Ron, a Browns Mills resident, joined Cowleys in 2018 as a wildlife control technician. He prides himself in dealing with challenging wildlife infestations. For those homeowners facing property damage from invading critters whether its torn soffits and fascia, ripped shingles, or destroyed insulation, Ron has an extensive construction background. He has the skills and experience to repair most any wildlife damage and make your home look as good as new. His goal is to leave no trace that animals had once taken up residence in your attic, basement, or crawl space.
Nuisance wildlife, especially squirrels and raccoons, that commonly invade homes and other structures, often leave considerable damage in their wake. In addition to his experience trapping and relocating wildlife, Ron joined Cowleys with almost two decades of building construction experience under his belt. For him, the motto was “no job is too big or too small.” Ron has done everything from renovation projects to home building. He also specialized in concrete work and managed a wide variety of projects including the exacting work of building bulkheads (seawalls).
Ron enjoys helping homeowners get unwanted animals out of their house, repairing wildlife damage, and helping the animals find a more suitable living arrangement away from people. He especially enjoys the “chess match” of dealing with wily wildlife that have no interest in being captured.
Every wildlife infestation comes with its own set of challenges, and he is still amazed at the tight spots and inaccessible places that these animals will access. One of Ron’s first jobs at Cowleys was rescuing raccoon kits that were trapped in a tight chimney. These kits were in a serious pickle. To reach these kits, Ron had to do a contortion act that was worthy of a performance at Cirque du Soleil. He saved the kits and helped these homeowners avoid dealing with rotting animal carcasses in their home.
In his spare time, Ron enjoys playing golf, hunting and fishing, and spending time with his family.
For this edition of Tech Talk, Ron, one of our certified Wildlife experts, discusses bats. Watch Video »
Over the years Atlantic City Electric has been having issues with barn swallow flying in and nesting above the I- beams in the loading dock area. When asked by Cowleys pest control company for a solution, we immediately went out to the job site and installed Bird Slope on top of every I- beam. Bird Slope prevents birds from landing and nesting in those areas permanently.
Atlantic City Electric was having a major problem with sparrows and starlings in their warehouse. We decided on using one of our favorite bird deterrents, bird netting to solve this problem for our client. These birds will stay away!
A commercial facility in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, nearby Atlantic City, was having an on-going problem with birds gaining access to a tool storage area of the building. The manager contacted Bird Solutions By Cowleys to resolve this bird infestation once and for all.
Our two-man crew inspected the area to determine how the birds were gaining access. It did not take us long to find the opening. The problem was a gap above an I-beam that gave the birds wide open access. To restrict the bird from further entry, we constructed a bird barrier by closing this space off with hardware cloth. With this access point permanently closed, birds will no longer be able to enter this space and make a mess of things.
Recently, we went out on a service call for a homeowner in Plainsboro Township, NJ who contacted Cowleys for a groundhog issue. As the homeowner was fixing a post in his deck, a groundhog peaked his head out! Needless to say, this scared the daylights out of the homeowner. Groundhogs are outdoor rodents that build their homes underground. An adult groundhog is an herbivore with an immense appetite, eating 1-1 ½ pounds of vegetation a day. As a groundhog prepares for hibernation by consuming even more food, there may be considerable damage to a home.
As we began inspecting the exterior of the home, we found several burrows around the deck area. A groundhog burrow is a marvel of animal engineering. These underground homes run two to four feet beneath the surface and range from eight feet to more than 60 feet long, with multiple exits and rooms. A burrow is usually equipped with two or three entrances, each of which is 10”-12” wide and marked by excavated soil. Groundhogs even build separate chambers in their burrows to serve as bathrooms!
To eliminate the problem, we dug 10 inches down and 10 inches out from the deck and installed hardware cloth around the perimeter. After installing the hardware cloth, we then placed lattice over it. This will to make it aesthetically pleasing to look at and adds an extra level of reinforcement to keep animals away. Over by the main access point, we placed a one-way exclusion device to allow any groundhogs that may be hiding under the deck to come out. A one-way exclusion device is a device that allows a critter to safely exit the harborage spot and prevent them from getting back in. Finally, we backfilled over top hardware cloth and up to the bottom of the lattice. We scheduled a follow-up inspection to monitor the harborage areas and, once the home is free of groundhogs, seal up the final piece of lattice and hardware cloth.
