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Companies That Deal With Bats, Other Critters Face A Flood Of Calls

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A woodchuck in a furnace. Raccoons in walls. Bats and birds in attics.

That's just a normal day at work for businesses that catch wild critters for a living, and many are so swamped with calls they are booked for days, scheduling for spring or turning away new customers altogether.

Kelly Voelker, who owns the Omaha location of national franchiser Critter Control with her husband, Jeff, said this is the busiest time of year because of heat and the local bat population emerging from nests after the breeding season in June and July.

“Every year, this time of year, we can pretty much count on it,” Voelker said. She said the business would not turn away any customers, but wait times may be longer than usual, currently three to four days. “We'll get them in as soon as we can,” she said.

Bats that then eventually make their way into living areas are the biggest problem this time of year, Voelker said. But the business also deals with other pests, including mice, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, woodchucks, moles and voles.

“This time of year is always big on bats,” Nebraska Humane Society spokesman Mark Langan said.

Langan said the Nebraska Humane Society will deal with bats or other critters in your living space. But if they're in the attic or you can hear them scratching in the walls, the organization will refer complaints to one of four local companies — Critter Control, Kenny's Critter Removal, Critter Gitter and Critter Ridders Wildlife Management.

“If it poses a danger or it's injured, then we remove it. If not, we refer them to these companies,” Langan said.

Critter Control is a husband-wife team. Kelly and Jeff Voelker have had the business in Omaha since 1996 and bought the Des Moines franchise in 2000.

Jeff Voelker said the hardest part of the business is the fact that people are sensitive when it comes to wild animals, sometimes crying about the discovery. “Dealing with the animals is the easy part. The only hard part is dealing with people.”

Kelly Voelker said the company has three people in the field in Omaha, including Jeff, but lately it's been so busy that she's also been donning a pair of Kevlar gloves to catch critters.

Credits: Paige Yowell - www.Omaha.com



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