Many species of area wildlife are experiencing record numbers in population levels. Coupled with the constant expansion of urban sprawl, this is causing a drastic increase in conflicts between property owners and animals. The media seems to thrive on negativity and they often portray a doom-and-gloom picture for nature and wildlife. This seems to have conditioned most people into believing that all animals are endangered and living in urban areas because they have nowhere left to go. Nothing could be further from the truth. Most animal species that are causing damage or health concerns are so abundant their natural habitats are at maximum capacity. The high number of animals in the wild combined with their ability to adapt is causing a migration into urban areas. Their numbers are steadily increasing in the cities, as they experience very little pressure from predators, other than an occasional Ford or General Motors product.
In order to address the problems associated with the drastic increase in nuisance wildlife problems, the IDNR designed the program which requires individuals or municipalities to be licensed to perform control methods. It is important to remember that these animals are protected by the state, and it is not legal for individuals without a class A, B or C wildlife control permit to trap or shoot any of these animals unless they have a sport hunting or trapping license and do so during open season. It is never legal to poison any animals managed by the IDNR. Federal law prohibits using any poisons for animals which are not listed on the product label. We are prohibited from using poisons or chemicals, and use only selective trapping methods or exclusion methods that provide an environmentally-friendly control program.
We also install chimney caps, heavy attic vent screens, vent covers, and perform
other exclusion work to keep animals from entering stuctures.
We provide gutter cleaning service, as many rodents are attracted to the seeds, acorns, and other food which accumulates in gutters. You can choose from a one-time cleaning or we can set you up for an annual contract for 2 or 3 cleanings per year, depending on location and types of trees present. This service also prevents water damage to foundations, roofs, soffits and siding.
Mother coon and 5 kits in attic
RACCOONS: Definitely the number one invader of homes and buildings. You may reduce the chances of raccoon problems by never leaving pet food outside, and keeping secure lids on outside trash cans. Raccoon levels in Illinois are at an all time high, with population levels in excess of 70 per square mile in both wooded bottomlands and urban areas. Low fur prices during the past decade have greatly reduced the number of raccoons harvested during our annual winter fur trapping and hunting season. During the early and mid 1980’s, the annual Illinois winter raccoon harvest ranged from 350 to 400 thousand. The annual winter catch now only reaches from 80 to 120 thousand raccoons. That leaves about 300,000 “extra” raccoons each year which then multiply. They have now reached the point where they have become pests. They are omnivores, which means they eat meat and greens. They will eat almost any type of foods. Raccoons are nocturnal (active at night), and sleep during the day.
It is common for them to find their way into homes, often using attics for den sites. They will usually have their young in April, and the majority of calls we receive pertaining to raccoons in homes are from late March through June. They can tear their way through attic vent screens, and bend vent louvers to allow access into homes. They also use chimneys and fireplaces for den sites. They are able to reach the roof by climbing trees, TV towers, and gutter downspouts. They can climb right up a brick wall, and also often climb decorative porch trims. Trimming tree branches may help, but if they like your attic they will find a way to get there. The droppings and urine will not only stain ceilings and walls, but obviously also creates a health hazard. NEVER leave your garage doors propped partially open for pets, as that is a surefire method for attracting raccoons. You definitely wouldn’t want a raccoon to find it’s way into your living quarters. Believe it or not, they are closely related to bears and usually have a bad attitude to go along with their strength and agility. NEVER attempt to handle a raccoon.
We use cage traps to catch raccoons, placed at key points along the routes they travel to get to your home, and near the climbing points to the roof. We often mount the traps on the roof or near the entry point into the structure. Traps are almost never set inside the home or attic, as the raccoons can reach through the cages and cause damage to wiring and other items. We use a variety of baits, depending on the area population of cats and other non-target animals. The traps do not harm cats or other animals if they are accidentally captured. They can be released unharmed. It is very important to keep any children away from any captured animals, as the animals can be extremely aggressive while in the cage trap. State law requires traps to be checked every day.
Since 1999, it is no longer an option to relocate raccoons in Illinois. They must be destroyed due to the level of overpopulation and the potential dangers from disease. The only option is to release them on the same property where caught, within 100 yards of where captured. This alternative is not suggested, as the animal will go right back into your attic, or move into a neighboring home. All methods of trapping and disposing of animals are state regulated by the IDNR. It is also illegal to keep a raccoon or any other state-managed species as a pet.
