He makes his living by catching critters

April 21, 1995|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Sun Staff Writer

Jeff Hegenauer went over his schedule:

Raccoon in a garage.

Bird in a vent.

A snake job.

Rabbit under a deck.

"I've got a variety today," said Mr. Hegenauer, general manager of Critter Control in Reisterstown, which specializes in removing animals from places where they're not wanted by humans.

Mr. Hegenauer's first job yesterday was at the Mount Airy home of 70-year-old Anna Ward, who discovered a raccoon in her garage last week. "The scratching has been keeping us awake at night," she said.

With a ladder, a flashlight and a "catch-all" pole to nab the raccoon, Mr. Hegenauer prepared to catch the offending critter after finding it sleeping peacefully in the rafters of the garage roof.

Using the catch-all pole, Mr. Hegenauer looped a noose around the raccoon's neck. The female animal clung to the pole, fighting and hissing, as Mr. Hegenauer lowered it into a cage.

Squealing sounds sent the animal catcher back to the roof, where he found a 3-inch-long baby raccoon. Mr. Hegenauer said it was 3 or 4 days old.

"Oh, I'm so glad he got it," Mrs. Ward said of the mother raccoon as Mr. Hegenauer emerged from her garage. "I was so afraid it was going to come through the ceiling."

Critter Control, based in Michigan, has more than 80 offices nationwide. Mr. Hegenauer's Reisterstown office is the only one in Maryland.

Removing squirrels from attics is the company's most common job, he said. Close behind are bats, woodchucks, raccoons and blacksnakes in the summer months.

Mr. Hegenauer said one of his most unusual jobs was capturing an escaped pet, a 6-foot boa constrictor. He also has trapped a few iguanas and has removed intruding hawks that have flown through doors or windows into people's homes.

"I've been bitten a couple times by squirrels," Mr. Hegenauer said. "But I have all my rabies shots."

Critter Control, he said, has a minimum service charge of $39.95 and charges between $40 and $60 for each animal removed. Most of the recovered animals are relocated in wildlife management areas in Sykesville or Reisterstown that are operated by the state Department of Natural Resources.

But state law requires that captured raccoons and foxes must be destroyed because of the threat of rabies and the difficulty in relocating these animals. Mr. Hegenauer said he exterminates the animals by lethal injection. "This raccoon here, it would probably go into somebody else's house before it would go into a tree," Mr. Hegenauer said of the mother raccoon he caught.

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