- Associated Press - Sunday, July 6, 2014

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - There’s the turkey in the bedroom.

There’s the boa constrictor in the truck.

There’s the raccoon in the living room.

There are the moles in the yards.

And, yes, there’s the fried owl in the chimney.

“I’ve got a million stories,” said Dave Bowers, who runs Bowers Wildlife and Pest Control out of his constantly moving truck. “I should write a book.”

Bowers, a retired W.K. Kellogg Middle School teacher who started his pest control business in 1992 as a “hobby,” has watched it take off in ways he never imagined, according to the Battle Creek Enquirer ( http://bcene.ws/1syW6yS ).

He has removed unwanted critters from homes and businesses from Sturgis to Hastings to Albion and Marshall.

He has been called in by the Kellogg Co. and Lowe’s and Wal-Mart and Denso. He has removed moles from local golf courses and dead raccoons from insurance agencies. He was also called in by Enbridge Inc. after the 2010 oil spill to help trap, clean and tag oil-laden wildlife from the damaged Kalamazoo River.

“I was in airboats for 25 weeks,” he said. “I was in charge of 23 miles of the river.”

He has found animals in places he never expected and he is often amazed by human nature and its reactions to the wildlife that intrudes on everyone’s life.

Then again, that’s why he’s around.

Bowers recalls a time when a husband called him panicked and crying.

“He said, ‘I’m in the central bathroom with my wife and kids,’ ” Bowers said. “I asked what the problem was and he said, ‘There’s a bat in the house.’ And I’m thinking, ‘A bat? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.’ “

But he always answers the call, 24 hours a day, because when it comes to animals intruding on the human condition, no one really wants to wait.

In fact, Bowers says he needs to only ask five questions to find out exactly what the problem is and what’s causing it: What are you hearing? What time of the day or night do you hear it? Is it moving fast or slow? Where do you hear it? And how long have you been hearing it?

Armed with that information, Bowers is able to make his estimation and remove the pest.

“It’s just like a doctor,” he said. “You ask for the symptoms.”

He also does his job without the use of poisons and pesticides.

“I know what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

More often than not he uses “live” traps, which capture the animal humanely and allows Bowers to release it in the country, often on the 130-acre alfalfa and hay farm he lives on in East Leroy with Leslie, his wife of 34 years.

“I can’t let them all go there or else I’d have the Wild Kingdom,” he said.

He smiles and says it again.

“I should write a book.”

Bowers, 61, is also a pilot with a runway on his farm and a reserve sheriff’s deputy. He also has the relaxed, natural manner of a born storyteller and for several years he co-hosted a show with Dave Eddy on WBCK radio as people would call in with their creature problems.

He also speaks to groups around the area, again offering his advice about getting rid of pests.

For example, he advises anyone dealing with animals to follow one simple rule: move slowly. He has a great recipe for getting rid of the smell of skunk spray: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap. He tells anyone who sees one rodent in their home there are plenty of others that can’t be seen and, again, he emphasizes people use common sense.

Though he admits, “Common sense isn’t so common.”

Bowers talks about a phone call he received from the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Coldwater and how there was a hawk trapped in the massive facility.

“Now hawks are a federal issue,” Bowers said. “I know I’d be the bad guy if I caught it and I know I’d be the bad guy if I didn’t. So I told him to open up every door in the place for about 10 to 15 minutes.”

Bowers called back soon after and the hawk was gone.

He has another story. He always has another story.

“This guy finds a woodchuck in his garage and so he closes the garage door and calls me,” he said. “So this woodchuck chews up all the wood it can reach around the garage. He didn’t know what he was chewing, he was just trying to get out. All the guy had to do was keep the garage door open. People don’t use common sense sometimes and it keeps us in business.”

And another from the guy who asked Bowers to please remove the mice in his house before they grew up to become rats.

Bowers clearly loves what he does and even though the work is often the same day in and day out, there’s always something new.

“This time of year, the babies are just being born,” Bowers said as he prepared to go to a home to remove baby skunks. “In August, it’s bats. Oh my God, they drive me nuts. I call them flying mice.”

But he’s doing what he’s good at and he’s meeting a need.

He is joined by his sons David, 32, and Paul, 30, who are both sheriff’s deputies and help part time.

“When they’re not catching two-legged critters, they’re catching four-legged ones,” Dave said

Business continues to be brisk and he is planning to expand in the coming years because, as he well knows, neither the wildlife nor the humans are going anywhere and collisions are inevitable.

“I go from one job to the next to the next,” he said with a smile. “I go all over the world. The stuff we do is so cool.”

___

Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer, http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com

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