GRAY SQUIRRELS - FLYING SQUIRRELS - FOX SQUIRRELS
CHEW HOLE ENTRY
FLYER IN ATTIC
SQUIRRELS:Some people like them at the feeders, while others despise them. They often find their way into the attic or soffits, especially in late winter/early spring as they prepare to have young. They can chew through wood and even aluminum, and should not be allowed to use any part of your home for den sites. As rodents, they chew on just about anything, and can cause a fire by chewing on electrical wires. They also create a fire hazard by building nests using dry leaves, twigs and other flammable materials. Squirrels are usually removed using small cage traps and relocated 15 to 30 miles to rural wooded habitat. The number of squirrels living in an attic can vary, but Grays are very territorial and usually only one "family" will be using a structure. Grays and reds are active during daylight hours, and can often be heard entering structures around sunset and leaving the structure at daylight. Flying squirrels are much smaller, and are nocturnal. They are noisier from 10 PM through 4 AM if they are in an attic. Flyers are often more "vocal" as they race around in the structures. Squirrels can be very challenging to keep out of an attic once they have established it as a den area. They often chew right through wood or other materials used for repairing holes. We use a heavy welded wire mesh and various other metal exclusion materials when dealing with squirrels, as they can be very persistent in their efforts to re-enter a structure.
A typical squirrel control program begins with several days of trapping to remove the resident squirrel family. Most of our squirrel traps are mounted on the roof or gutter areas, as we want to target the animals that are living in the structure instead of catching every squirrel in the entire neighborhood. One-way excluders are sometimes placed over the access points in conjunction with a good number of small cage traps placed near the entry/exit holes. These excluders allow the squirrels to exit but not re-enter the structure. Installing one-way excluders without a trapping program is a very poor method, as the squirrels will usually chew another hole somewhere else on the structure to get back inside, cusing even more damage to the home. After the trapping and removal program, we seal the entry points securely. Proper exclusion is an important part of any squirrel control program, as other squirrels will find the openings if not repaired or sealed. Some structures may have rotten wood, gaps along rooflines from warping, or other deterioration that makes it impossible to seal effectively. The left picture shows a typical chew hole through a previous sealing attempt by the homeowner. Center pic is a Gray in a gutter-mounted trap. Right pic shows a flying squirrel in an attic of a fairly new home. Flyers can enter very small openings to access the structure.
MOLES TRAPPING PROGRAMS FOR RESIDENTIAL OR COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES
MOLES: There are many myths and home remedies that people will try to eliminate moles, but none provide any solid results. Juicy Fruit gum, broken glass, hot pepper, moth balls, sonic gizmos, castor beans, poison peanuts, gummy worms, pellets, gases, garden hoses, grub control and many others do nothing more than relieve frustrations, as it "feels" like you are doing something. Scientific studies have proven trapping is by far the most effective control for mole damage. All the other gimmicks simply allow the moles to reproduce and become well-established in an area, which leads to even more damage as the population densities increase. Grub control is great for your lawn, but does nothing for mole damage control as their diet is primarily worms. Thinning down the grubs may actually create more damage, as the moles are forced to travel greater distances as they forage for food. Earthworms are a major part of their diet, and you certainly do not want to kill worms, as worms are the key to a healthy soil and lawn.
We offer 1 week or 2 week programs, depending on the size of your lawn and the amount of mole activity. Large properties or commercial landscapes may require custom-designed trapping programs for an effective mole control program. Mole activity is most noticeable in the spring, and that is the ideal time for an initial trapping program to eliminate the moles before they become well established (before they have young). Fall is another period when mole activity is common, and trapping moles in the fall is a good idea, as it reduces the amount of spring activity. Dead moles don't reproduce, so each mole caught in the fall may prevent as many as 4 or 5 in the spring.
The goal of mole control is to minimize lawn damage by preventing moles from becoming well established on your property. Since there are no scientifically-proven chemical mole control measures, moles must be dealt with as they arrive. Therefore, the goal is to trap as many moles as soon as possible. This will minimize or eliminate damages for varying periods of time. New mole activity should be dealt with as soon as it is noticed. Decades of studies verify this is the best way to minimize lawn damage. There are no proven, consistent methods of mole control in which one application can rid a lawn completely of moles. (Okay, paving your entire lawn will work, but blacktop or concrete is really not a popular landscape decor style). Chemicals and poisons will incur costs similar or greater than trapping programs, as they need constant reapplication. Trapping is much more effective without the potentially harsh environmental impact.
