here. Wildlife control consultant. Another episode of Living the Wild Life. Hey, I’m here with Gerrod Walker of oh, what was the name when nature calls pest control out here in Colorado? Welcome to , Gerrod. Say hello to the crew. It’s a pleasure to be here. Hello. All right. Well, I’ve been out spending some time. Gerrod been good enough to let me hang around with him for a few days, was doing some work, learning some stuff, seeing his methods and getting a bunch of facial photos. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to interview him and have him talk a little about his business and how he got started in this. And so hope you all find it interesting. So a little bio, a little bit of information that you could maybe learn something from his experience. So certainly he’s had some big challenges and big successes within this industry. So when we get started.
So my first question for you, Joe, is what made you get into this business a wildlife control?
You know, believe it or not, I. I started out in social services early on. I worked as a case manager and a counselor for a mental health organization.
And I got kind of burned out. I needed a change. Pay was low and the results were oftentimes even lower. I got an opportunity to study through a correspondence course. Purdue University study got my license in the state of Illinois and quickly took a contract working overseas for the U.S. Army. I was back in 2004. I worked for them for two years, killing, killing pests in and a lot of rodent work, lot of insect work and a little bit of feral dog and cat control in the desert of Kuwait.
When did you when did you start? Doing wildlife control, wildlife control started in Kuwait. My had the opportunity to two to meet a challenge that other operators had been unable to resolve. I had the opportunity to be tasked with catching feral cats on Camp Doha in Kuwait. And when was that? That was back in June of 2004. Four through. I worked on Camp Doha for about three months, trapped over 200 cats in that time. Wow. So I guess you’d know some how to catch some cats. No kidding.
All right. So you’ve been in the biz in the industry now. So is 2019 started since 2004. So it’s really about 15 years you’ve been involved in this. So you started your business. What was your biggest challenge? Starting your business? You got back to the States? Yeah. So I came back from from the government contract and I opened I actually worked for Winnebago County Animal Control in Illinois for a little while. Got some experience there. And then realized the great need for wildlife control in the state of Illinois. The demand for wildlife services was was incredible in my area.
Lots of calls that the government couldn’t handle.
And so in the beginning, you know, it’s just a challenge as far as getting customer base to getting your word out. Back then, the Yellow Pages were my my go to. And so that’s where I started my advertising. I mean, I actually work quite well back then. When you started your company, now that you look back. What do you wish you knew then that you knew now that you know now?
Yeah. You know, it was a huge learning curve. Back then, there wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t as much involvement on a state or a national level as far as training and so. It was a whole learning curve. You know, you had to learn everything in the way that I did that was to reach out to members of NWCOA and to to reach out to other wildlife control operators in my area and to network. And, you know, I would suggest that anybody getting in this industry do a lot of networking early, had those resources available to them to reach out to.
And what would be a suggestion for getting some of those networking opportunities?
You know, really training events are great places to meet people. Nucor has some wonderful events, opportunities, you know, that you can run into people and develop those lifelong relationships. Oftentimes, that’s what I get most out of these training events is the opportunity to network and to to to to gain those valuable resources.
All right. For those of you out there and PestGeek world who don’t know what NWCOA is, us, the National Wildlife Control Operators Association, it’s just pronounced NWCOA. NWCOA and it’s the National Association, really for wildlife control professionals. So if you’re interested in joining it, be great to have you on board. Just truth in advertising. I’m a board member of NWCOA. I’ve mentioned that certainly in other previous podcasts and also truth in advertising. Gerard is a member of NWCOA, but he’s also a CNI, which is a certified NWCOA instructor because he was instrumental in helping with the BAT standards course as well as bad standards too, which is relatively recent. So I suspect given your work with bats, is that your one of your specialties? Is that within your specialty atolls?
You know, I love that work back in Illinois. A lot of our competitors struggled with with bats and oftentimes just didn’t want those jobs. It’s a lot more heights. It’s a lot more danger. It’s a lot more work and effort. And bats can fit through incredibly tiny places. And so we took that on about 50 percent of my work. And Illinois was bats.
So what brought you to Colorado?
The state of Illinois has a very difficult testing process. We found that year after year we would hire a highly qualified technician, train him and find that he couldn’t pass the test. You know, and at some point we just had to make a decision. When you’re a small organization and you’re getting older, you know, this work is very physically demanding and you have to make that decision at some point, you know, do I do I cut my losses?
