Behavior change . Nonlethal . Permanent
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Historically, the management tactics used to deal with so-called “nuisance” wildlife or wildlife perceived as a threat to human safety and livelihood in urban, suburban and rural landscapes has typically been invasive, and have often included the destruction of the animals. But indiscriminate lethal control has shown to disrupt natural behavioral and ecological processes, destroy natural habitats with far-reaching consequences, and create more problems for people than it solves.

VEXING is the application of knowledge of animal behavior in order to solve human-animal conflicts. It was designed to minimize impact to the target species and/or individual animals within a local population. It doesn’t require the lethal removal of any healthy animals, which can disrupt the population dynamic, and create both behavioural and ecological problems that will require on-going management.

There are many discrete components to VEXING that work synchronously: 1) Evaluation of the conflict sites and pathways used. 2) Behavioral assessment i.e. testing the level of habituation and sensitization, which informs what type of “correction” is needed to minimize/eliminate the target behavior. 3) Correction is applied using both temporary and permanent stimulus control, whether it’s behavioural or habitat related (includes enhancement) or a combination of both.4) The human aspects of the conflicts are also addressed through education and stakeholder participation. All the components of VEXING are fluid and synergistic. The passive approach of VEXING includes creating buffer zones to protect crops from being raided by wildlife, as well as landscape design around homes and businesses that will not be attracting unwanted “visitors”.

The behavior correction aspect of VEXING is that it’s a hands-on approach for use by professionals. Other aspects of VEXING such as the technique for using large object novel stimuli, called the “invisible wall” is shared with the general public because it is user-friendly, effective and does not require directly engaging with the animal(s).

VEXING™, was created and developed by Mary A. Paglieri in 1999 to permanently modify behavior of wildlife that is problematic in the human landscape. This includes food conditioned foraging behavior in developed areas i.e. crops, livestock, and pets.

VEXING™ was first presented at the San Mateo County Coyote Forum in 1999. The Forum was attended by renowned wildlife scientists, and national animal welfare organizations. The technique was first developed to specifically modify the behavior of coyotes, and later expanded to address all conflict wildlife. The Methodology is tailored to be species-specific.


VEXING™ should not be confused with “hazing” which are simple scare tactics (disruptive stimuli) i.e making yourself look big, waving your arms, bonfires, smoke, firecrackers, bright lights, noise makers and shouting. Scare tactics should be used sparingly and only when absolutely needed for personal protection, as wildlife will habituate to it, and they will no longer work if used inappropriately without cause. Furthermore, how animals react to scaring techniques is site specific and depends on the breeding season, life history, experience, social status and sex of the animal and other internal/external stimuli. This simply means that scare tactics in some situations will not work at all.

We offer training classes on using VEXING™ for wildlife professionals. In addition, simple techniques for use by the public are available. Please contact us for more information.