We use traps that have the clamping devices under the soil, and the triggers must be activated by movement from inside the tunnels (underground). This minimizes the possibility of children or pets being harmed by the traps. We sometimes use traps that are placed inside the mole tunnels (buried). These are often used along main sidewalks or outer edges of properties that may have high pedestrian traffic. All trap locations are marked with flags to allow landowners and lawn service technicians to be aware of the locations.
Some of the locations in Illinois and the St. Louis area that we provide mole removal services include Alton, Bethalto, Bunker Hill, Carlinville, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Fairview Heights, Gillespie, Glen Carbon, Godfrey, Granite City, Hillsboro, Litchfield, Maryville, O'Fallon, Roxana, Staunton, Wood River, and many other cities ranging from Springfield, Illinois down to the St. Louis area.
OPOSSUMS:Often found living under crawl spaces, they also like living under or in sheds, garages, and outbuildings. They may look ferocious, but they are not aggressive animals. They are shy and usually scurry away from anyone who gets near them. Since they usually have their mouth open or teeth showing, people assume they are evil terrors. The drool and rat-like tail also combine for an unfavorable first impression. Opossums are not cute in any way or form, which doesn't help their acceptance rating much when it comes to co-existing with us in our neighborhoods.
They often find their way into homes by crawling up through spaces along bathroom water pipes and drains, or enter basements and crawl spaces through gaps in foundations. They love to live under mobile homes, usually gaining access through gaps in the skirting. It is common to find insulation ripped out from around heating and cooling ducts, as they like to "nest" in those areas.
Opossums are caught using cage traps, and they can be relocated. They are a scavenger, and clean up a lot of nature’s messes by eating animal carcasses and dead insects. They also like fruits and vegetables. It is common to find them eating out of the dog or cat food bowls in the garage or dog pen, and they often end up inside a garbage can going through your scraps. They are nocturnal animals, so they forage for food at night. Even though they are fairly slow and docile, they will bite if handled.
GROUNDHOGS: These guys can cause a lot of damage by digging along foundations and under porches. They are vegetarians, and can wipe out a garden in a very short time. They will also consume many ornamental flowers and plants. They often dig dens under sheds and under wood piles. They usually never attempt to enter homes, and are very quick to scamper away when they see a person. They are active in the daytime hours. We catch them using cage traps, and they are relocated 10 miles or more to suitable habitat. They dig numerous dens which provide homes for many other types of wild animals, so instead of destroying them we prefer to relocate them to areas where they will benefit other types of wildlife. They are often mistaken for beavers when people see them standing on their back feet checking out their surroundings. They are smaller than beavers, and have little furry tails. Groundhogs live underground in dens on dry ground and are active during the day, as compared to beavers which live in lakes, ponds, and streams, have underwater entrances into their dens, and are active at night.
Beavers are water animals, and live in lakes, ponds, and streams. They are nocturnal, although during late fall they will sometimes be active during daylight hours as they work hard collecting hundreds of small trees for their winter food supply. Beavers are known for the damages they cause to trees, and also create flooding problems and crop damage. In most areas of Illinois, they dig bank dens into shorelines, and can tunnel through dams of lakes and ponds when digging dens. It is obvious when beavers are present, as they cut down many trees along the shorelines. When living in a man-made lake or pond, they often plug the spillway tubes with sticks and mud, creating a major problem with the potential for destructive erosion of the dam in the event of a hard rain.
Beavers are caught using underwater traps which quickly drown the animals. Their numbers are at a higher level in Illinois than at any time in recorded history. They are not relocated, as there are beaver colonies established in almost every major stream and waterway. Beavers are very territorial, and will not allow other beavers into an area that contains an active colony. Any animals relocated can only be released on private ground with written permission, and in 30 years of beaver trapping I have yet to find a property owner who wants them in their lake or pond. When the wild fur market is favorable, they are often trapped during the winter season for fur value, which helps with damage control at no cost. Out of season they are trapped by commercial license, incurring removal costs as they have no fur value during spring, summer, or fall.
