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Urban jungle


Just because we live in a city doesn’t mean critters won’t set up house in your home.

Heide Brandes October 5th, 2011

In June, Ash Hall discovered a couple of juvenile delinquents breaking into his north Oklahoma City garage.

“(My roommate) came in and said, ‘You’ve got to see this.’ There was a little opossum, about 7 inches long, sitting on the ping-pong table just looking at us,” Hall said. “We figured the cats might hurt it, so we put the opossum in a carrier, and a second one started climbing down the shelves in the garage.”

The sibling was a little more difficult to catch, he said.

“They smell bad, but are actually very soft, very clean and very docile,” he said. “They were obviously weaned, but still really young. We set them free a little north of town the next night.”

right, Ned Bruha and squirrel

In Doug Garone’s Edmond neighborhood, wildlife is a common sight.

Still, some encounters mean ending up in your pajamas in the backyard with nothing but a vacuum attachment as defense.

“I’d let the dog out and it was barking like crazy,” Garone said. “It was barking at the biggest snake I’ve seen. It had to be 6 feet long. I know it was harmless, like a bull snake, but the dog was going after it.”

Garone didn’t want the dog to hurt the reptile, so the vacuum attachment was more for keeping the pet at bay.

“I must have looked crazy, running around my backyard in my pajamas, yelling and waving this big vacuum attachment around,” he said.

In the end, all parties went their separate ways, and the snake never returned.

The metro is a busy spot, said Micah Holmes, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation spokesman. On any given evening, residents may expect visits from raccoon, opossum, squirrels, bats, skunks, coyotes or bobcats.

Problem is, not everyone appreciates those visits.

It’s neat to see wildlife, but you don’t want them in your house.
—Micah Holmes

“It’s neat that we live in a city and state where you can see wildlife in your backyard, but on the other hand, you don’t want them in your house,” Holmes said. “Most of the calls we get are the routine stuff: snakes in the yard or a baby animal found.”

Believe it or not, animals — even babies — do well without the meddlesome interference of humans, he said.

“Sometimes it appears as if the animal has been abandoned,” he said, “but chances are, the mother is near and waiting for you to go away so she can care for her young.”

Still, some wild guests can become a problem. If those wily squirrels and raccoons become annoying houseguests who overstay their welcome, Holmes said wildlife control officers are the next step.

“There are companies out there that will trap or take that animal out  of the home in the most humane way possible,” he said.

EVICTION NOTICE
According to The Skunk Whisperer, we live in a jungle, and it’s their jungle. Based in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, the business laments the poor practices that cause animals to invade urban homes and, worse, how the “most dangerous animal” reacts.

“We evict animals back into their current environment and show people how to properly seal their homes so they don’t come back,” said Ned Bruha, vice president.

Unlike other companies, he said, his company doesn’t use traps. Instead, The Skunk Whisperer hunts for nesting sites in attics or garages and eases the critters out. He shows homeowners how to close potential “entry points.”

“If you trap and relocate an animal, studies show they die within two weeks,” he said. “Even worse, sometimes you leave something behind.”

For example, if you trap an adult raccoon, its babies may be left to die of starvation.

“It’s a horrible death,” Bruha said. “The only thing worse than a live animal in the house is a dead animal.”

He simply lets the animal go in the same neighborhood.

“If you remove the opossums, the raccoons and other animals, then you have rats and mice breeding, which then attract snakes.

You’ve created a food chain in the backyard,” he said.

Nearly every town in America has its share of wildlife encounters. This spring, northwest OKC had its own bobcat scare as reports flowed in about the predators popping up along roadways and in yards. Bears and mountain lions are also Oklahoma natives.

“It’s the same advice for all animals: Just use common sense,” Holmes said, noting that nine times out of 10, they’re just passing through. “Enjoy the fact you can see the wildlife, but just leave them alone.”

 
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