A resident in Monroe Township, NJ contacted our office after finding squirrels in his attic. Squirrels can be very dangerous and destructive when in a home. Not only do they carry disease, but they like to burrow and make a mess of areas they can get into. Squirrels are rodents that need to chew, and they like the texture of wires or electric wires in the attic, which can present a fire hazard for the homeowner.
We began inspecting the exterior and discovered that the squirrels had chewed their way through this gable vent, which was their main access point to the attic. We then inspected the attic thoroughly and found squirrel feces in the insulation. To safely remove the squirrels, we temporarily sealed off the gable vent and installed a one-way device. A one-way device allows the squirrels to safely leave the attic, but prevent them from getting back in. We also set up a few baited traps in the area.
In a short amount of time, all the squirrels were safely removed from the attic. We then returned, removed and replaced the contaminated insulation, sanitized the attic area, and then replaced the gable vent with a brand new metal one. We also used fine 1/8 hardware cloth and screened it from the outside. The reason why we screen from outside is that it doesn't allow anything to roost or nest in the vent fins.
A couple in Manalapan, NJ had a major issue with foxes living underneath their deck. We were sent out, inspected the entire area, and set-up our devices to safely retrieve the fox family. Shortly after setting up trapping, the foxes were safely retrieved and we relocated them to a new, humane location.
Although the foxes were safely removed, that was only half the battle. The deck area was still vulnerable for future intrusions from foxes and other nuisance wildlife.
To fix this, we dug a trench around the entire perimeter of the deck area that was 1 ft deep and 1 ft out from the bottom of the deck and then installed hardware cloth. This creates a sturdy "L shaped" perimeter that the foxes (and other nuisance wildlife) are unable to dig through.
Once we finished installing the hardware cloth, we installed lattice around the entire perimeter of the deck. Now the deck is not only protected from future intrusions from any nuisance wildlife, but it looks aesthetically pleasing as well.
This summer, residents in a residential development in Mantaloking, NJ found themselves with a serious nuisance bird problem. The property manager contacted Bird Solutions By Cowleys for us to take care of the problem. Seagulls had taken over the community’s outdoor pool area. Suffice it to say, it’s difficult to enjoy a pool area while birds are hovering and circling a few feet overhead looking for scraps of food. And if you want to take a dip in the pool, you would be swimming with their feathers and fecal matter. Not exactly refreshing!
Permanent residents and those with summer homes in Mantaloking or any of the other towns on the Jersey Shore, often find themselves with seagull issues on their property. It’s hardly surprising since these coastal regions are their natural habitat. Without a doubt, gulls are one of the most problematic nuisance birds for those who live in coastal New Jersey towns..
Although we like to think of gulls gracefully diving into the ocean to nap an unsuspecting fish, the reality is that these birds eat far more than aquatic life, and just like pigeons, they thrive in human habitats. Gulls are opportunistic scavengers that will consume virtually anything and we give them plenty of food waste to thrive. A major problem with these birds is their prodigious waste. Their thick white glue-like droppings are filled with pathogens and are a nightmare to clean. Their waste can cause property damage. It is acidic enough to disintegrate roofing materials and cause roof leaks!
With gulls and other nuisance birds, we don’t seek to kill or harm them. In fact, birds classified as migratory birds are federally protected and harming them is illegal. Our focus is on bird control — we want to change their behavior. We employ various deterrents to create a hostile environment so they get frustrated, abandon your property, and go bother someone else.
For this particular situation, the most effective deterrent was an “eagle eye.” This highly effective optical bird “scarer” can be attached to the peak of a roof or anywhere else that gulls are landing and congregating. As the wind catches the device, it spins and emits an annoying large glare that distracts them and limits their vision. The reflected light beams are so uncomfortable that the gulls will divert their flight and head away from your property. Different bird species have different sensitivities to certain colors. This red eagle eye is designed and used primarily to repel gulls, and it works exceptionally well in large, open areas (like this pool area) that gulls find attractive. This gull problem will be completely eliminated as the birds seek out more hospitable locations where they are not bothered by a blinding light every time they attempt to land.
