WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- A bill before the DC City Council is stirring some controversy.
The Wildlife Protection Act is aimed at ensuring that wildlife trappers, who remove critters from area homes, follow some basic humane guidelines.
If it becomes law, a wildlife removal business in DC would have to make every effort to keep a family of raccoons like this one together.
"For a long time, DC has been unregulated. This is sort of the Wild West when it comes to dealing with nuisance wildlife," said John Griffin of Humane Wildlife Services.
Wildlife like squirrels, raccoons and possums that like to nest in local homes.
"It protects the homeowners but it also protects obviously the animals. It says that you have to use humane methods. And it might even be that animals have to be killed. But even in those cases, you have to kill them humanely," said DC councilwoman Mary Cheh.
Councilwoman Cheh sponsored the bill to regulate wildlife control businesses and protect the public from ones she calls inhumane.
"They use traps that effectively torture animals, that non-targeted animals like pets sometimes get captured in them. When they do kill animals, they use horrific methods like beating them to death or drowning them," said Cheh.
One small section of the bill is getting the most attention. It states that a wildlife control operator shall make every reasonable effort to preserve family units... and not knowingly abandon dependent young in a structure.
"Keeping families together is a very important part of solving the problem. If a mother raccoon, a mother skunk, or mother ground hog thinks an animal is still inside, they'll keep on trying to get inside no matter what. And that causes damage to a house," said Griffin.
Thirty states across the country already have similar wildlife regulations in place, including Maryland and Virginia.
Rats and mice are NOT covered under the proposed legislation, nor are deer.
The DC Council is expected to approve the bill.
Written by Andrea McCarren
9NEWS NOW & wusa9.com