MUSKRAT CONTROL PROGRAMS
MUSKRATS:Muskrats are extremely common in Illinois, as they are able to exist in lakes, ponds, streams, or any swamp or marsh that holds water year-round. They cause shoreline damage by burrowing into the banks of lakes and ponds. Their diet consists of water plants, but they do not cut down trees like beavers. They also feed on crops that border waterways, and will often dig channels reaching 50 to 100 feet long through shallow water areas to reach feeding areas. Sometimes muskrats will build huts using vegetation. These are food storage piles which are built in late fall allowing them to feed after freeze-up. They access the interior through underwater entrances.
Muskrats often go unnoticed until the dens start caving in along the shoreline. Those dens are no longer used, which means they have already dug new ones elsewhere in the pond. Their reproduction rate is very high, as females will have 2 litters per year, ranging from 3 to 6 per litter. It doesn't take long for muskrats to attain damaging levels if left uncontrolled.
We provide muskrat control programs for lakes, ponds, or waterways. Subdivision lakes, golf course ponds, and other manicured shoreline properties are often damaged by the burrowing activities of muskrats. Muskrats are trapped using small underwater traps which are safe from dogs, cats, and other domestic animals. If possible, property owners with lakes or ponds should have a fur trapper check for muskrats every fall, and thin them out during winter fur trapping season to help prevent damages. They can be trapped for fur value during a 10 week period from mid-November through mid-January, but have no value out of season. During spring, summer, and fall they must be controlled through a commercial program. Costs for commercial muskrat control vary greatly depending on the size of the lake, pond, or waterway, and the number of days necessary to perform a removal program. It is illegal to shoot a muskrat at any time as they are a managed fur resource.
OF COURSE WE DO SNAKES!
ANIMAL ACCESS = PROBLEMS
We handle many different types of nuisance wildlife calls. Snakes can sometimes be difficult to remove, as they are usually gone or out of sight when we arrive at a home with a snake inside. Unless you are certain of the snake's location, it is often impossible to locate them as they can be between walls or in other areas where they are not able to be detected. We definitely catch a lot of snakes each year, but you should not be alarmed if you see a snake outdoors around your home. They are very beneficial as some control mice and rats and others consume insects like roaches and crickets. We can provide information on how to make your property less attractive to snakes, and tips on reducing small rodent numbers to lessen the food supply for snakes.
Skunks are possible to trap using cage traps, but it is mandatory that skunks be destroyed due to the fact they may carry rabies. We have removed single skunks and even mothers with young when they decided to live in crawl spaces of homes. They also often fall into basement window wells and can't get out. Contrary to popular belief, skunks are very clean animals. They are meticulous about keeping their fur neat and clean, and constantly groom themselves. The smell associated with skunks is their primary defensive "weapon" which is sprayed when they are threatened. Skunks are one of the most common carriers of rabies, and even dead ones should never be touched without gloves, as the rabies virus can be transmitted by touching the fur which they clean with their saliva.
We have removed red foxes from urban areas, as they really enjoy eating the neighborhood house cats. It is becoming more common to see red foxes having litters in sheds and under porches or decks in the cities. They can thrive in an urban environment, co-existing quite well with the neighborhood residents. The high coyote population is driving many foxes into the cities for protection, as coyotes kill foxes as both compete for the same prey. If you notice bird wings, feathers, and small animal skins and fur laying around the yard in late spring, you most likely have a mother fox with pups living nearby. The mother foxes appear very thin and even look sick or mangey during the time they are feeding their pups. The stress of nursing and hunting for an entire family takes its' toll on her beauty for several weeks.
Chipmunks can be a problem when they discover your bird feed in the shed or garage, and it is common for a sizeable family of chipmunks to inhabit a fairly small area around a home or neighborhood. Like mice and squirrels, it is common for chipmunks to chew and damage wiring of vehicles that are parked outside, and like mice, they sometimes fill vehicle air filters with food such as acorns or dog food. They also dig under sidewalks and foundations, which can cause damages by allowing water to undermine the concrete. Winter freezing may then cause the sidewalks or foundations to crack. On the plus side, they are a daytime animal that can be very enjoyable to watch as they scurry around your backyard on their daily feeding activities.
We are not able to work with deer, ducks, geese, or other migratory birds. If you have an unusual wildlife problem that we are not able to control, we may be able to put you in touch with someone who can provide assistance. We do not pick up dead animals, and we do not take calls for domestic animals like dogs and cats. Local animal control handles domestic animal problems.