Growing up on a small farm, David Easton began trapping small animals before he was a teenager. As unwanted creatures would get into the family’s garden or barns, he would set traps, catch the intruders and release them into the wild.
It was something he enjoyed, but he never thought much about making a career out of trapping.
Then, in the 1980s, a local conservation officer asked if he would be interested in catching animals that had gotten into other people’s homes. Surprised, Easton said yes.
“I never had really heard of it much — animals getting into attics and foundations and such — but he said they got quite a few calls and so he started referring them to me and I began to see the need.”
Nearly 30 years later, Easton continues to catch animals that have made their way into places homeowners rather they not be as the owner of Murphysboro-based Easton’s Wildlife and Mole Control.
“We remove problem wildlife that people have in their houses or around their homes or farms,” he said. “We remove the wildlife and then we try to offer solutions to alleviate the problem or reduce the possibility of re-entry in the future.”
Easton added that the company does a great deal of what he calls “animal exclusion” work, closing holes and doing other repairs with wildlife proofing in mind. As such, his work calls on his carpentry skills.
“The animals may have just found a soft spot that they tore open and so sometimes we do a temporary patch until the homeowner can get a new roof or siding or soffit. We try to work with the customer on an individual basis to get their home as animal-proof as possible and reduce the chances of reentry,” he said. “When I first started out, the carpentry was not on my radar. I was just there to catch the animals, but when I got into it I saw that the job is not done properly if you leave the hole.”
Easton said that when he first started the business, he continued to work full-time in corrections at night and built the business during the day. Today, he’s solely focused on wildlife control and has a team of six employees.
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The company has worked with a variety of animals ranging from snakes to a pet iguana which had escaped its enclosure as well as beavers, skunks, birds and moles but most often Easton says he’s dealing with squirrels, groundhogs and raccoons. He adds that groundhogs can be particularly troublesome for homeowners.
“The groundhogs get under garages or homes and then they literally undermine it. We’ve found places where there are cracks in foundations and the walls of homes start settling, all from the digging the groundhogs do,” he said.
The fix, according to Easton, is removing the groundhogs and then installing a mesh barrier to keep the unwanted guests out. Then he helps the homeowner find a contractor to fix the damage.
Easton says homeowners can prevent many future problems by not “inviting” wildlife near their homes.
“Make sure you house is sealed up tight. If you know there is a gap or piece of soffit missing, make sure it gets repaired properly or as it gets cold, they’ll find their way in,” he says.
Even after more than 20 years in the business, Easton says he is still learning the cunning ways of animals.
“They (the animals) don’t read books and they don’t necessarily know what they are supposed to do, so they do a lot of weird things and you don’t know what to expect. I learn something every day and it keeps my job interesting,” he said.
Despite his best efforts, Easton adds that there is plenty of work to be done.
“More and more people are looking to animal-proof their homes and wildlife populations are ever increasing because of the reduction of hunting and trapping pressure. People just out there doing that like they used to do, so wildlife populations in our area are at an all-time high,” he said. “We’re not necessarily moving in on their habitat; they’re moving in on us. With that happening, we have to be proactive and seal areas up before they become a problem.
Easton’s Wildlife and Mole Control can be reached at 618-924-0912 or visit www.eastonswildlife.com.