, and school IPM practitioners. School nurses, school administrators, health officials, and pest management professionals are welcome to attend.

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