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Humane Animal Removal Process: an Interview with Ned Bruha of The Skunk Whisperer

By Ned Bruha

Tell us a little bit about your company and its foundation.

As a child, one of the first "jobs" I had was predator-proofing our chicken house and stopping chipmunks from burrowing into grave sites. After being bitten on my forehead by a chipmunk because I placed my head down to the burrow entrance, I fell in love with wildlife. I had no idea back then that a hobby and passion could also be a living.

In Oklahoma it started as a hobby via assisting homeowners with removing uninvited guests from their attics and crawl spaces as well as assisting with the massive feral cat issues in different parts of Tulsa. After a while when your "real job" gets in the way of your hobby you realize it is not a hobby, it's not a job, it's a way of life and career.

What sorts of animals have you removed from homes?

At first, I trapped raccoons, squirrels, skunks, opossums and other animals and relocated them, pointed at the hole and told the homeowner that if they did not have that area fixed I would be back the next week, month, or year to take more of their money and animals. The problem was, I always did have to go back because no prevention was done. My father told me I was a thief and was robbing my clients and that he raised me better. He explained that I needed to find some way to keep animals from coming back and give lasting repairs. After experimenting with different repairs I found a "system" that, if used at every single property, every single time, we were able to get animals out and keep them out. Certain repairs such as complete roof replacement and totally residing homes were referred to reputable contractors who specialized in those areas. Squirrels, raccoons and skunks often introduced fleas to a person's home or business so we had to refer the pest control to pest control companies. A majority of our clients wanted natural and nontoxic pest control, so when these clients were lied to by the pest control companies we referred them to about poisons they were using being natural and nontoxic, we realized a new niche which allowed us to better take care of our clients and we started offering truly green pest control.

The most common animals we remove from homes and businesses are bats, snakes, mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons, opossums, skunks, armadillos and birds. On "special occasions", we are able to assist clients with unusual problems such as foxes, groundhogs, beavers, or muskrats living in or under a person's home.

What is the typical reason/way these animals are able to enter the home?

The most typical reason and way these animals enter a home or business is different on the East and West Side of Oklahoma. Builders in our Oklahoma City, Edmond and Norman area market use a soffit vent style that, until recently, was never used in the Tulsa market. This particular style of soffit vent is constructed with a thin wood frame and even thinner plastic screen. Attic dwelling animals such as raccoons, opossums and squirrels can practically sneeze on the thin screen and call your home their own. Oklahoma City builders constructing new homes in Tulsa area utilizing these vents are now inadvertently training these same animals to call attics their home. In short, the Oklahoma City area market's number one entry point is this style of soffit vent; the second most common entry point is any place on a roof where the roof and soffit meet and makes a triangle (most common entry point in homes on the East side of the state); the third most common entry point is any attic screen or roof vent. The most common entry point for skunks, rats and other crawl space dwelling invaders is through the crawl space door or crawl space vent. Occasionally we get "fun" projects where a raccoon, squirrel or opossum are entering a home via the crawl space and climbing into the attic to nest.

What is the process of removing the animal?

Traditional wildlife removal methods dictate trapping the animal and relocating or killing it. We prefer not to use either of these popular methods. We prefer to do proper and preventative repairs and manipulate the animals to leave and take their young after exiting through a spring loaded one way door. This is a three step process that works as long as we are allowed and able to do all preventative repairs. For property owners, this is a more cost effective method in the long and short run.

What measures are taken to ensure the animal is not hurt?

The majority of our clients could care less if the animal we remove from their property is killed or relocated; others just simply do not want to know and some people insist that the animals are killed. Our company does not kill anything because we believe there is always a non lethal method to remedy a situation that is just as cost effective. After years of complaints from rescues and wildlife rehabilitators, we finally started offering trapping and relocation of wildlife. Our niche inside our niche industry is keeping animals together as a family unit, not dumping orphans on non-profit wildlife rehabilitators and truly natural and non toxic pest control. Our attention to detail and micro management of new and old buildings allows us to successfully keep pests out forever without having the family feel as though they have to evacuate the house or business during this process.

In the state of Oklahoma, when you go to purchase a home, most people choose to have it inspected. Oklahoma inspectors cannot comment on anything that the state has not provided them specific training for. In the state of Oklahoma, inspectors are not given wildlife training, only pest control training. Because of this loophole with Oklahoma inspections and many homeowners not being honest enough on their disclosure statements (the line that says "Is there anything else you have had a problem with in this house that you have or have not remedied?"), we find that 40% of all new and old home purchases have or recently had wildlife problems, and upon investigation, 70% of those homes have physical proof that the previous owner(s) or builder attempted to remedy the problem with inadequate, obvious physical repairs. In the state of Oklahoma, our company cannot provide a "pre-purchase inspection" without also being a public adjuster and submitting a conflict of interest disclosure statement to the client. Buyer beware. We have quite a few clients who will call us first after they purchase a home to come and pest proof their new newly built or old home because of homes they had issues with in the past.

What is the best way to contact you and your company?

Our website for wildlife removal and control is www.totalwildlifecontrol.com and our pest control website is www.nontoxicpestcontrol.com . These websites have a massive amount of educational do-it-yourself options as well as even more insight on preventative measures all homeowners should take. Our Oklahoma City market phone number is 405-905-9453, and our Tulsa market number is 918-261-4444.

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Illiana Wildlife

What a good carreer you're having out there. Removing wildlife animals such us squirrels, raccoons, etc. is a tough job. But it's good to hear that you are providing solutions for families and

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Phone: 405-905-9453

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