After we successfully retrieved all wild squirrels in this homeowner's attic and then relocated them to a new, humane location, we returned to repair the damage.
Originally, the squirrels were gnawing on the fascia board, chewed a tiny hole, and entered the attic. We completely deodorized and sanitized the attic area and then turned our attention to the fascia board. We sealed the access point with metal flashing and secured it in place with a premium sealant made up of terpolymer technology. Next, we painted the metal flashing to blend in with the color of the home so that the repair work won't be an eyesore.
We went out on a service call for a homeowner in Colts Neck, NJ who was hearing birds chirping in his attic. As we arrived and began our inspection along the roof we discovered a severe "roofline gap" or a "builders gap.” This term refers to when the roof decking is left slightly shorter than the rafter ends creating a gap between the roof and the gutter. Although covered by a layer of shingles this gap extends the full roofline of your home and is an ideal place for wildlife and birds to enter.
The gap was located under the last tab of shingles where the plywood meets the fascia board (the board behind the gutter). As we examined the gap, we found several birds nest inside. Birds nesting in your attic isn’t just annoying but is hazardous to your health. The nesting material they use can harbor many different types of parasites, including bird mites. Bird mites are microscopic parasites that feed on the blood of birds. They have flat, oval bodies, and are nearly white when unfed, but become bright red when recently fed. Once birds have abandoned their nests, bird mites migrate indoors from an abandoned nest, entering through the attic via openings in the ceiling or interior wall surfaces, and feed on the blood of humans.
For treatment, we sanitized the nesting areas with a product that specifically targets bird mites and then carefully removed all the nests. Next, we installed a product called "leaf proof" all along the roofline gap. A leaf proof is made of an aluminum metal that slips under the bottom of the last shingle in between shingle and plywood and attaches to gutter with a small screw. This product still allows the water to run into the gutter but blocks and protects from birds and other animals from accessing the attic area. Now the homeowner's attic and gutter are properly protected from invasive wildlife and birds.
Recently, a momma raccoon decided to take up residence in an elementary school in Lincroft, NJ. She set up a nesting area above the school’s drop ceiling for herself and her three babies. Needless to say, school administrators were none-too-pleased with this wildlife problem. Raccoons are large aggressive animals that also happen to be New Jersey’s primary rabies vector. Mother raccoons can be particularly aggressive if they feel that someone is threatening their kits. In short, raccoons, in and around any structure, especially a school where there are curious little kids looking for trouble, is a dangerous situation. I was told that the raccoon noises were becoming a serious distraction to both students and faculty. In addition, raccoons can cause extensive property damage. With this infestation, as often happens, the raccoons ruined much of the insulation above the drop ceiling. They tear up the soft, cushiony material for nesting and it becomes a sponge for their wastes. The school will handle the insulation removal and replacement later on. And it’s not just the animals that pose a danger. Wildlife urine and waste particles, which can become airborne, can contain dangerous pathogens.
Upon arrival, as with any wildfire infestation, I inspected the building to to determine how the raccoon gained access to the building. Usually, with large animals, the entry points aren’t too subtle. Here, I immediately saw that the raccoon ripped out one of the flimsy air vent screens. Often, standard air vent screens used by contractors are not sturdy enough to withstand a wildlife “break-in.” They are simply not made with wildlife intrusions in mind and standard vent covers are no match for a determined raccoon. There animals are not only strong intelligent animals, but they also have human-like five-fingered front paws that are extremely dexterous. They have been known to open doors and screw the lids off cans!
It was important to trap these raccoons, and get the job done quickly. We placed four baited traps on the roof of the school in strategic locations based on their activity. The mother raccoon must leave the nest in order to forage for food for herself and her babies. Two days later, “momma” was successfully captured. We then proceeded to retrieve the helpless babies, removing them one by one, and reunited them with their worried mother. One thing we don’t do is split up happy raccoon families! We relocated the family to a safe area far away from human habitats. Finally, to prevent future re-infestations, we fortified all of these potential entry points by screening off the eight roof vents with 1/4-in, galvanized hardware. Raccoons or squirrels will not be able to gain access into the building through these heavy-duty vents. This Lincroft school that should not have to worry about another wildlife infestation anytime soon!
A commercial building in Wall Township, NJ, was having a problem with pigeons roosting under the solar panels. As pigeons do, these birds were depositing their droppings all over, defacing the building and annoying for customers entering and exiting the premises. It was an intolerable situation.
Pigeons are one of the most common nuisance birds faced by commercial property owners. Many view feral pigeons as vermin because of their toxic waste and the diseases that they carry. These birds enjoy a virtually unlimited food supply and thrive around human populations. Unfortunately, nuisance birds shuffle from one building to the next. When they are “evicted” from one location with deterrent devices, they inevitably become someone else’s problem.
Pigeon droppings are more than an unsightly nuisance. Their droppings are highly acidic. In fact, their waste matter is white because of the uric acid crystals in their watery “bombs.” that splatter and make a sticky mess. Their waste is strong enough to dissolve paint and damage property. Also, their droppings contain numerous pathogens and parasites. Touching or even just breathing in the airborne spores can transmit a variety of diseases, including histoplasmosis, a respiratory fungal infection.
The property owner contacted Bird Solutions By Cowleys to resolve this bird infestation permanently. We inspected the area to determine how the birds could be blocked from the roof area. The most effective solution was installing a bird barrier around the perimeter of the solar panels.With this barrier in place, birds or wildlife could no longer enter under the solar panels to nest where they could chew wire and cause other property damage.
After homeowners in Belmar, NJ, found themselves with squirrels in their attic, they contacted Cowleys to deal with this wildlife infestation. Squirrels managed to gain attic entry by tearing off a loose piece of soffit in the corner of the roofline. Builders often call these particular roof returns as “pork chop.” Apparently, they use this peculiar label because this common, generic roof return is quick and easy to build relative to other designs. The trade-off is that they aren’t a particularly elegant design. For homeowners that don’t care about their home being featured in Architectural Digest, this roof design is perfectly fine. With these returns, the raking fascia is built flush with a triangular piece that covers up the end of the rafters and merges with the soffit below. Sometimes, however, these roof corners are used by some wildlife like squirrels and raccoons to gain entry into the attic by attempting to tear off or bend this metal triangular piece enough for them to squeeze into the attic. Sometimes, like with this squirrel infestation, they are successful!
Upon arrival, after inspecting the roof area, I saw what I needed to do to catch these wily critters. First, I placed a “one-way” door over the opening used by the squirrels. These “one-ways” do precisely what their name says — they allow wildlife to exit, but they soon find out that it’s a one-way trip. These doors only open in one direction, so they are blocked from returning. To monitor wildlife activity, I like to place a piece of tape on the door so that i know whether any wildlife has left
I also placed two baited traps to lure the unwanted guests out of the attic. Often, when there are now objects placed where the animals are coming g and going, they are timid about exploring them and they need to get acclimated to the objects so they don’t perceive them as a threat. To catch wildlife, you need a bit of patience. Also, it doesn’t hurt to use the right bait that’s too tempting to resist!
After it is clear that there is no more wildlife activity or the animals have been trapped, I’ll patch the area with aluminum flashing and ensure that the roofline is secure and the homeowners won’t be visited by any more squirrels. Often, especially with wildlife infestations that have gone on for some time, the attic has been contaminated from droppings, and the area must be deodorized and sanitized. Cowleys has experienced crews that specialize in wildlife clean-up and the removal and replacement of contaminated insulation.
With the attic now sealed, this homeowner should not be visited by any more raccoons.
