Challenges of Track ID

Challenges of Track ID

Coyote track. A U.S. quarter is shown. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Coyote track. A U.S. quarter is shown. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

In my job, I get requests to identify a track. To me, it’s an enjoyable task but also a challenging one. A key reason is people rarely take good photos. Here are a few things to keep in mind when taking photos of tracks that you want identified.

  1. Keep the track between you and the sun.
  2. Take photos at the maximum resolution
  3. Make sure the image is in focus. Zoom in on your shots to ensure they are still crisp at full size.
  4. Include a ruler or  a standard size object in the photo to show the size of the track.

Follow these tips and you will increase the likelihood of having your track identified.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a free-lance writer that specializes in wildlife damage management. His books are available at Lulu.com.

 

Garage Doors & Mice

Garage doors often have rubber edges that mice can damage. A new product is available that may help homeowners with this problem. It is easy to use.  Metal strips simply fasten over rubber edges (used to improve the insulation seal of the door) to prevent gnaw damage by mice.

Garage Door Rodent Guard. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Garage Door Rodent Guard may help prevent rodent entry into your building through the garage door. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

I am not endorsing the product. Just letting people know about it. I would welcome hearing your comments.

Stephen M. Vantassel does research, advocacy, training, and consultation related to wildlife damage issues.

wildlifecontrolconsultant(at)gmail(dot)com

 

Histoplasmosis and Hot Dry Attics

Histoplasmosis and Hot Dry Attics

Bat guano can carry the fungus that causes histoplasmosis even in hot dry attics. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Bat guano can carry the fungus that causes histoplasmosis even in hot dry attics. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus that resides in bat droppings and areas contaminated by bird excrement. The fungus usually grows in moist nutrient environments. So the question is does the fungus survive in bat guano in hot dry attics? Well according to Bartlett et al. (1982) the answer is simply, “Yes.” Attics, even hot dry attics, with active bat infestations can cause people exposed to the droppings/fungal spores to contract histoplasmosis.

Source:

Bartlett, P. C., Vonbehren, L. A., Tewari, R. P., Martin, R. J., Eagleton, L., Isaac, M. J., & Kulkarni, P. S. (1982). Bats in the Belfry: An Outbreak of Histoplasmosis. American Journal of Public Health, 72(12), 1369-1372 available at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.72.12.1369

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Understanding Average Wildlife Populations

Understanding Average Wildlife Populations

A wildlife control operator (WCO) complained that all the experts said that there were on average only 8 pocket gophers per acre. Yet he had trapped 12 on a ¼ acre. His question is

Pocket gopher mounds. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel
Pocket gopher mounds. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel

understandable. But it shows a misapprehension of population density averages.

  1. Average is just an average. This means that your plot of land can have more or less than the average (often depending on the quality of habitat).
  2. Check the calendar. In general, wildlife populations are higher in the spring (due to young) and lower in the winter (due to deaths due to winter/predation/hunger).
  3. Wildlife move. Wildlife are always looking for a better place to live. If you remove pocket gophers from an area, pocket gophers from the surrounding property will readjust their home range and move into the newly vacated property.

Keep these 3 points in mind and you will have a better understanding of average wildlife populations.

 About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Obtain Repair Release

Obtain Repair Release

When I owned Wildlife Removal Service, Inc., I was hired to remove a squirrel from a basement. It was a relatively routine job. I placed a trap in the room where the squirrel was. To protect the carpet, I laid down several layers of newspaper underneath the trap. I removed the squirrel, got paid, and thought the job was over.

Then I got a call. The client said the squirrel damaged the carpet. Sure enough it did. Fortunately, they didn’t want the carpet replaced, they just wanted it cleaned. I spoke with my insurance company and they told me that I could pay the cleaning bill but I should obtain a repair release. The point was that if I paid the bill, having the release, would mean that the client stated he was satisfied, and therefore couldn’t allege more damage.

So don’t forget, if you repair something, be sure to obtain repair release.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Bats, Sound, & Rabies

Bats, Sound, & Rabies

Research by Denny Constantine (d. 2014) found that there is a relationship between bats, sound, & rabies. In other words, Constantine believed that rabid bats are attracted to noise.

Rabies virus. CDC/ Dr. Fred. A. Murphy
Rabies virus. CDC/ Dr. Fred. A. Murphy

He found that rabid bats appeared to attack humans that were associated with or emitting loud noise. In one study, Constantine used harp traps. Some were set with noise makers and others were silent. The noisy traps caught rabid bats while the silent one’s did not.

The attraction of rabid bats to noise may explain why people who were sleeping in rooms with bats contracted rabies. Perhaps the individuals were snoring or were making noise through their breathing.

