Franchise Owner Removes The Furry, The Burrowing And The Slithering

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A raccoon habitually comes to a Wilmington man's swimming pool and drinks the water. And he also leaves a calling card in the pool.

What can you do? The raccoon, or Procyon lotor, can carry rabies, so self-solution isn't at all advisable.

Instead, you might call in Critter Control, a franchise here that concentrates on trapping and removing common animals that can be a nuisance but also can do considerable damage to your home.

Ben Mitchell will come to your home, trap the animal and remove it to a safer place even back onto the owner's property if desired. By law, however, the raccoon must be destroyed, because of its rabies affliction, he said.

Among Critter Control's furry, burrowing and slithering quarry are opossums, snakes, deer, foxes, groundhogs, skunks, moles, birds, bats, and rats and mice. (Some people don't want to harm even these vermin, he said. The are moved.) "I am licensed by the state through the Wildlife Resources Commission," Mitchell said. "We are considered wildlife damage control agents." If you call him with a squirrel problem, for instance, "what we'll do is set up an appointment and, for $189, do a thorough inspection, looking for entry and exit holes, trying to determine what the animal is, and what holes and repairs you need," he said.

"In that inspection, we will set the traps" for seven to 10 days, to (get it out of the) home, or capture it alive" without the traps.

Critter Control, however, does not do repairs.

"If the damage is significant enough," Mitchell said, "you would have to contact your insurance company." Mitchell is one of those resourceful builders who morphed into another career as the economy laid low the Wilmington-area's real estate industry.

He grew up in Mississippi trapping and hunting, so he knows animals and came to Wilmington 17 years ago. The licensed contractor was a partner for 11 years with his father-in-law in Tommy Davis Construction.

"I've only owned the (Critter Control) franchise for two months," he said. "I had been chasing the franchise for two years." He said a good friend who had the franchise in Charleston told him about the business.

The friend also came out of the building business, Mitchell said, explaining that "it is similar to houses inspections, repairs and dealing with homeowners." The economy killed the contractor business, but Mitchell is happy now.

"I'm in something that I want to do, rather than I had to do," he said.

Critter control was started in 1983 by Kevin Clarke in Traverse City, Mich., Mitchell said. Clarke "was a chimney sweep, who answered a call from a client who couldn't find anyone to get a raccoon out of her attic. Kevin helped her out and Critter Control was born." Part of Mitchell's business is handling snakes that is, catching them and removing them from the property. But success is elusive, he said, because "by the time you get there, they're gone." One potential nuisance animal Critter Control doesn't do is alligators.

It's not the danger; it's the regulations concerning the protected species. Gator in your yard? Call the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Alligators are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act, and that precludes killing or disturbing them.

Game animals are also exempt from Critter Control's services.

Take deer. "We can't shoot them or trap them," but "we offer exclusions, netting, fencing, to discourage them." One of his recent jobs involved squirrels in the attic of a second home, whose owners live in Charlotte.

"The inspection took almost three hours," Mitchell said.

"The initial noise they heard was in their ceiling in the living room." Mitchell climbed into the attic and up onto the roof.

"They had squirrels in the attic, in the wall cavities, in the living room and in the crawl space," he said. "They were traveling from the roof through the walls into the crawl space." The damage? The wires were chewed, "all their insulation in the crawl space was destroyed." The squirrels got in, atypically, through a crawl space vent.

"Someone had run a piece of conduit through a vent behind a bush and just pushed a vent in instead of drilling a hole," Mitchell said.

"You could see the grease marks from the squirrels as they crawled over the vent hole." Other than his fee, Mitchell said he got a compliment from the lady of the house: "You're my hero."

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Critter Control Inc.
2170 Piedmont Rd.
Atlanta, GA

Phone: (520) 235-5184

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