Homeowners Watch In Horror

At Calgary Humane Wildlife Control (CHWC), we often hear complaints from clients that have used services of local pest control companies. The most common complaint is that even though the homeowner has spent hundreds of dollars, to have several skunks trapped on their property, they still have a problem. On average pest control companies charge $200.00 for every skunk they trap and remove. When you have an average sized skunk family (5-6), living under your front steps you can imagine how expensive it could get. But, this past summer one of our clients related an experience they had to endure that we thought should be conveyed to consumers.

It was a typical case, momma skunk and at least 2 babies under the front steps of a home. The homeowners didn’t want the skunks harmed, after all they were only doing what skunks do. After the homeowners called several pest control companies, they hired one that claimed it used humane practices when dealing with skunks. They arrived, trap in hand, on Friday afternoon to begin the job. The homeowner explained to CHWC that red flags starting going up as soon as they began to ask questions of the technician. His attitude made the homeowners feel he was unapproachable. “What will you do with the skunk once you catch it,” they asked. “Either take it and dump it outside the city somewhere, or kill it,” was the gruff reply. Well money had already exchanged hands so the homeowners decided to ride it out and see what happened. Hoping it would be a different technician that came to pick up the trap.

Later that night one of the skunks entered the trap and was discovered by the homeowner the following Saturday morning. They immediately called the pest control company. “We will be by on Monday morning to pick it up,” was the response. “We left plenty of bait in the trap, so the skunk will be just fine.” “But what about water,” the homeowner questioned. Again, “it will be just fine,” was the response

It was very sunny and hot that weekend. Temperatures were in the high 20s – 30sC and while most of us looked for ways to cool down these homeowners watch a skunk thrash around in a trap that sat in the sun all day. The homeowners didn’t know if it was the momma skunk or one of the babies that had been trapped. Babies would be close to full grown at the time of this occurrence. Nonetheless, the homeowners were afraid to approach the trap, to move it out of the sun, fearing they might get sprayed. Besides, isn’t that why they hired a “professional”?

Well Monday couldn’t have come fast enough for the homeowners. After watching the skunk thrash around inside the trap for more than 2 days a technician from the pest control company finally arrived, only to remove what the homeowner believed was now a dead skunk. The pest control company was then fired.

There are ethical protocols surrounding the live trapping of animals, protocols that CHWC is very familiar with and respectful of having had first hand experience in research projects. These protocols stipulate that an animal should not be left in a live trap for longer than 6-8 hours. During the various breeding season these times should be shortened, so babies are not left without mother’s attention, and therefore food, for too long. Consumers are generally not familiar with ethical protocols surrounding the live trapping of animals, but after watching a skunk thrash around in a trap, with no response from the pest control company the homeowners in this story knew what they were forced to watch was cruel and inhumane. After firing the pest control company the homeowners phoned the Calgary Humane Society/SPCA to file a complaint against the pest control company. Calgary Humane Wildlife Control has presented our program to the Calgary Humane Society who very much approves of our cause and approach to coping with urban wildlife. They therefore referred CHWC to these homeowners explaining they would receive professional, permanent results.

Urban Wildlife Control is not government licensed, nor regulated. Therefore when hiring a company to help with your unwanted house guests, ask a lot of questions to ensure you are hiring an experienced and knowledgeable wildlife removal company. Call your local Humane Society to check for complaints against a company, or who they would suggest. And most importantly, don’t hire a company that is not willing to give you a written guarantee the problem will not reoccur. Humane wildlife control requires in depth knowledge through extensive training and experience. Understanding an animal’s biology and behaviour during the different seasons is a prerequisite to successfully solving wildlife intrusions and preserving customer satisfaction

This story does have a happy ending though. Once CHWC got involved, all the homeowner’s concerns were addressed respectfully and in full. Our technician knew that babies were all very close to being full grown and were capable of surviving on there own, if it was indeed their mother that had died in the trap. Within a couple days the problem had been solved using science-based techniques. The skunks left, never to be seen again.

So, if you or someone you know is experiencing a wildlife intrusion problem, remember, for humane approaches to wildlife conflict resolution, the only call you will have to make is to Calgary Humane Wildlife Control, 587-888-9453 (WILD).

By Ken Cheek, CHWC