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Rattlesnake Territory

Running into a rattlesnake can be a frightening and dangerous situation.  It’s important that you remember that we are living in rattlesnake territory and with the climbing temperatures, rattlesnakes are found more often in shaded areas.  Rattlesnakes are beneficial to the environment and help to control rodent populations; they also will do their best to avoid any confrontation with larger predators, such as humans.

If you come into contact with a rattlesnake on your property, leave it alone and do NOT try to remove the animal yourself.

Here are a few tips for if you ever encounter a rattlesnake:

  • Always be alert when walking/hiking in snake territory (shrubbery, tall grass, etc.) and keep any pets you have restrained. Avoid using headphones or other distracting materials that could prevent you from hearing a rattlesnake’s warning rattle.
  • If you are unsure of the snake that you have stumbled upon, be cautious; it too could be dangerous.
  • Back away from the snake slowly. Increase the space between you and the animal.
  • Do not attempt to throw things at it, pick it up, or agitate the snake.
  • If you encounter a snake, alert others of its location. Keep people, children, and pets away from that area.
  • If you, a child, or a pet is bitten by the snake, try to remain calm and call 911 immediately. DO NOT try to suck out the poison.
  • Keeping snakes out of your yard:
  • Limit the number of places that could act as a shelter for snakes (brush, rocks, wood piles, junk piles, tall unmanaged grass, etc. Are all examples of common snake habitats).
  • Control rodent populations by reducing the number of bird feeders and other food sources that attract rodents and therefore, snakes.
  • Avoid scaring away harmless snakes such as blow snakes, gopher snakes, garter snakes, etc. The presence of these non-poisonous snakes can help control rodent populations and also deter the presence of rattlesnakes.

A Bear-y Big Problem

Living in the mountains, there are always wild animals running around our yard, and as long as they stayed in their place and we stayed in ours we had no problem with it.  The problem came when we found raccoons in the walls of our house.  We were watching TV in our upstairs bedroom when all of a sudden we heard a soft thud in the wall between where we were and the room adjacent.  I muted the TV and we sat listening to see if anything else would happen; and sure enough about a minute later we started to hear scratching and climbing.  We waited to see if it would be able to get itself out of the wall or if we’d have to cut it free; luckily within 10 minutes it was up and out of the wall.

Considering this happened late at night I waited until the next day to look around outside and see where it might have been able to gain access to the wall.  I walked around the perimeter and looked up into the eaves and along the soffit to see if I could find any significant gaps or evidence of the raccoon from the wall.  As I came around the back of my house I found a fairly large hole tucked up into a tight corner I wouldn’t be able to get to, but I was sure a raccoon could so I called up a professional wildlife removal company in hopes that they’d be able to seal of the entrance and keep raccoons and other unwanted animals out of my walls.  They picked up and we set an appointment for an inspection the next afternoon.

Now keep in mind, this is early spring we’re talking about; a lot of hibernating creatures are waking up and lingering around looking for food.  When the technician came to the house the next day I walked them through the house and showed them where we heard the raccoon in the wall, then I took him to my bedroom to see where the gap was I found outside my bedroom window.  Since you couldn’t see it very well from the window, he wanted to crawl out onto the roof and get a better look. He sat in the window sill, slid his feet out, stood up, and then froze.  I leaned out to ask if he needed any help, and I froze too.  Standing just below us, out of sight from inside the window, was a black bear, staring right back up at us.  Neither of us wanted to spook it even though we were reasonably out of its reach on the second floor of my home, but we stood still.  After about five minutes of anxious silence, the bear ran back up the hill into the woods.  We finished the inspection, but I think my problem could be much bigger than just a raccoon in the wall.

Down with a Bang

Although woodpecker problems can be serious, it’s not very often that they can be considered dangers; in fact they’ve probably never been considered dangerous.  At least in my 17 years as a wildlife technician, I’ve never been injured in any way because of a woodpecker – or at least I hadn’t been until last week.  You would think after all these years I would have seen, done, and experienced it all, I know I thought I had, but I was dead wrong.  When I got a call from a customer with a woodpecker problem, I never would have pictured it going south in any way.

