Poor skunk caught in two rat traps

Larger animals being caught in rat trap - a growing problem since the invention of the "new and improved" rat and mouse snap traps with serrated jaws. 

Unlike the the old fashioned smooth-edged snap traps that larger animals could slip out of, these newer traps have a stronger grip and "teeth" that make it impossible for animals to escape.

This young skunk ventured into a yard that had snap traps set outdoors by a barbecue grill that rats had been attracted to. Drawn by the smell of the grill or the rodents or the peanut butter bait, this poor skunk got both its front paws caught  - just a horrible accident and so avoidable.

Snap traps are not intended for use outdoors without being inside a protective case to prevent other animals from caught and injured. Unfortunately, as was the case in this situation, there was nothing on the packaging or in the instructions warning the consumer of the potential risk to other animals and the precautions necessary to avoid something like this from happening.

WES is petitioning the manufacturers of these types of traps for better labeling so accidents like this one - which could cost this skunk its life, don't happen.

Clearly preventable!

Please, add your voice, here:


Local media coverage, HERE.

Another cutie

Another adorable deer mouse evicted from a home in Prunedale, CA after we shored up all of the entry points.

Who cares?

Brush mouse.

We care! A lot of people care!!!

We were rodent-proofing a home in Carmel Valley, shoring up the exterior, making sure no more rodents could get in, and then live-catching the ones that were left inside the attic, when we discovered a new (new to us) species of mouse - a brush mouse! Just adorable!!!

Finding this native mouse, along with a couple of non-native roof rats, made me wonder how pest control companies determine the species they're killing when they set out poison, BECAUSE rodenticide labels specify which species the poison can be used to kill, and, per the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the label is the law.

As you can see, in this label the target species are named - but so are species that should not be targeted by this product in California...  they're marked with an asterisk.

So, I was curious how this would be handled by the agencies that regulate and enforce pesticide use. How do they ensure non-targets - like the native brush mouse - aren't harmed?

I started by calling the Structural Pest Control Board Enforcement Unit - they kindly directed me to the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner's Office and after explaining I was intending to write a blog post about this and wanted to interview someone, I was transferred to Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Ken Allen.

What was his response to my concern that native species might be killed by use of rodenticides aimed specifically at certain non-native species? He tried convincing me that native species have their own niche and would probably not likely be around residential areas and in homes.

Really? Seriously?

But, the most memorable comment was his response to my concern that, unless pest control operators do their due diligence and make sure there are no native species present, then native species, like the brush mouse, will be poisoned. To which he replied, "Who cares!"

Mr. Allen, we care. Californians, care.

The conversation degraded from there and he postured, neither he nor anyone from the Commissioner's office would be interviewed on this subject.


Mother opossum entrapped for days

Today we received a call about an opossum that was causing quite a disturbance at a home in Watsonville. The resident explained how the animal was getting inside a converted garage - now used for storage, and pulling things off shelves and defecating all over the place. At the time of the call they said they could see the animal tucked back on a shelf sleeping, and it looked like there were a couple of young ones.

Evolution of a barn owl nest box

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Creating a safe and sound environment for barn owls to raise their young has been, and I suspect it will continue to be, a journey of its own.

Teco & Lotte

Welcome to the Teco and Lotte Chronicles... In December, 2016 we installed a barn owl nest box at the Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing California - part of the restaurant owner's commitment to sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. A pair of resident barn owls took to the box quickly. By January, the first egg was laid. Check back for frequent updates and happenings inside the nest. View the live stream on YouTube at Teco & Lotte.

Barn Owl Nest Boxes - Size Matters

To those who build and/or install or promote barn owl nest boxes, 

This is a request to come together and agree on minimum overall size requirements and entry hole dimensions and placement.

PRODUCT REVIEW: Crenova iScope Waterproof Inspection Camera

By Rebecca Dmytryk

In our line of work, sometimes we need to inspect inside walls or other inaccessible spots to locate trapped or nesting animals. The Crenova iScope was recommended by a colleague, and seems to be a decent tool for the job, and, at $20.00 on Amazon - you just can't beat the price.

Mouse in the house

I just have to share good moments, working with people who share our compassion for animals.

This morning, one of our clients called to give me an update. We'd rodent-proofed their home over a week ago, sealing up all the gaps and possible intrusion points and making sure there weren't any large animals living under the home.

DIY humane rat and mouse eviction

Ridding one's home of mice and rats can be a bit labor intensive, frustrating at times, but, once completed, the home should be rodent-free for many, many years.

The following post describes how to protect your home from rats and mice, for good, without using poison or other lethal means. 

A picture worth a thousand words

This picture was sent to us by someone worried about a coyote in their neighborhood.

Do you see what this is?

It's a coyote suffering from mange - an infestation of mites has caused the animal to lose fur and break out in sores. The coyote's ears indicate how cold and miserable it feels. 

Look what it's standing next to. A poison bait station for rodents. 

Perhaps the coyote is waiting for its next meal - another poison-laced mouse or rat. 

Could this be the cause of this poor animal's failing condition? 

Opossum in a garage...

Today we were called out to remove an opossum that had found its way into a garage, squeezing under a slight opening under the front door. 

It had made itself at home, probably venturing out during the night to do its 'possum-thing, eating slugs and snails and foraging for other edibles, which, unfortunately too often, includes pet food left out overnight.

What do you think about coyotes in Laguna Beach?

There's a proposed plan before the City of Long Beach to increase trapping and killing of coyotes - blanket trapping in early spring to kill the pregnant females, and in fall to kill off the young of the year. 

Apparently, this plan was offered by Animal Pest Management - a pest control company that had been contracted with the city for its services but has since (a week or so ago) been terminated. The city replaced APM with Critter Busters. 