Ultimately, more research is needed. But if Constantine’s findings prove out, a trap methodology could be developed to capture bats that are sick and thereby protect other bats and wildlife species from contracting rabies. (Source Combating the Rage by David A. Jessup. The Wildlife Professional Fall 2014: 8:3:38-42.

 About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

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Add a Signature

Wildlife control operators (WCOs) have trouble with marketing. Though more people are beginning to distinguish WCOs from their insect-killing cousins (Pest Control Operators), the fact is WCOs remain in the shadow of the larger pest control industry.

Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC Logo
Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC Logo

In light of those challenges, one would think that WCOs would be looking to take advantage of every opportunity to market their services. But in my experience, they don’t. One of the least expensive ways to market  a business that WCOs don’t use is the e-mail signature.

Signatures are standard blocks of text that are placed by the e-mail program at the bottom of every e-mail prior to being sent. Once you set one up, the text is automatically placed. Failure to add a signature results in a lost opportunity to let people know what you do and how to contact you. So why not add a signature to your e-mail account so that when you write future e-mails you don’t loose the marketing opportunity it provides.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Chimney Trap System 1

It was a beautiful Saturday Summer day in Western Massachusetts. I had lined up three chimney raccoon jobs and thankfully I was able to get my wife to come along and help. I am not very good on roofs and chimneys, let alone handling so many fireplaces in one day. Some of my colleagues talk about handling these jobs in an hour, I can only wish to be that fast. My chimney raccoon removal method at the time was Rich Daniotti’s Chimney Trap System 1. This is the trap system without the chimney brushes. You are supposed to set the trap and come back the next day. I never felt confident enough with that method, so I would just drive the female up the chimney and catch her the same day.

Chimney Trap System 1 hanging by bungee cords. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Chimney Trap System 1 hanging by bungee cords. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

The first two jobs went okay despite being rather long. The sun was shinning and the temperature was beginning to rise. I felt good about the money I was making but I was beginning to feel rather tired. The last job of the day was two floor house in a nearby town. We didn’t start there till after 3:00 pm. Already the sweat was pouring out of my body and it was not at all comfortable. After greeting the client and checking out the fireplace, I accessed the roof and installed the chimney trap. The roof was a little more pitched than I like and the tiles were beginning to get soft. I knew I had to move quickly in order to finish the job today. With the trap installed, I began to harass the mother to get her to climb the chimney and enter the trap. She was a little stubborn at first but in a couple of minutes, I heard the pleasant sound of the metal trap door closing. I thought it was a bit strange that it sounded so loud. I am partially deaf in my left ear, but  I figured the acoustics were right. Feeling kind a proud of myself, I exit the building looking for the chimney to see my trapped raccoon. I was a bit surprised that I didn’t see the trap. I guessed that the roof line was blocking my view, so I stepped further away from the house to get a clearer ground view of the chimney. My stomach sank when I saw the top of the chimney with no raccoon and worst of all no trap. I felt even worse knowing that the chimney was surrounded by building so if my trap fell it would not fall harmlessly to the ground. I started getting worried about the cost of potential damages. By the way, did I mention that the client was a lawyer?

I swung around the building looking for my trap. I passed a corner, looked up and there was my trap and trapped raccoon hanging by the bungee cords against the chimney. On the roof below, urine and feces were sprayed. It seems that the trap wasn’t stabilized enough or she flew out of the chimney so fast that the trap lifted up dislodging it from the chimney. Feeling that she was falling, she literally messed herself she was so scared. Thankfully, the bungee cords stopped the trap from falling on the asphalt shingled roof below. The house wasn’t damaged by the impact either because the trap only hit the side of the brick chimney. Thank God, I had truly dodged a bullet on this one. The client didn’t even notice my mistake. He was just glad that the job was getting done.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.

Winter Trapping Tips

Winter Trapping Tips

Each season brings its own challenges to the WCO and winter is no different. Here are a few tips to maximize your results when Mother Nature tries to slow you down.
1. Choose the right glue board. I am not a big fan of glue boards but sometimes they are needed. In cold weather, choose the freezer-style glue boards as they stay tacky even down to freezing temperatures.

Board used to protect a cage trap from snow. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.
Board used to protect a cage trap from snow. Photo by Stephen M. Vantassel.

2. Protect your cage traps from snow. Snow can conceal your bait and bury your traps making it ineffective. Worse yet, you have to dig out your traps later. Protect your traps in advance by setting them under an evergreen tree, under an eave, on the lee side of a tree or building, or place a sheet of plywood on top.
3. Improve your baiting technique. Bait won’t volatize as easily in cold weather so don’t think that your bait will have the same draw as it does in the summer. Thus you need to pay more attention to locating your traps in the best location. But since that may not be possible (see point 2) think about using trailing lures to help guide the animal to the trap.

About the Author

Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.

Copyright

All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.