It was honestly a pretty routine job; the owner came to stay in the home, went to sleep, and he woke up to a horrible pounding outside his bedroom window.  Later that day I received a call from him and a full report on the woodpecker problem: approximately 4 holes that he could see, and only one bird.  I loaded my truck with sight, sound, and taste deterrents, strapped on a couple of ladders, and made a lunch stop before I headed to the job – just like any normal day.  When I got there I set up my ladder and started to check all the open holes for any birds inside and to see what I would have to do to solve the problem.  There were no birds that I could see or hear and all I needed was a vent, some screen, and a few deterrents to set up.

I should tell you that there was one woodpecker hole that was covered by a stainless steel square that had been installed years before when they experienced previous woodpecker problems, and right next to that hole was another recent hole that I was planning to cover and work with.  When I got up the ladder I started like I would have any other time, I stood below the hole and knocked on the wall to be sure nothing was inside before I covered it up.  When nothing flew out I got to work; it was all routine, I was going through the motions like I had at hundreds – maybe even thousands of woodpecker jobs before this.  What I wasn’t expecting was for a woodpecker to fly out from behind the steel that covered the hole from years ago.  It got right into my face and startled me so badly that I fell backwards off of my ladder. Luckily, I was only about 12 feet off the ground so I wasn’t seriously injured, but I definitely had the wind knocked out of me and my ego cut down a few notches.  Over my 17 years trapping there have been quite a few animals that have sent me tumbling, but a woodpecker was a first; I guess you just never know what to expect in this business.

A Blast from the Past

When you buy an older house you expect it to come with quirks like maybe it’s haunted or the doors are on backwards; we expected these kinds of quirks, but we were not expecting bats in the attic.  This house was built in the 1800’s and the attic is actually HUGE, so in reality we were prepared for the possibility of there being bats in the attic so we had an inspection done to check the house for any kinds of wildlife problems.  The inspector came out an hour later and gave us the all clear. No bat problems anywhere.

Two weeks later and here we are.  Six days ago I went to the basement to put some boxes away and I found a dead bat on top of the shelves; three days I had to pull a dead bat out from behind the stove when I started to smell something heating up as I cooked dinner.  From six days ago until now, I have found 8 bats dead in my house.  I thought to myself, ‘this has to be a coincidence, the house doesn’t have a bat problem!’ I started to dig around to find out if these dead bats were just old or if we were dealing with something larger altogether.  I didn’t have any luck finding any live bats and I was starting to become more hopeful that there wasn’t a bat problem at all, until I got to the attic.  I cracked open the door and shone my flashlight around the large space; I could see that there was definitely guano covering the floor so I moved my light up towards the ceiling and I almost screamed.  What had to be more than 100 bats were hanging peacefully from the rafters.

I am so unbelievably upset!  Not only are there bats in the attic of my house, but the inspector that was supposed to look for the bats was either incompetent or he lied straight to my face!  There is no way that a problem this extreme just happened in the last two weeks, especially since we actually moved in a week ago and we started finding bats immediately!  Okay, what I need is to first take a deep breath, and second is some serious help.  I need someone to get these bats out of the attic before I lose my mind and burn this house down.  I have been patiently dealing with the quirks of my (new) old house, but I cannot handle this without some professional help; be it a therapist or bat control. I need SOMEONE.

A Watery Grave

I think there might be a dead animal in the crawlspace of my house? About two weeks ago I started to smell something strange when I was in the kitchen but I kind of passed it off as just bad food or even my imagination.  The problem is that it has only gotten worse and I cleaned out my fridge and all of the cupboards and pantry, so I know it’s not rotting food.  It’s the worst around the sink so I even had my plumber come and clean out the lines but he said they were good as new, and when I mentioned the smell he didn’t think it was coming from the pipes, but the crawlspace.

Earlier this year I noticed a couple of raccoons running out from the side of my house, and when I checked it out I found a small gap between the house and the dirt and when I shined a light down it, I could see into the crawlspace.  I wasn’t sure then if the raccoons were living there because I had never heard anything, but now I think that that might be what the dead animal smell from the crawlspace is.  We had some really heavy rain towards the middle of February that caused the crawlspace to flood, and if the raccoons really were living down there, it’s possible that when it flooded one couldn’t get out and drowned.

So really, my concerns are doubled.  First, that there is possibly a dead animal in the crawlspace, and second that there still might be other raccoons living down there (with the corpse ick!).  I’m trying to find someone to come out and see if either of those things are true, and to fix them afterwards.  I just want to go back to living in a clean, fresh kitchen when I didn’t worry about animals living and dying in my crawlspace and my only concern was flooding.  That is what I need, can anyone help!

Tunnel Trouble

I’m 99% positive there are voles in my lawn; that or aliens that look like voles are creating aimless crop circles into my grass (I wish it was the aliens).  Two weeks ago in between the winter storm breaks, the snow at my house started to melt and I noticed that there were long stretches of dead grass cutting through the green stuff.  It wouldn’t have made me worry except that it was all over the lawn.  In almost any patch I uncovered you could see dead grass, and that was only the beginning.

Within a couple of days of noticing the dry strips, my cat started bringing home dead mice.  Except they weren’t mice, their ears were smaller and tails were shorter, I was a little baffled because I didn’t know what my cat was bringing home!  I figured that the two had to be connected because they showed up around the same time, so I did my research.  It didn’t take that long to solve the mystery, five minutes on Google and I knew: there were voles in my lawn.  I learned a couple of things like voles are attracted to moisture, making them more common in winter and spring months; and that they can carry a deadly virus called the Hauntavirus.

Once I read that last part, I was freaked out.  Not only were these things killing my lawn and gardens, but my cat had already killed and eaten four of them and they could kill us back with some virus!  That’s when I started trying to get rid of them myself,  I bought some poison at an IFA in town and tried my best to apply it to my lawn, but after a week: no luck.  The tunnels were expanding and my cat killed two more, so now I’m looking for a professional.  I haven’t really been able to find anyone with a slogan that says “Got Voles in your Lawn, We Can Help!” (which would be useful), but I’ve called a couple of wildlife technicians and things are looking up; hopefully by the time spring hits for good, they’ll be gone.

Grandma on the Defense

There are two skunks living under the deck in my backyard and I need for someone to get rid of them.  They’ve burrowed a hole down underneath the deck and you can hear them down there right around dusk scuffling around.  There haven’t been any instances where they’ve sprayed and caused a problem with smell – although there is definitely a skunky tang to the air around the deck especially early in the morning.  I realize that you probably think if they’re not spraying and causing any harm why can’t I just leave them there, but I hope any rational person would understand my dilemma of needing them gone without any further explanation.

The real problem is my granddaughter.  My daughter leave little Alyssa with me when she goes to work in the morning and we spend the day together.  She loves to be outside and will play through all hours of the night if I let her, and I used to entertain her energy and enthusiasm but now I’m too worried about the skunks under the deck to let her play outside without careful supervision.  I don’t want them to crawl out from under the deck and spray or attack my sweet girl.  She’s so innocent and sweet she still tries to pet every animal she sees so that’s a very real concern for me. I just want to protect her.

I’m in a pretty residential area or I would have my husband take care of this problem himself.  I assume trapping them will be fairly easy; they walk the same small path every night when they leave and the only way they can access the deck is through one small hole.  But, if I trapped them myself I’d have no clue what to do with them.  I need help.  Help protecting my home and my grandbaby!

Undisclosed Infestation

Personally, when I’m buying houses I prefer that they don’t come with raccoons in the attic, but maybe that’s just me.  We bought the house in December, and granted the raccoons didn’t move in until late January, but according to the neighbors this was not the first time raccoons had gotten into the house’s attic; and I am very frustrated that it was never mentioned once when we were looking into the house!  At one point the realtor even asked about a strange smell coming from the attic, and the owner acted oblivious to what it was!