Long Beach Coyotes

By Rebecca Dmytryk

Image by Dru Bloomfield

Over the last few months, a group of Long Beach residents have become very vocal about the presence of coyotes in their neighborhoods, demanding coyotes be trapped and killed. It seems to be a relatively small group of individuals from two Facebook groups, Coyote Watch Long Beach and Coyote Watch Garden Grove, who have, since 2013, been leading a campaign to force state and local government to eradicate coyotes. 

Mother raccoon moves out during the day

Today, we went to work on a home in Pacific Grove, shoring up all the vents except for one so the mother raccoon inside could still come and go. The next step would be to apply a repellent barrier with a certain mix of essential oils to encourage her to move her babies to another location. Sometimes we install an electronic device in the crawlspace to add pressure.

Well, today, we didn't need to do any of that. The mother raccoon was so upset by us working around the exterior of her "den", that she decided to move one of her babies while we were on site.

Her intrusion point was above a window on the second floor, with very poor gripping points, so we placed two ladders to help her out, literally. Check out the footage:

Abandoned Magpie ducks

This weekend we collected two domestic ducks that had been abandoned at Westlake Park in Santa Cruz. The ducks were not being maintained - fed a proper diet, and they were aggressive towards wild waterfowl. 

On our initial visit to assess the situation, we found the two black and white ducks together, foraging along the shoreline of the small lake. From their coloration and upright carriage, we believe they are Magpies - a fairly unusual breed of domestic duck.

The Magpie duck is believed to have originated in Wales in the early 1900s, and was first imported to the United States in 1963.

The two ducks were a bit skittish, as though they had been chased, or perhaps someone had tried to capture them unsuccessfully. It took a few days before we were able to collect them.

They were transported to the local animal shelter where they will be fed and cared for until they are adopted.

Magpies are a hardy variety of domestic duck, living approximately 9-12 years. They are good layers, producing over 220 eggs annually and they are active foragers, eagerly consuming slugs and snails and insects. A great addition to a home farm.

Quiet restored

This week, HWC was called to collect two un-owned Indian peafowl from a quiet residential area in the hills above Soquel, CA.

The Indian peafowl is found in the drier lowland areas of Sri Lanka on the Indian subcontinent. It has been introduced to many parts of the world by collectors and often, as in this case, they are allowed to roam freely, establishing feral populations.

The two males - one white and the other sporting the standard metallic blue-green colors, wandered into the rural subdivision a few weeks ago, and stayed. With their loud calls at dawn and a bad habit of hopping onto parked cars, their presence soon became a nuisance.
Just captured - Mary and Barbara hold on tight to
the peacock as it's carried to the transport vehicle.

On Monday, we successfully captured the larger peacock. The younger, white peafowl was more skittish and elusive.

Yesterday, however, we were able to bait the bird close enough to capture. 

The birds were transported to Santa Cruz County Shelter where they will be available for adoption.

Take the Coyote Challenge!

By the time we're contacted, a coyote has often become a problem - there's been a loss or there's fear of an imminent attack. The animal is a perceived threat that must be removed without delay.

When it comes to coyotes, we find people are usually set in their misbeliefs and are far less willing to change their habits than with other species - less willing to adapt to living with these animals as part of their environment, less willing to invest in making modifications to their property even if that is what will solve the problem, yet, they are often quite demanding that something be done, admonishing local officials for not taking action to protect their home, family and pets.

For these people, we offer the Coyote Challenge.

The Coyote Challenge is our pushback to those who believe nothing less than lethal control will work. The Coyote Challenge is also a way for us to help those who truly cannot afford to invest in non-lethal control measures. 

In return, participants agree to share their account of the process - and the results - which we expect will be that their coyote problem has been resolved, for good.

With each challenge being documented from beginning to end, we see this as a great opportunity to help people and coyotes while gathering conclusive evidence that non-lethal control methods do work.

The Coyote Challenge officially launched last month and we have 3 applications in the review process.

We will be donating our time but supplies, equipment and associated travel costs will be covered through a fund that has been set up through Wildlife Emergency Services.

To apply for help through the Coyote Challenge, email help@humanecontrol.com or call 855-548-6263. Click the Donate button below if you'd like to contribute toward the fund that offsets the cost of equipment and such. 


So, this skunk walks into an office and...

This morning we were called about a skunk that was seen inside an office building. 

It wondered inside the building through a door that was left open and then apparently lost its way within the labyrinth of cubicles. 

It took shelter in a corner office. 

Workers closed the door and posted warning signs.

When we arrived, we found the adult skunk tucked back behind a large work station. The animal was bright and alert but unwilling to budge from its corner hiding spot. 

We decided to hold off until nightfall when the skunk would be more apt to move.  

Meanwhile, workers offered to bring in large sheets of plywood to build a corridor leading from the back corner office through the building to the closest exit. A good plan!

Duane and I returned after dark to find the plywood in place, creating a clear passage to the outside, but the skunk was still in its hiding spot.

Skunks can be very stubborn and difficult to move. Why should they comply, right? 

Skunks will tolerate an extreme amount of quiet nudging and poking and prodding without giving an inch. But air - breath - can sometimes get animals to move on.

We decided to give that a try rather than risk more aggressive tactics. We rigged a delivery system using a very long piece of thin plastic tubing - like you'd find at an aquarium store, and we attached it to a strip of wood.

Duane positioned the tip of the tube at the skunk's lower back region and gave it a little puff. 

Without lifting its tail, the skunk moved forward about three feet. 

After a few seconds, another puff of air sent the skunk out from behind the unit - it shot out of the office, down the corridor and out through the open doors. YES!

Outside, the skunk seemed to know right where it was as it shimmied through openings in a fence and off into the night where it belonged.

Check out the video: