By Russ Tarby
For the past 16 years, the village of Liverpool has lacked its own nuisance-wildlife trapper. In 2004, trapper Ken Bentz retired after more than a dozen years of removing skunks and woodchucks from Liverpool neighborhoods.
Since then, village residents with critter concerns have had to contact the town of Salina trapper who rarely managed to prioritize village requests. Until recently, the resident had to pay a nominal fee for the service. Last December, Walker’s Wildlife Solutions declined to renew its contract with Salina, so since January local property owners had nowhere to turn for relief from nuisance wildlife.
After many years of listening to Liverpool residents about the problem, at a special meeting on Aug. 27 the village board of trustees – Mayor Gary White, Deputy Mayor Christina Fadden and Trustees Matt Devendorf and Michael LaMontagne – unanimously approved hiring an animal trapper to specifically service the village.
And that professional trapper turns out to be the former Salina contractor, Mike Walker, owner of Walker’s Wildlife Solutions of East Syracuse. Walker is licensed as a nuisance wildlife control operator by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Walker worked for the town of Salina from 2015 to the end of 2019, but he said a conflict over insurance coverage led him to decide against renewing his town contract. He told the trustees, however, that he carries his own liability insurance.
The village will pay Walker a $5,000 annual retainer for which he will remove skunks, opossum and woodchucks at no cost to the resident for his initial call. Walker will advise the resident how to repair their property to make it less attractive to wildlife, but if the problem requires a return visit there will be a $25 charge.
Devendorf was pleased to vote in favor of Walker’s hiring.
“This is a great value to our residents,” he said, “at a reasonable cost.”
Walker routinely provides services such as animal capture and removal, dead-animal removal and poison-free rodent control using live trapping.
While the village specifically cited a need to target skunks and groundhogs, Walker also has experience trapping bats, raccoons, birds and beaver.
Red foxes have moved into the village in recent years. Walker said he’ll closely follow the DEC’s rules and regulations to deal with them.
White emphasized that Walker was hired to service village properties only.
To contact the trapper, call 315-857-3856 or email him at [email protected].
Liverpool Deputy Mayor Christina Fadden hopes that the village’s new animal trapper, Mike Walker, will help educate residents about living alongside diverse wildlife.
“We need to make sure people know the habitat value of various wildlife,” she said. “We need to find a balance.”
For instance, Walker pointed out that – although he’ll remove opossums – he often informs homeowners that those animals feed on ticks, tiny insects which cause Lyme disease and other illnesses.
“Many times, the residents get the idea,” Walker said, “and they say, ‘Sure, let’s let them go and do their thing.”