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Critter - Gitter

Tom Lounsbury

Wed, 25 May 2016 12:11:35 EDT


click on the picture to enlarge


                           Critter - Gitter
(“Have traps, will travel”)
By Tom Lounsbury
Spring has certainly sprung, because the orioles (both Baltimore and orchard) are now visiting the special feeders around our home and the humming birds have just arrived too. Rabbits are also evident all around our yard and no doubt in the process of making even more rabbits. Recent frost warnings however, had me a little concerned because all my fruit trees are in full blossom now with honey bees buzzing everywhere (I’m very fortunate in this regard with beehives being maintained on my farm). So far though, the frost hasn’t happened to me, and we have certainly had an unpredictable (and unusual “up and down”) spring thus far.
My wife Ginny and I love to watch the wildlife activity around our home, yard and fields (the majority of which are in conservation programs). However, living in the middle of wildlife habitat as pleasant as it is, can have a downside with its own challenges. It was this time of year a couple springs ago I was making coffee in our upstairs kitchen when I heard the distinct call of young raccoons beckoning to their mother.
It didn’t take me long to realize that a family of raccoons had taken up residence in our attic, which in reality isn’t a wonderful matter at all, because raccoons can really play havoc inside buildings. They are quite devious on how they can gain access with their very dexterous front paws and they are real rascals at tearing matters up and defecating everywhere. It is not a pretty picture at all. I’ve heard of folks with summer residences who upon opening the doors to their cottages in the spring, discovered total devastation wrought by raccoons.
Being a farm boy who has dealt with wildlife issues all my life (including trapping), I knew my best recourse in my attic which isn’t that easy to access, was to do a very straight forward eviction. I discovered the raccoon entry/exit point which was just under the roof next to the chimney, and I left that open as an obvious escape route for the raccoons. I knew by the raccoon lingo that the young were old enough to accompany their mother in leaving, and with this thought in mind I put in three “bug-bombs” at the opposite end that would not only get rid of any bugs, but would also create a very intolerable atmosphere for any critters in the attic in an abrupt manner.
It didn’t take the family of raccoons long at all to pack their bags and skedaddle out of there as fast as possible. Once I was assured they had vacated the premises, I sealed up their entry point. My only other recourse, which is usually the case in matters such as this, would have been to use traps to eliminate the problem, but I was left with an obvious and convenient option due to that particular circumstance and the reality is, I got lucky. Dealing with problem causing wildlife can be a true challenge for homeowners, even in a municipal environment. Raccoons for instance, don’t have any problem living in town.
Believe it or not squirrels can be a real issue if they can get into a building. What they can do in wreaking havoc is identical to that of a horde of rats. The most notorious squirrel is the little red squirrel because due to its smaller size, it can gain access through unbelievably tight areas. Woodchucks too (which are also in the squirrel family), are notorious for tunneling under and near buildings, and when you realize one of their dens all by itself can displace over 5000 pounds of soil, it certainly can be a bit rough on any foundation and even cement floors. A woodchuck with friends and relatives living close by can become a serious issue in a hurry, and there is usually more than one.
Then there are skunks and opossums that believe they are welcome anywhere, and let us not forget moles which can have a great deal of fun “lawn- time” while making their maze of just under the sod tunnels. Needless to say I frequently get calls from distraught homeowners seeking a bit of relief. That is when I refer them to what I call a “Critter-Gitter” who is a professional that can accurately read animal sign and know what critter they are dealing with and how best to handle the situation according to the lay of the ground, including associated circumstances. This requires a particular talent, not to mention a bit of seasoning, and most critter-gitters I know are also avid fur trappers and my kind of folks, really. (The Michigan DNR has a list nuisance animal control experts and contact information on its website, ).
A critter-gitter I’ve known for some time now and never hesitate to recommend to local homeowners is Chad Seley of Elkton who owns and operates “Nuisance Animal Control Service” (989-551-0013). Chad has been in the business since 1990 and as you might guess he is also an avid fur trapper during the winter. Trapping to him is actually an art form that he has never tired from and whether he is fur trapping or going after nuisance animals, there is always a sense of excitement and anticipation whenever he checks his traps to see if he has outwitted the critter he is after.
Some critters aren’t that easy to trap either. I’ve personally known some raccoons that were instinctively real trap-wise, but constructive persistence finally paid off. One important matter a critter-gitter has to take into consideration is whether or not any pets are roaming the area that is to be trapped, and this will determine the type of trap to use. In many cases this will involve a “live-trap” which simply entraps the animal in a metal, rectangular cage, and if it happens to be a pet, it can be easily released unharmed (the most common pet I’ve encountered are cats, even when the live-trap is baited with something a cat wouldn’t like, such as a cob of corn for raccoons or broccoli for woodchucks - cats are naturally curious and nosey critters). As Chad Seley will tell you, there are economy live-traps and there are quality live-traps. Raccoons and woodchucks for example, can put the hurt on economy models in a hurry, in their effort to escape.
When pets aren’t an issue, the best trap to use is a kill type that does a quick and humane job. Woodchucks for instance, even though they tunnel around for a living, don’t necessarily like to enter some matters such as a live-trap, despite tantalizing bait. I can’t tell you why, but it is what it is, and if you don’t know what you are doing, they will even insult you by throwing dirt on your set-up. They are fulltime participants in their particular environment, and can easily sense when something is amiss. This is when a professional is required to resolve the issue.
I had a call last week from Shirley Wisenbach of Cass City when she had discovered some wild critter was digging a hole in her well house, and squirrels had obviously just invaded her nice 5th wheel camper she was hoping to sell. Shirley had been calling around to locate a professional to resolve the issue, and had no luck, other than one business had said they could send someone out of Saginaw to come and evaluate the situation. I knew right away that Shirley needed a seasoned, local critter-gitter who would immediately resolve her nuisance wildlife issues. I put her in contact with Chad Seley, who got on the job in short order (with a cell phone on hand, Chad’s truck is often his office because this is a busy time of year for him).
I had asked Chad to let me know when he was at Shirley’s place, so I could check out his techniques and types of traps. Chad had quickly assessed what critters were the culprits, and had started right in. The squirrels invading the camper were the small red squirrels that had discovered a very small entry point near the air conditioner. I had assumed over the phone that the well house invader was probably a woodchuck, but Chad quickly read the animal sign and knew it was a skunk instead. Accurately knowing the critter you are dealing with is easily half the battle, and removing skunks is a matter of fact part of the job for Chad, who can live-trap and remove them without any smell being left behind (my having been sprayed once, skunks are not my cup of tea at all - if I have a skunk issue, I’m calling Chad).
Critter-gitters are definitely handy to have around when nuisance wildlife become a homeowner’s problem. A good slogan for seasoned professionals such as Chad Seley is: “Have traps, will travel”.

pictured above: Professional "Critter-Gitter" Chad Seley of Elkton with some of the
results of a day's travel in the Thumb which include a family of raccoons
live-trapped in a municiple building, and a woodchuck removed with a
kill-trap, that was tunnelling under a homeowner's garage foundation and
concrete floor.

click on the picture to enlarge

Cass City homeowner Shirley Wisenbach and Chad Seley discuss the day's
catch results of red squirrels that had invaded Shirley's camper. Several
red squirrels were caught and removed.

click on the picture to enlarge

Due to covering a lot of miles in the Thumb performing his nuisance animal
control business, Chad Seley's truck is often his office.



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