What is A Problem Animal Control (PAC) Agent?

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 131, Section 37, gives property owners the right to use lawful means to destroy wildlife in the act of causing damage or threatening personal safety. Landowners may only destroy wildlife actually causing damage or posing immediate threats. No one may randomly destroy wildlife simply because it is on their property. It is also illegal for anyone (including PAC agents) to live-trap a problem animal and move it for release on other public or private property.

If a property owner cannot resolve a wildlife problem on his or her own, the property owner may contract with a licensed Problem Animal Control Agent. PAC agents act on behalf of the landowner and are constrained by the same regulations regarding capture, release, transport and euthanasia (e.g. animals captured by PAC agents may not be relocated elsewhere). Fees may be charged for PAC services. When a property owner calls on a PAC agent, it is expected that the agent will also provide information and suggestions which prevent future wildlife problems.

PAC licenses are issued to individuals, not to groups or companies. Licensed PAC agents are the only individuals who may work with problem wildlife. PAC agents are not municipal Animal Control Officers, though some Animal Control Officers do have a PAC license. (Unless otherwise licensed as PAC agents, municipal Animal Control Agents may not legally handle wildlife unless the animals are sick or injured or present a threat to public health or safety.)

PAC agents may harass, take, and destroy, or may release or liberate on site as stipulated in 321 CMR 2.14 (23) non-domesticated reptiles, birds, and mammals the actions of which have or are endangering the life and health of humans or domestic animals; damaging the property of a person, obstructing the reasonable and comfortable use of property by the owner or tenant thereof or otherwise producing such material annoyance, inconvenience, and discomfort that can reasonably be presumed to result in damage or harm to persons or their property.

What Animals May a PAC Agent Handle?

PAC agents may legally handle the following species: skunk, muskrat, raccoon, weasel, red fox, gray fox, porcupine, Norway rat, mice, voles, red, gray and flying squirrel, opossum, chipmunk, rabbit, woodchuck, snapping turtle, moles, pigeon, house sparrow, starling and certain species of bats.

Coyotes may be handled only by licensed PAC agents who have successfully completed a MassWildlife training and certification program specifically pertaining to coyotes. PAC agents must also follow certain reporting requirements after taking or attempting to take a coyote. This provision became effective in 2008. Contact the Westborough office at (508) 389-6300 for more details.

Individual landowners with damage caused by beaver flooding must contact their local Board of Health for the necessary permit. Licensed PAC agents or fur trappers may assist landowners with the permit process and will be identified on the permit as the landowner's duly authorized agent. More beaver information .

No other animals may be captured or handled by licensed PAC agents.

Damage caused by migratory birds and other birds such as woodpeckers, which are protected under both state and federal law, require a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services Office in Amherst (413) 253-2403.

See PAC Agent Districts to find a licensed PAC agent for your region.