Urban IPM SoCal

Integrated Pest Management for Structural Pests in Southern California

Structural pest control licensure and live capture and removal of vertebrate pests, bees, and wasps without using pesticides

Feral pigeon_Columbia livia domestica_control_California structural pest control

By: Siavash Taravati, Ph.D.

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Published: 29 Sep 2019

California Structural Pest Control act (Structural Pest Control Board [SPCB], Nov. 2015) states that “It is unlawful for any individual to engage or offer to engage in the business or practice of structural pest control, as defined in Section 8505, unless he or she is licensed under this chapter” [§8550 (a)].

However, the act also mentions a few exceptions to the above rule. One of these exceptions are found under §8550 (g) which states that:

“Persons engaged in the live capture and removal or exclusion of vertebrate pests, bees, or wasps from a structure without the use of pesticides, provided those persons maintain insurance coverage as described in Section 8692. “Vertebrate pests” include, but are not limited to, bats, raccoons, skunks, and squirrels, but do not include mice, rats, or pigeons. This section does not exempt a person from the provisions of Chapter 1.5 (commencing with Section 2050) of Division 3 of the Fish and Game Code.” [§8555 (g)].

The above section makes an exception to the §8550 (a) by excluding pest control of vertebrate pests, bees, and wasps without using pesticides. However, If you look at the underlined (in red) section of the above paragraph, you will see that “mice, rats, and pigeons” are excluded from the definition of “vertebrate pests” meaning that you are still required to obtain an appropriate individual license from the SPCB if you are going to remove any of these three animals from structures even without using pesticides.

However, in 2008, the Business and Profession Code (BPC) section 8555(g) was held unconstitutional by the 9th circuit (Merrifield v. Lockyer, 547 F.3d 978, 900 (9th Cir. 2008) as a part of a lawsuit against the SPCB by an unlicensed operator who believed that he does Not need a SPCB license to remove animals from premises without using pesticides. As a result, the SPCB decided not to make any distinction between the three group of animals mentioned above and the rest of the vertebrate pests in practice, meaning that the board will not require operators to obtain a SPCB license for removing vertebrates, bees, and wasps if it is done without using pesticides. You might still need other licenses from other state or federal agencies though. As of today (30 Sep 2019), this practice by the board is still in effect but might change in the future.

Warning: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Please talk to a lawyer and refer to the California Structural Pest Control act (Structural Pest Control Board [SPCB], Nov. 2015) if you have any concerns or doubts.


2018 (Apr). Board meeting minutes, revised (2nd revision) meeting notice and agenda. Structural Pest Control Board.

2015 (Nov). State of California – Department of Consumer affairs – Structural Pest control Act – Business and Professions Code and Rules And Regulations – Division 3 – Chapter 14 Structural Pest Control Operators.