We were interviewed recently with our opinion in a local Newspaper Editorial about Wildlife Services in Berrien County, Michigan. As a longtime wildlife operator and educated community member, our owner Jim Sheffield has witnessed both the good, the bad, and the difficulty with County led Animal County nuisance removal programs. None the less, such areas blessed with an abundance of natural wildlife and woodlands are also often cursed with the management duties for both public areas and private property. Having an educated and experienced decision making process while handling each wildlife situation with the best practices for safety and quality cannot be underestimated. Due to the importance of such issues effecting thousands of residents each year in this part of Michiana, we are glad the local newspapers are examining the issues raised and consequences of public-ally funded programs and their effect on the overall nature of wildlife control.
You can see our company rebuttal to the below article – Follow to Read Our Rebuttle
Posted: Sunday, November 29, 2015 5:00 am
By JOHN MATUSZAK – HP Staff Writer
Jim Sheffield, a licensed animal trapper, thinks that Berrien County’s Animal Control Department is “killing with kindness.”
And when you do that, Mother Nature takes over and not-so-nice things can happen, according to Sheffield, who operates Awesome Critter Gitters in Niles.
“There’s more to it than hooking up a trap and setting it out,” Sheffield said. “You can’t go into someone’s house with pets and children and not know what you’re doing. And I guarantee that no one in the county knows what they’re doing.”
Lt. Joe Thayer, with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, disagrees, and says that Berrien County animal control officers are capable of handling most wildlife situations.
Berrien County Animal Control has a DNR Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Control Permit.
Obtaining the permit requires additional training for officers, Thayer said. “You have to prove you know what you’re doing.”
He said that the training is more rigorous than what would be required for a nuisance control company just starting up.
“They’re more than qualified,” Thayer said of the Berrien County officers.
The DNR permit allows animal control to “upon verifying a complaint of damage or nuisance, effect control measures at any time of year within … the dwelling house, associated buildings, and associated yard used for domestic purposes.”
It allows animal control officers to remove “bats that are not threatened or endangered; coyote, fox, weasels, mink, raccoon, skunk, opossum, woodchuck, badger, muskrat, squirrels, ground squirrels, rabbits, English sparrows, feral pigeons, starlings, and crows.”
The permit further states: “All animals, which the permittee is authorized to take, shall be taken and disposed of in a manner to ensure humane handling or killing.”
Sheffield, who has been trapping animals since he was a teenager, does not think that county employees are qualified or equipped to do that job adequately.
One of the unintended consequences of trapping animals, such as raccoons, is that the mother could be removed, leaving the babies behind to starve and dehydrate, Sheffield said.
Sheffield explained that he and his crews have the experience and the equipment to go into an attic and discover whether offspring remain.
He uses a $4,000 infrared camera to detect, through body heat, anything living inside walls or under floorboards. “I can see termites with this.”
A probe with a camera at the end Sheffield calls a “sea snake” can see under boards and other tight spaces.
Another handy device is useful in finding dead animals. “We use our noses for that,” Sheffield said.
He shared that he has a method for getting the mother to bring the baby coons out of the nest, that he declined to reveal as a proprietary trade secret. If the young animals are found, Sheffield said he releases them together with the mother in one of six designated areas he uses that provide enough food and water.
The DNR’s Thayer said he is confident that Berrien County’s officers know how to respond to a complaint without leaving any animals behind, and he was not aware of any problems along that line.
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