Do I leave this state? I give up my entire customer base and my solid income to try to grow in a state where I can do that. That doesn’t have as restrictive licensing. So that sounds like a pretty heavy challenge. So I do want to get too far into that persay right now. May that be a for a future podcast? So you talked about how you got started, your specialty animal.
What would be your greatest, most interesting wildlife control job that you can that you think it’s funny or interesting or something that would be entertaining for the audience or informative for the audience? Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s a hard question to answer because there’s just so many. You know, if you narrowed it down by species, I could be more specific. But I’ll tell you, there’s no raccoons.
I’ve always I’ve always delighted in working with raccoons. We’ve had situations where they’ve fallen through ceilings and ended up inside the home. Middle of the night calls. And I remember a situation where a gentleman called me in the middle and I just you know, I could barely understand what he was saying. He’s screaming into the phone. And ultimately he he had a raccoons in his attic. It was a denning female cell with kids. And there was young.
And oftentimes the the female will seek a dining site that’s protected from the male. And so what had happened in this situation was a male came in and was fighting in the ceiling above. And of course, the ceiling wasn’t in the best of condition. Otherwise, it probably would have would have withheld that.
But two of them came crashing through and continued their fight down in the bedroom of this this man’s home and crashed right through the closet of the bedroom, slash him and his significant other were were hysterical and running around.
And very interesting. You got him out physically and got the rest of the young out in the next couple days there through searching for them and trapping resolve that through them.
Well, you’ve certainly been in the business for a while. We could now probably call you an old timer. You may not want to hear that, but I certainly have some legal jeopardy there.
So as you look over the industry, what do you think the industry has done? Well, and then follow up with where you think the industry needs to grow or improve or change. So what do you know as you look over the decades? What have we.
What we’re what is improved and what should continue to improve over time?
Yeah, that’s a that’s a very, very good question and one that we could probably talk for a couple hours on. I guess to summarize this, I would say that the industry has come far. It’s a relatively new industry that’s going through growing pains. And so there’s you know, there’s difficulty in getting everybody on the same page. Everybody that, you know, that comes to these these training events certainly has a competitive edge. And I think that there has been substantial improvement in the in the the training aspect. I think through new COA, there’s been opportunities that we can standardize, certain things we can start to bring, you know, we could start to bring norms to our industry and through that build standards and best management practices.
And so I think that that’s that’s a very good thing where we can improve. There’s a world of improvement left to do in this industry. There’s you know, there’s oftentimes a need for for mentoring in our industry. And I think there’s there’s some opportunities for that. I think more lobbying and the benefit of our members lobbying for industry, more organization, more training events, more certification opportunities. There’s certainly a lot of improvement that can be done down the road.
Yeah, I would agree. I think there’s a huge need for improving our work with in the lobbying side in terms of regulating agencies and improving laws and regulations. That’s what I envy about the pest control field. The pest control field seems to have regulations and processes that are more business friendly to get the job done where we’re still often restricted depending what state you’re in. To be fair, this is state driven, but there’s a lot more unanimity among states for pet, for pest control, sides of things and this for wildlife control. We’re still sort of saddled with some of those old regs that are treating us still like. Glorified fur trappers outfits, anything wallaby or fur trapper. That’s not the point. But that wildlife control is different than fur trapping. So, yeah, I would tend to agree with Brie with you there. Well, let’s break this down a little bit from the 30000 foot level and let’s get to something. What is your favorite set? If you’re putting a set out for an animal, whether it be squirrel, raccoon, whatever it is.
What would be your favorite? Start with your favorite trap and then talk about your favorite set and then your favorite bait.
Well, for structural trapping, I really feel that the best method to rid animals from structures is through blind set or a positive set trapping. I personally like the term entry exit point reacting to that. Really. The industry hasn’t adopted that language as more of a positive implying set. Essentially, I locate where the animals are regularly coming in and out from the structure and focus our trapping events or trapping at that location or multiple locations. In doing this, you’re you’re ensuring that you’re targeting the correct animal, your more effective quicker.
