Wes Osborne has pretty much seen it all in the three-plus decades he has spent in the animal trapping and removal business.
There’s always another story to outdo the last one, though.
The owner of CRIT-R-DONE of Volant got a call about a New Castle couple who went to Florida on vacation. A relative who stopped in to check the home called police about a suspected break-in after finding severe damage upon entry. Police found no forced entry and began to search the home.
They entered the master bedroom, where they discovered a pair of fox squirrels lying in the bed. Over the course of two weeks, the fox squirrels had caused more than $50,000 in damage, chewing the cork off every bottle of wine in the cellar and munching on every curtain in the home.
Osborne was called and he removed the animals. He discovered they entered through a bathroom fan vent.
“That was a really different extraction,” he said. “I could not believe the amount of damage that had been done.
“I love what I do. You just never know what a day is going to bring. I’ve come face-to-face with pythons and copperheads. Once I had a snake in a dryer. You always have to be ready for everything.”
Osborne and his father, Dick, obtained the first two licenses issued in the county for nuisance animal control in 1986.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that you can’t just go out and start setting traps for animals,” he said. “Landowners have to get permission from the Game Commission if they want to set a trap and even then, I don’t think it’s a good idea. You have to know what you’re doing.”
Osborne says he often spends 12 hours a day, up to seven days a week, responding to calls, as he has done as a full-time trapper for the past 10 years. He is licensed in Pennsylvania and Ohio and mostly traps groundhogs, raccoons and skunks. He said groundhogs are the biggest problem because they dig the holes that allow entry points for the other animals.
He does not trap bats, which cannot be killed. The Pennsylvania Game Commission handles situations with bears.
“Nuisance trapping is still an essential business,” Osborne said. “In the spring, I definitely work seven days a week. Trappers don’t get Saturdays or Sundays off. If a person has a coon in their kitchen or their barn or a skunk in their car, they need to get it out.
“Very few are cut out for this,” he added. “Every animal has its own regulation in every state. You have to know the laws and you have to follow them. I am very particular about following the laws.”
Once a homeowner procures Osborne’s services, control is lost over what happens to the animal. Osborne explains what is going to happen to the homeowner, sets a trap and leaves with the animal after it is trapped.
“I’m required to put them down,” he said. “I don’t ever lie to anybody about this. I have a license to trap and remove. There are so many and you can’t just dump them because then the problem becomes worse. They will chew through sump pump wires, sewer, water, gas and electric lines. It would be illegal for me to take them and dump them elsewhere.
“I’m a trapper but also an animal lover so I never let animals suffer,” he added. “I understand that they have to be controlled. I don’t put animals down in front of people because that is something that they don’t need to see. They are taken to my facility and put down and disposed of legally.”
Barb Osborne said that she has the utmost admiration and respect for her husband.
“He’s amazing,” she said. “He’s really good at what he does and I don’t just say that because I’m his wife. I have learned so much in the time I have been with him. He has taught me some great survival skills and how to be a well-rounded sportsman.
“He’s a true professional and has a lot of integrity. He treats people really well. It’s a lot of work and some days are a lot more fun than others but the service he provides is necessary. At the end of the day, it’s obvious he’s done a lot of good.”
Anyone wanting additional information from Osborne can contact him at (724) 730-3444.
KAYLEEN CUBBAL is sports editor at the New Castle News.