30 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY March 7-13, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com FACE TO FACE Rats chewing through the cables of an automobile engine. Mice scurrying behind the kitchen walls. Perhaps fruit trees falling prey to hungry raccoons or even a coyote using a suburban neighborhood as its hunting ground. When animals became a nuisance, people had few options—none of them very pleasant. Trapping or poisoning remain common, but that is beginning to change. Rebecca Dmytryk of Moss Landingbased Humane Wildlife Control advocates solving the problem that led to the animal’s presence rather than resorting to methods resulting in the death of the “pest.” The products the company creates are designed to prevent them from returning after being released back into the wild—devices such as repellent barriers and one-way doors that provide a permanent solution. Dmytryk is at the forefront of poison-free animal services. They rely on hands-off steps as much as possible, first inspecting the situation then recommending repairs and introducing tools to exclude animals in the future. Dmytryk has become a national leader in humane control. She will be speaking on innovative and eco-friendly wildlife management techniques at the Vertebrate Pest Conference in Monterey on March 14. Weekly: How many pest control companies try to operate exclusively as no-kill? Dmytryk: Doing it exclusively? I think maybe 20 companies in the U.S. We have knowledge of animal behavior. It’s like a physicist who can rattle off an equation. No, it’s not that hard— but it is like a math equation. If you do this, the particular animal will do that. For the most part, they behave a certain way. Is this the future of pest control? Yes. People don’t know they have a choice now. Why aren’t we talking about exclusion? It works. At least 15 years ago, a friend introduced me to it. I was resistant at first. I don’t know why I was resistant. I guess I just didn’t understand. Maybe they’re as scared as I was to get into this work, but this is the way of the future. But I notice you don’t say “pest.” I can’t use the word pest. We cause everything. The animals work together perfectly in nature. Then humans come in. So our job is to change behavior. We solve the problem instead of focusing on the animals. Human-wildlife conflict is what we resolve. Humans start the situation. We feed birds, we feed wildlife. But people want the problem solved. If they have a choice, they don’t want to have the animal killed, which is great. And there’s growing pressure on the poison industry. Until recently you did use methods that killed ground squirrels. We used to do gassing when people were going to go for poison, they broadcast the poison on the ground. Anything can eat it—no, no, no, no, no, no! We only consult on the best poison-free solutions and have stopped actually performing the fumigation with [carbon monoxide]—although we still believe it is the most humane and effective method should people have a problem with these animals in abundance, because they just pass out. There’s no pain. What about trapping? We don’t use traps unless the animal is in the subfloor of a home. We have to evict them—catch them and let them go. We make repairs. We want your home to be rodent-free. With larger animals, no traps are necessary. What caused them to be on your property? Let’s look at that. The animal isn’t a symptom, it’s an indicator. We have to help them. The work is learning to identify how they are getting in and be able to think like the animal. I’m still outsmarted quite a bit. Those roof rats—wow, they can do some acrobatics. I love animals. They are amazing. How did this love of animals start? I don’t know what she was thinking. My mom let me pick up rattlesnakes. She let me go riding for half a day by myself. I got bonded and pledged allegiance to nature. I assume you have pets? We have two dogs and two cats at the moment—all rescues. My husband lost his best friend nine months ago. We’ll probably end up getting a puppy. Over the years there must have been some unusual encounters. There was the time when we pulled three baby raccoons out of a Carmel art gallery—they had fallen down through an open skylight. Another time was getting a baby opossum out of the engine of a Maserati. The Vertebrate Pest Conference takes place March 11-14 at the Monterey Marriott. ucanr.edu. Conflict Resolution Rebecca Dmytryk is at the forefront of humane solutions to problem animals. By Dave Faries Rebecca Dmytryk of Humane Wildlife Control with a couple of tools in a toolbox that range from items to bar large animals to innovative devices like one-way doors that allow a small, unwanted guest to leave. 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