When you catch an animal that’s lactating, you know that you’ve got young insides. So you know how to address that. I think that as far as the favorite trap, I I I’m a big fan of a lot of Comstock traps. I like the different triggering mechanism. I think that they don’t recognize that a lot. The do it yourselfers don’t set traps that have, you know, those same mechanisms.
And so it’s something different when you set it on the entry exit point or the positive or blind spot right there on that point of entry, you gain a significant advantage. As far as favorite traps, I know I I don’t like to toot my own horn, but you know that the Comstock Walker edition, which is a smaller version of of a double door with a nose cone on one end, that trap is a smaller version of that that is easily mounted up on a on a soft or soft, rough intersection. You can put more, more traps in the truck because it’s a smaller unit. The animal tends to enter it a little bit more correctly.
So you get less false triggers. Excellent and versatile trap.
So the com stock walker edition. Well, so you haven’t trap named after yourself. So describe that trap a little bit more. I know the com stock has that wishbone trigger that’s in the middle. Sort of like almost like a kind of bear style type trigger to it rather than a treadmill, which is kind of kind of neat. So talk about the dimensions. What makes that trap? You talked about a little nose cone action, but is there anything different about this com stock trap? That’s the Walker edition.
Well, just simply the Walker edition is a smaller dimension. It was you know, I approached him, Comstock, many years ago and I said, hey, you know, I would like this trap that you already manufacture.
It’s about the normal size of the trap is, I believe, 36 inches. And I think it’s eleven by. Maybe 10 and more like that. The Walker edition is it’s 9 inches by 6 inches with the thirty six inch length and a nose cone. And what does that trap for? I mean, nine, nine inches by six inches. So it’s nine inches tall, six inches wide. And what does that trap for?
You know, it really shines when there’s when there’s coon inside. It’s really a very specific trap for coon. You know, the double door. It is double door. Double door. OK.
I think the double door allows the animal to see no match behind those triggers. And it’s a natural thing for the animal to want to exit when they can see clearly that the other side is open. So there’s less resistance and less, you know, less bust outs. When you what I would suggest is when you’re trapping on the structure and there’s multiple entry exit points that you set a trap at each entry exit point.
I know this is more work, but when you do it that way, you’re covering all your bases. There’s less likeliness that that raccoon is going to go through an area that is not, you know, not already damaged.
So what does the caucus do, you know?
So I believe, you know, it’s been a while since I purchased any.
The cost. Last time I purchased it was around one hundred forty five plus shipping and handling. OK. I don’t. I know that though. They last forever so that, you know, I’ve never had one. Have to be replaced yet again.
And what is your. So for truth in advertising, what’s your commission on each sale of the.
Well I don’t I don’t know any commissioner doesn’t earn a thing. Well. OK. Well, maybe maybe in the future you will know.
But anyway, so you have you can see that there’s been some development there. So a sixth sense.
You’re not seeing any refusal. You haven’t noticed any refusals from a raccoon going through a six inch wide trap?
No. I’ve seen it like I’ve seen a tremendous amount of acceptance of that trap. I think what makes that trap? You know, obviously its size makes it easier and more versatile to place up on a structure and a difficult, difficult location.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s huge. Yeah, it is. But less room in the truck, too. Right. Right. Yeah. And so what is your favorite if when you using a bait set.
So we talked about you love positive sets. And just to refresh people’s memories, if you’re new to the podcast, I have a previous addition where I talk about the difference between a positive set, blind set and baited set.
So when you’re using a baited set, what would be your if you had to have one bait on your proverbial island where you can only have one bait? What would it be? What would be your favorite go to bait? You know, that’s a hard thing to answer.
You know, I think that, you know, most animals, let’s just say raccoon, raccoon tend to, at least in Illinois, tend to seek a protein based food source when it’s winter and when they’re looking for food sources that are not naturally occurring, when there’s a lot of berries that are dropping more berries. I like to switch to a sweet bait. You know, Fatal Attraction is excellent for me, excellent results as shellfish based, protein based, attracting. It’s going to it’s going to attract a lot of different creatures. It’s good. It’s kind of a long, a long call to it, but that is highly appealing to them.
Mellow yellow and who menu who manufacturer’s fatal attraction. You know, I think it’s black. He’s blend black. He’s bland. OK, I’m not shot out for black, is there? And you said you like mellow yellow who make connections that with my life control supplies. Wildlife control supplies. OK. That’s out of Connecticut. So any others you know, in my area, I like to use persimmon oil.
