Duluth’s location in the Northwoods provides residents with ready access to vast wilderness. While this means us humans beings can enjoy the splendor of nature, it’s a two-way street. Animals, such as raccoons, squirrels, and skunks, from this landscape have ready access to your home, just as you have access to theirs. Spring is the time of year these critters look for a place to build a nest and rear their babies; and sometimes, your home can provide them with much needed shelter. Allen Eddberg is the owner of North Shore Wildlife Control and an experienced fur trapper. He sees a spike in business this time of year.
“We’re getting raccoon calls every day now,” Eddberg said. “People think raccoons hibernate in the house. Very rarely do we ever get a call in the fall that they’re coming in. It’s always in the spring, when they get ready to have their young.”
When an animal decides to nest in your house and have their young, there are many options to choose from to get it out. Professional, private companies provide experience and knowledge, but they often kill the critter and its offspring. If you do not wish to harm the animal, there are non-lethal methods to remove the animal and its babies from your house without costing any lives.
“There’s no sense in killing all those animals, their pelt is no good,” Eddberg said. “If there’s no sense in killing them, I ain’t killing them.”
Eddberg has a safe remedy for removing nesting raccoons.
“I’ll use this concoction that we have that smells like a male raccoon,” Eddberg said. “The male raccoon will kill the babies…. We’ll put that where (the mother)’s going in and out, she’ll bring that back to her nest with her and once she gets that in her nest, she’ll move them.”
But not all situations allow removing the animal without harming it.
“If she’s got a nest in there and we can’t get to those babies, I’ll tell them you might as well leave them until the babies start moving,” Aldrich said. “Because if we leave them and trap the mom, they’re gonna die and stink.”
But if this is not an option, for instance if you do not want pests to live in your house, rent-free, until the babies grow up, Eddberg won’t hesitate to remove it lethally.
“Don’t get me wrong, I trap (fur) all the time, also,” Eddberg said. “I got 303 beaver on the floor right now.”
North Shore Wildlife Control charges a flat rate of $105 to remove a raccoon. Prices on other pests, like skunks, run a little bit cheaper, at $85.
If you prefer the non-lethal route, Eddberg works with Wildwoods Rehabilitation, a non-profit animal rehab center in Duluth that takes injured and orphaned animals, nursing or raising them so they can be released back into the wild.
Ian Aldrich, a wildlife rehabilitation apprentice at Wildwoods, recalls a raccoon removal last week, where he worked with Eddberg to remove a raccoon from a Duluth home.
“The family in this house found out they had a raccoon in the crawlspace,” Aldrich said. “So they scared her out, put up a barrier to prevent her from going back in, and then they started hearing the babies crying.”
“I went and got the babies out,” Eddberg said. “We put them outside in a box so (the mother) could come out and get them. Well after a few days, it was so cold; she only went and took one. Therefore, I brought them to the rehab people.”
If you would like to remove the animal from your house, Wildwoods does not offer services to remove the critter. They focus on rehabilitating injured animals.
“We are not pest control people,” Aldrich said, “but we can suggest ways for people to get rid of their pests that’s best for both the animal and the person.”
In fact, your first course of action, in Duluth, might be to call the police department’s animal control agency. While this seems viable, the city’s Animal Control unit usually handles domesticated pets, according to the Animal Control Officer’s handbook the city provides online.
“So if you called animal control about an injured animal,” Aldrich said, “they’re gonna give you our number. We are technically not associated with anyone in town here. We are our own organization.”
The best course of action, according to Aldrich, is to find a way to trap the animal live, and if it is injured or unable to survive in the wild, to bring the critter to the rehab center, where they will take care of it until it can survive on its own.
“If you have an animal that needs help, call Wildwoods,” Aldrich said. “If you have an animal issue, call someone else.”
Wildwoods can provide advice to remove a healthy animal from your home quickly and harmlessly. This time of year, raccoons are a problem pest, and Aldrich provides a good remedy for removing a family that decides to make your house its new home.
“With raccoons, in particular the best way to do it is to take a radio, and put the radio in the space that they are at, and just turn it on,” Aldrich said. “And let it stay on for days. Then mom will go, ‘this isn’t a good spot,’ and she’ll take and move her babies to another nesting site she selected. And when she’s gone, you can seal it up and not have to worry about her babies.”
If you prefer not to remove the animal yourself, private companies provide services to get rid of pests. And removing them non-lethally is their first option.
Beau Michael Geer is a sales representative for Guardian Pest Solutions that provides service to all of Minnesota, and much of the country.
“We try to take care of any issues without any chemicals, first and foremost,” Geer said. “First we do live trapping…. I’ve trapped beaver, taken care of woodchucks, you name it. Any nuisance, pest or fur-bearing animal, we can get rid of.”
Guardian first uses a live trapping method to try and remove an animal, such as a raccoon, from your house.
“First we use a method called IPM,” Geer said. “Integrated Pest Management. What that means is taking care of an issue, without having to use any chemical.”
If they can trap the animal without harming it, they will release it far away from the city.
“Like, myself, I live by Prior Lake, Minnesota,” Geer said, “and if I caught something, I let a lot of animals out by my place.”
But if there is no option to safely remove the animal, such as if cannot be caught with a live trap or it is in a space where the animal cannot be reached, Guardian will resort to catching in lethally.
Geer said removing a mammal from your home will run you upwards of $90.