Continued … Returning from Kuwait / Animal Control & IDNR Testing & Prep

I felt well prepared when returning to the US. In 2006, I returned and got a job working as an animal control officer for a local county animal control in Illinois. I worked in a very active animal control organization that had a county budget of over a million dollars per year. I was assigned to patrol and respond to animal related issues such as assisting police investigations or seizures of pets after arrests, barking dog complaints, aggressive dogs, pets loose and missing, abuse and neglect cases as well as removal of sick, aggressive wildlife or wildlife that was inside living spaces. These were my favorite. I removed a ton of bats as I worked nights a lot. There was nothing more exciting than getting that call for a bat in a house. It’s amazing how this tiny (less than an ounce) creature could elicit such fear! I spent a lot of time educating folks about bats and wildlife and what was and what was not a legitimate concern. There’s so much misinformation about bats and wildlife out there!

I realized very quickly that there was a huge demand in Illinois for good wildlife control operators and businesses designed to address human / wildlife conflict. We received tons of calls at animal control for issues that we were not equipped to deal with. Calls for raccoons and squirrels in the attic, skunks under the deck, bat infestations in structures, woodchuck and ground squirrel damage, you name it. So, I decided to re-open my business and take the test in the State of Illinois for my Class A Nuisance Wildlife Control Permit through the Illinois Dept of Natural Resources. My phone was ringing off the hook in no time.

Unfortunately, I discovered quickly that there was no formal test preparation for this test. The test consisted of 100 questions, multiple choice, true / false and matching and test takers would be required to pass with an 80% or higher score. I was given a list of about a dozen books to obtain and read and told that this was what I should use to study. Over half of these books were out of publication and no longer offered for sale new! Many of the books were ten, even twenty years out of publication. I managed to find all of them though through online searches for book stores across the country. I ordered and started reading them, only to discover that these books often times contradicted one another. This was really no help. I took the test and failed it. I was surprised because I had studied very hard for this. I asked the IDNR to clarify what questions I had missed and they refused to review the test with me. They told me the same story, go back and read the materials again. I pointed out the discrepancies with the different books, this book would say there was 12 skunks average in a litter, another book would say a different amount. I asked the IDNR which book is correct. They never responded. I was required to wait 45 days in order to schedule another exam. I waited, took it again, and failed it again. I was a guy with extensive education and had rarely failed at anything I put my mind to. I again asked to review the test and was told no. This time I had to wait six months to retest. I could not even set a box / cage trap in the State without this permit. Fortunately, I passed on this third attempt. This was embarrassing and I was not proud. This, I learned later, would affect my business in such a severe way that I would not be able to expand or grow it within the State of Illinois…TO BE CONTINUED