Ok. For four trillion lower, you know. If another trillion were all that I commonly used as yellow stripe, I use that one as well in yellow stripe.
Who’s who makes that? That’s a WC. Yes. Also another while I’ve control supplies. Wow. OK.
And so you’ve had good successful. How far have you drawn Iraq whom using a trailing a trailing stop when a win for those listeners who aren’t familiar with the trailing set, what would you use a trailing set for? What advantages does it offer?
You know, I like trailing sense and oils and lures when the situation is such where you cannot legally trap where you want to place that trap. I’d say for you NWCOAmers, you know, the trap placement is everything you want to put. The trap is close to where that animal’s living. Well, let’s say the land animal is living in the neighbor’s property and you can’t you can’t setup legally there or there’s too much risk for damage of theft or, you know, your of your equipment. Trailing lures are a great way to draw that animal in from further locations. And I’ve used it up to maybe 30, 40 feet away.
Wow. And what? How many drops per foot? I mean, how do you apply that? I mean, how much are you using to get that as a drop a foot? Is it how do you how do you use it? I don’t really do the drop method as much as I use it pretty liberally. OK. You know, I’ll use it as a stream. All right, squirt bottle. Mm hmm. OK. And pricey. Does it get a little expensive or is it just worth it, given the need that you have?
You know, I we’ve always maintained that, you know, you should price it out so that you’re making good money on that job so that whatever you need is covered in those costs. And so for us, you know, we just price it out where, you know, that job is worth it and we’ll use whatever we need to to resolve it.
Well, you’re in a beautiful location here in Colorado. So before we wrap up, I want to give you the opportunity to give a shout. What about your business and talk about the services you provide. And you know, I know you’re looking for perhaps a staff member that might come on board and work with you. So this would be an opportunity for you to shout out to the world and maybe someone wants to come out and work for you out here. Gorgeous Colorado.
You know, I I I I fell in love with Colorado a few years ago when I had a training opportunity out here.
And I just absolutely fell in love with the folks out here in Colorado and the beautiful scenery. I felt I felt called to this area.
We. We really we really want to, you know, to mention how blessed we are to be here, I think, and we’re looking forward to to really expanding. We’re excited to to to be part of Colorado. And, you know, I really think that there’s a huge potential in the future for our services here. There’s there’s some amazing growth in our in our in our state here.
And that that’s something I’m not used to in Illinois’s growth is very stagnant here in Colorado. You see buildings going up all over the place. It’s true. Yes. It’s truly a remarkable situation to see this growth here.
And just to let people know you are.
It’s probably the easiest way for people to identify where you’re at is that you’re outside of Colorado Springs. Right. So you’re if so, if you’re trying to figure out where he is here, that would be, what, south of Denver? Up in the mountains west of Colorado Springs. Is that about right?
Yeah. We said it was all a greater Colorado Springs. And then for about an hour drive west into the mountains. So that’s our general service range. We go up to two miles or two hours in any direction for bats. And so we’re actually located in Florissant, Colorado, and it is absolutely gorgeous.
So if you’re looking for work, are you looking to need a big job done and you’re looking for some additional labor? Definitely. Give Gerrod Walker of when nature calls pest control rain. He’s be happy to do work up with you again. The big job coming up to. No, I do. Big job. So he is incredibly skilled at the opportunity to stay with them for a few days. We’ll give him a little shout out here. He’s a great contract contributor to the association and to our industry.
Gerrod, want to thank you for letting me hang out with you for a few days and see your work and see your system. I love the technology that you bring to bear to do your work.
And he is. His truck is absolutely divine. So that’ll come up later. Maybe they’ll come up later in another podcast. But thanks for taking the time with us. Well, and we’re going to finish up here.
Thank you for the opportunity. I really enjoyed the colorful banter.
I’ve enjoyed the learning from you and having your your wisdom be brought to Colorado. Thank you.
All right. Well, you too kind. All right, everybody, this is Stephen Vantassel, wildlife control consultant. If you have any more ideas for a podcast, definitely drop me an email at wildlifecontrolconsultant@Gmail.com
And hey, be safe out there. Back to you, Frank.