Catch and release
Pest management company takes the humane approach
The standoff lasted approximately three minutes. Jon Haderle squared off against his opponent on the roof of a house. The two eyed each other fiercely. Suddenly, his opponent made a mad dash to an exposed hole in the house. But Haderle got there first.
“It was crazy!” Haderle recalled months later. “That was one stubborn squirrel. It was almost like he was human. I caught him in the act, and he knew exactly what I was there to do—seal that hole.”
Haderle wasn’t there to kill the squirrel. He and his business partner Wes Blizzard run their Rancho Cordova-based company, Blizzard Pest Management, with a humane approach to dealing with animal dilemmas, which means euthanizing is the absolute last resort.
The pest-control industry is not known for being eco-friendly. Pest control is traditionally carried out through a bait, poison or kill method of extermination. However, Blizzard and Haderle pride themselves on breaking the conformities of the industry. What angry homeowners call “pesky rodents,” Blizzard and Haderle call “wildlife.” They believe that squirrels, opossums, skunks and other creatures that wander into structures don’t deserve to be hastily euthanized.
The business owners have 35 years combined experience in pest management and serve as the humane ambassadors to the rodent community as far east as Pollock Pines. They deal with everything from opossums and squirrels to raccoons and birds, and have even turned the occasional stray cat over to the Humane Society.
Blizzard has always been an animal lover, but he admitted that a long time ago, he was an avid hunter and fisherman. However, this changed after a devastating event. Back in the 1980s, Blizzard lived on a large piece of land in Anchorage, Ind., with his beloved German shepherds. One day, his neighbor decided to try out a new gun he had purchased. He did so on the two dogs, shooting both in their hind legs. The dogs dragged themselves to Blizzard’s home. They spent the rest of their lives hobbling on three legs.
“I couldn’t stand to see another animal suffer after that,” Blizzard said. “It was absolutely devastating. I gave up fishing and hunting because of it. It deeply affected me. Everything needs a chance. That’s what my company does.”
From the business’s start in 1993, it’s taken the humane approach. Blizzard and Haderle scope out the cause of the infestation and remove rodents by entrapment. Trapping devices are strategically placed in the structure, accompanied by exclusion devices that serve as a barrier between the building and animals.
Once captured, the animals are relocated in the legal proximity of a quarter-mile of the structure it previously inhabited. To prevent pests from returning, the home is thoroughly inspected for holes, which are then sealed.
In some cases, the company works with the customer to change the habits of the animal, by detouring and repelling the creatures: removing sources of food and conducting better sanitation work to modify the behavior habits of the wildlife. In this way, it isn’t even necessary to disrupt the animals at all, because they remove themselves.
As much as Haderle and Blizzard try to refrain from poison and bait, sometimes they don’t have a choice. The main objective of their company is to ensure that human health is not jeopardized by rodents, which means that rats are often euthanized because they pose an especially high health hazard as carriers of disease.
Insect control is another component that has yet to see a greener solution. The size of insects and sheer number of them infesting a structure make it difficult to control insects in a way other than euthanasia.
“We’re looking for more Earth-friendly methods of getting rid of bugs,” Haderle said. “The farthest we’ve gone is using poison baits rather than spray toxins into the air.”
Haderle and Blizzard should write a memoir about their many rodent-capturing shenanigans, including rooftop-standoffs with pesky squirrels. They also have plenty of wisdom to impart: “Well, for one thing,” Haderle advised, “people in small places don’t go well with angry raccoons.”
But despite all of the craziness with “pesky rodents,” Haderle and Blizzard still love their wildlife.