Tom has been with Cowleys since 2016 and is a wildlife technician in works in our Wildlife Division.
Tom moved to New Jersey from Key West, Florida, where he worked in construction. Tom was a carpenter and framer as well as a heavy equipment operator. At Cowleys, Tom has been a quick study learning the ins-and-outs of wildlife, and his construction background comes in handy when exclusion and repair work needs to be done after the critters are trapped and relocated.
Tom enjoys the challenges of being a wildlife technician and loves working outdoors, no matter what the weather. When asked about one of his memorable assignments, Tom mentioned a job where he needed to reach a roof for a squirrel infestation and climbed to the top of a 40’ ladder. He found a nest with a few furless and helpless kits – along with the mother squirrel. The mother did not appreciate his unannounced visit and jumped right on his leg. Tom passed his wildlife initiation with flying colors. He kept his cool, did not overreact, and stayed on the ladder.
In 2019 Tom received his Wildlife Control Operator Certification and followed it up in 2020 by receiving the Bat Standards Certification, both issued by NWCOA! In addition, Tom is a licensed Ridge Guard Certified Installer.
In his spare time, Tom enjoys playing the drums, playing sports, especially softball, hockey, and Frisbee, and, most of all, supporting his daughter’s passion for singing.
For this edition of Tech Talk, we sit down with our NWCOA certified tech Tom and discuss nuisance wildlife. Watch Video »
Raccoons, although they walk on all fours like most mammals, have human-shaped paws with thumbs, not to mention razor-sharp claws. Because of their anatomy, these animals are amazingly good climbers. They are able to climb and walk on a much steeper roofs than we can. Unless you are a skilled rock climber, most of us regular folks have limited grip strength relative to our body weight, and none of us have a nice set of claws to dig into materials.
This wildlife job for a homeowner in Kendall Park, NJ was particularly tricky, and it took some extra planning because of this home’s steep pitched roof. To make matters even more challenging, there wasn’t much space between the house, and the ladder angle was a bit steeper than I would have liked. To solidly secure the ladder, I was able to ”foot” it right up against the bottom of the fence, so it would not "kick out" while I was on it.
Buttressed by the fence, this ladder would not budge on inch, and I had plenty of of security to work with my hands off the ladder without worrying about whether it would move while I was on it. I installed a “positive” set up. With this type of set up, any animal has no choice but to go through the trap, no matter if it's coming or going from the home.
The raccoon was soon trapped, and I safely relocated him far away from any human habitats. After trapping the trespasser, I closed off the access into the home in order to prevent any further wildlife intrusions. All in all, this was a satisfying job with a great resolution and a very happy homeowner who could now enjoy his home without sharing it with a destructive raccoon!
I was dispatched to a summer home in Bayville for a possible wildlife infestation. The homeowners, while in the process of closing the home and heading back to their permanent residence, heard wildlife noises in the chimney. After investigating the situation, I determined that there was indeed wildlife. At least one raccoon was using the chimney for shelter. Raccoons may look cute, but they are the primary carrier of rabies in New Jersey and can be aggressive. Most likely, the chimney was being used by raccoons as a temporary shelter, and was not its "regular" shelter. Raccoons often avail themselves of numerous rest areas, selecting them near food and water sources. According to wildlife experts, a raccoon can occupy a ten-mile radius of territory.
I set two traps on the roof and placed silver metallic tape over the gaps in the chimney top. I use tape as a signal. I’ll know the raccoon has left an enclosure like a chimney if the tape is broken, and often I’ll find animal fur stuck ago the tape. Good news! After four days, the tape had not yet been broken. This was more than enough evidence that the raccoon was not in the chimney a at the I had set up the traps and put on the tape. Since any raccoons were long gone, I removed the traps and the tape. Before leaving, I wanted to be sure that raccoons or other wildlife would be excluded from the chimney by placing hardware cloth over the chimney holes. Now, with the exclusion in place, wildlife will no longer be able to access the home through the attic.
Usually, raccoons are messy creatures that leave behind plenty of evidence of their activities to indicate how they managed to break in to someone's home. Raccoons are large animals that can weigh up to twenty pounds, and usually, it doesn’t take much effort to find the hole used to gain access inside the home. However, this particular job in Lakehurst was one in which the point of access into the attic wasn't so obvious.