Little Silver, NJ homeowners found themselves with a family of raccoons (a mom and her two babies) that had taken up residence in their attic. The mom, looking for a quiet area to build a den for her kits, was able to gain entry through an opening in a boxed eave. These particular eave returns at the corner end of the roof fascia are informally referred to by builders as pork chops. “Porkchop” eaves are quite common. They are easy to build even though, aesthetically, they aren’t considered the most elegant design (hence the name). With these returns, the raking fascia is built flush with a triangular piece that covers up the end of the rafters and merges with the soffit below.
With this opening in the soffit, the raccoon had free reign to come and go as she pleased to forage and care for her babies. To remove the raccoons, I made what wildlife techs like to call an “eviction ball,” and placed it into the soffit. The objective is to encourage the raccoon to vacate the premises and move on. ideally, we want them to enter a trap so we can relocate the animal to a safe area. My hand-made eviction ball happened to be a tennis ball. I drilled a hole into it and filled it with a raccoon eviction (repellant) fluid. This fluid, a thick, creamy paste, is a natural by-product of a male raccoon. The solution is a mixture of urine and other scents. The males are a predator to females during their birthing period,. To a mom raccoon, the smell of this fluid is a major warning sign that her young are in serious danger. A male (boar) raccoon will kill the baby kits in order to assert their genetic dominance. A sow that has lost her kits will go back in the heat and can then be re-impregnated by the male. Raccoons are one of a number of animal species that practice this type of infanticide. It’s one of the more gruesome scenes that a wildlife tech can come across, and one that I prefer to avoid.
In addition to the eviction ball, I placed two baited traps on a lower roof. I put some tape over the roof opening to monitor raccoon activity. In this case, the mother wound up taking her kits and vacating the attic. She avoided entering the traps. After ensuring that there was no more wildlife in the attic, I framed out the end of the soffit and attached a new piece of metal flashing to cover up the hole. With the attic now sealed, this homeowner should not be visited by any more raccoons.
Recently, I went on a service call for a new residential client in Long Branch, NJ who contacted us to resolve an issue with birds nesting inside her home. Before beginning my inspection, I spoke to the homeowner about the bird infestation. Whenever possible, I always try to speak with homeowners about whatever rodent, pest or wildlife issue they are dealing with. This preliminary information helps me identify the problem, target my inspection, and find the best solution. Here, the homeowner told me that she saw a bird hovering around on the exhaust vents on the side of her home. Birds are attracted to exhaust and dryer vent ducts to nest because they are private places to lay their eggs hidden from potential predators and they like the warm air that flows through them. So, I already had a good idea of the problem.
As I inspected the exterior of the home to find the birds’ point of access, I came across a damaged plastic exhaust vent. Contractors debate plastic vs metal vent covers, and plastic has certainly become more popular in recent years, especially the new plastic resins like polypropylene. Unfortunately, there are also cheaper plastic vents installed that are prone to cracking and breaking down from exposure to the sun and the harsh outdoor elements. Over time, plastic exhaust vents can get beaten up pretty badly. Occasionally, when the fan turns on, the vent fins get stuck open, and that was the case here. As often happens, birds exploit the vent opening to build a nest inside the home. Damaged exhaust vents not only allow birds and other critters to gain access to your home but also allow moisture to come in, which can lead to mold and mildew problems. However, the biggest risk of all is the nesting material obstructing airflow and creating a fire hazard.
After carefully removed the nest, I sanitized and deodorized the vents with a solution that targets bird mites. Bird mites are parasites that feed on the blood of birds. When birds leave their nests, the mites are left behind without a suitable host for their next blood meal. They will make their way into a home, and once inside they will take over, climbing all over your walls, ceilings, and beddings. To make matters worse, bird mites are tiny and semi-transparent, so they are extremely difficult to detect. Bird mites are the main reason why extreme care is needed when removing a nest. The last thing you want to do is disrupt the mites that are crawling in and around the nesting material.
After removing all remnants of bird activity, I replaced the vent with a newer, upgraded exhaust vent with new fins. As added security, I placed a screen on the inside of the vent to prevent any more birds from attempting to access that area. Now, after completing this job, this home is bird-free with a new and improved exhaust vent. Best of all, there is a homeowner who is immensely relieved that her bird problem is gone!