When the smell started to get worse and small sounds started coming from the attic, I went to investigate, and I was shocked by what I saw.  The entire attic was in shambles!  There were raccoon feces everywhere, torn insulation, ripped up dry wall, and a hole directly through the roof to the outside.  I was in a disgusted trance, looking at the entire mess; truthfully I didn’t think it could get any worse; until I heard a throaty growl coming from the far corner.  My eyes met the large, furrowed face of a mother raccoon, right there in my attic.  It took me about 20 seconds to realize what I was seeing and to get the hell out of dodge.

For the last month-and-a-half, my wife and I have been watching the attic carefully.  We’ve seen the raccoon leave several times during the night, and once, when she was up early enough, my wife saw it going back in from the hole I saw.  It’s obvious that this problem isn’t just going to solve itself; I did a little research and apparently raccoons mate around January, meaning that this lone raccoon could be pregnant and just waiting to pop out 2-5 new raccoons into the attic!  I’m not even a father of a human child yet, I am NOT ready to deal with baby raccoons, especially not in my attic!

Old MacDonald had a Farm

There are pigeons in my barn, and it is getting out of control.  Living on a farm I am pretty darn used to seeing animals around, and outside of my personal livestock of horses, pigs, a few head of cattle, I’ve also got chickens, turkeys, barn cats, and a couple of dogs running around.  I get along well with animals and respect the positive way they can impact my land by helping with insect and rodent control and keep food from going to waste.  When I first saw the pigeons in the barn, I figured that they’d help with just about the same things as the rest of the animals do so I let them nest in the upper level.  Obviously, I was wrong.

When it started out, I found about 3 or 4 pigeons in the barn, just casually roosting on the roof.  Later that evening is when I discovered that they were nesting in the hay storage at the top of the barn, but I figured they would help control any ticks and mites that would get into the hay.  What I didn’t realize, was that pigeons can actually have bird mites in their nests!! They got everywhere, all of the animals were itching and scratching, it was a nightmare.  After that I tried to shoo the birds away and left poison pellets out for them to eat.  But my plan failed.

A year-and-a-half later, I’m still here with the same pigeon problem, only now it has more than quintupled in size! My original 4 birds has now grown to nearly 30.  Having a few pigeons in the barn was annoying, but this is absolutely mad.  The cats will kill a few now and again but not nearly enough; that’s what I get for teaching them to leave the chickens alone I guess.  Even worse, the pigeons have learned not to eat the pellets I set out and I’m too slow of a shot to kill them all.  I need some help, please!

It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog World

There is a skunk in my yard and he is at war with my dogs. It started about two weeks ago after we had about 3 days of hard rain.  The skunk was denning underneath our shed out back, and I think that the rain may have flooded it out which is why we’re just now seeing activity from it.  The problem is that now that it’s out it is wandering around our property and we have two small dogs.  Needless to say the two types of animals do NOT get along.

Even though I know the skunk is out and about, the sightings are scattered.  We will smell him long before we see him, especially with the dogs.  It has been a nightmare dealing with it, if we let them out and forget to watch them they’ll be long gone, chasing after the skunk before we realize it and can stop them.  In two weeks, they have each been sprayed twice; the hydrogen peroxide and baking soda are practically all gone from using them so much and I can still smell the skunk lingering in their fur.         I’m not even sure if the skunk is in the yard or if it’s hiding out under the shed still.  I know that when I let the dogs out the immediately head for the foundation of the shed, but they just sniff and don’t usually bark or scratch.  When they see the skunk, though, they go absolutely bananas!

We need help getting rid of this thing.  The skunk is turning our backyard into a war zone, world war three is happening: dogs vs. skunk!  I’ve looked up skunk traps and skunk repellents, but it seems unlikely to me that they would help get the skunk out of my yard for good.  I’d rather have him trapped and relocated so that I know he’s gone.  I need a professional skunk trapper and I don’t even know if that’s a real job!