During my attic inspection, I saw raccoon droppings, which are fairly large like dog poo. If you see berries in the poo, you're pretty much guaranteed that it was deposited there by a raccoon. And, whatever you do, don’t touch it! Their waste may have raccoon roundworm that can be transmitted to people, causing a host of serious problems, including blindness. Also, insulation had been pushed down and moved. So, I knew that I was dealing with at least one raccoon, but where and how entry was made was not immediately clear. I searched the exterior perimeter of the house looking for the usual entry points. Often, weaken soffits and fascia boards are used by raccoons to gain entry. There was no indication of any breach. I was determined to determine how these little rascals where gaining access. I then checked a less usual entry point, the attic fan in the middle of the roof. Sure enough, something was amiss. The fan’s mesh liner that acts as a barrier to prevent things from getting in, was visible. Something strong had grabbed it and pulled it off.
I knew that I was “in the zone” and inspected more closely. I saw distinctive raccoon paw prints,and scratch marks on the metal flashing around the attic fan. Raccoon tracks are very distinctive from other nuisance wildlife. These animals have five long splayed toes with small sharp claws. Their tracks are asymmetrical and resemble small human hands. Their front tracks having a crescent-shaped palm pad and their hind tracks have a long heel pad. There were also raccoon droppings on the roof in the area of the fan.
I placed an exclusion (an attic fan cover with a raccoon exclusion built into it), over the attic fan. I also set two traps next to the exclusion. This setup will ensure that any raccoons have a one-way trip out of the attic. I expect to quickly and safely capture this wildlife. After, I will release them far away from human habitats where they can live out their lives in peace. Wildlife is wonderful, but wildlife infesting a home can not only cause significant property damage, but is also poses significant health risks. Raccoon urine and droppings carry many dangerous pathogens, and these sometimes vicious biting animals are the primary carriers of rabies.
A homeowner in Monmouth Beach, NJ, a small beach community at the Jersey Shore contacted Bird Solutions By Cowleys because of a serious nuisance bird problem. This homeowner, who lived right on the water, had seagulls anding on his roof, depositing their prodigious waste everywhere. Because of the location of the home, the roof was a perfect spot for the birds to roost and nest, and these high structures help them stay on the lookout for food and predators. Gulls are attracted to human habitats because they are opportunistic scavengers that will consume virtually anything.
Seagulls are protected migratory birds. Should these birds become a nuisance on your property, it’s all about setting up deterrents on your property to create a hostile environment for them. The objective is simple: You want the birds to “voluntarily” abandon your property and move on elsewhere. Because gulls nest in coastal regions, they are quite common along the Jersey Shore, and they often become one of the biggest bird nuisances for homeowners who live in Monmouth Beach and our other coastal towns. These birds eat far more than aquatic life. They are In their search for food, when not in parking lots or garbage dumps, they are often attracted to roofs and other high structures. These are safe sites for them to roost and nest, and it gives them a great vantage point to stay on the lookout for food and predators.
Their droppings can cause significant property damage. Their thick white paste contains acidic uric acid, which is strong enough to dissolve shingles and sheathing. It can easily disintegrate roofing materials enough to cause roof leaks. Also, birds nesting in drains and gutters can block water drainage and lead to dangerous standing water on the roof.
Because bird droppings contain parasites and other pathogens, they are also a serious health hazard. They are attracted to waste sites, eating garbage containing sewage or medical waste. They can transmit these pathogens in their droppings. That alone is a good reason to not have gulls hanging around your home.
A two-crew team from Bird Solutions carefully installed approximately 1700 bird spikes on the peaks of his roof. The photos show the “before and after” of the spike installation. Without a place to land, the birds soon give up and look for a more hospitable place to land. For these birds, there is no shortage of places to “hang out.” Effective bird control lets them know that your home is off-limits.
The Monmouth Beach homeowner was pleased to finally have these gulls vacate his property. Sea gulls are a potential nuisance in any coastal community. However, it is not something that homeowners have to tolerate.