PICKENS COUNTY — The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has a new ally when it comes to dealing with wildlife that has become problematic: GRS Wildlife Control.
GRS Wildlife Control recently began serving Pickens and Oconee counties in the Upstate by removing troublesome creatures for local families and businesses.
GRS manager Melissa Gibson said the need is great for residents as well as the animals.
“We met with DNR Officer Gilmore just a short time ago and got everything squared away,” said Gibson. “If someone calls DNR with a problem skunk or raccoon … he’s going to refer them to us. GRS is one of, if not the only, licensed fur-bearing wildlife control companies serving these counties.”
According to SCDNR, “fur-bearing” refers to any animal with fur that has value including beavers, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, mink, muskrats, opossums, otters, raccoons, skunks and weasels. In addition to the fur-bearers, GRS also handles problem deer.
Gilbert runs GRS along with her husband, Gene.
“I’m the business end,” said Gibson, “Gene’s more out in the field.”
Due to DNR regulations prohibiting the relocation of trapped animals, problem animals are put down after capture. Gibson explained the logic behind the laws.
“We’re animal lovers, both of us, but some animals carry diseases — rabies, roundworms, you name it. If you trap an animal and then relocate it, you run the risk of spreading a disease to a healthy population,” she said.
According to Gibson, most of the calls are for smaller animals.
“Raccoon, skunk and opossum populations are really high. They get into people’s trash, their garages … Raccoon are known for carrying rabies and roundworm. As people continue to build, these animals are being pushed in closer proximity to us,” she said. “It’s not their fault, but at the same time, you have to be safe and you have to control these animals’ numbers.”
She said the general public sees them as furry and cute and don’t recognize the danger that can be associated with them.
“We don’t want to hurt them, we love nature. But when the population of an animal is uncontrolled, you get problems, you get disease, you get starvation. Then the population becomes unhealthy,” said Gibson.
She used the example of wild boar.
“They’re here,” she said. “These boar are not only dangerous because they can attack you, they also can carry some awful diseases. Coyote is another example. At first they were only in Pickens and Oconee counties here in South Carolina. Now they can be found in every county in the state. These are populations that need to be controlled, for everyone’s benefit, including the animal’s.”
GRS is licensed by SCDNR to remove fur-bearing animals whether they are “in season” or not.
“That’s a special permit that’s issued,” said Gibson. “So if you have a deer or something that’s becoming a danger and it’s not deer season, we will still be able to help.”
GRS is equipped to extract beaver, chipmunk, coyote, deer, fox, groundhog, mink, mole, opossum, rabbit, raccoon, skunk, squirrel, bobcat and feral hog, said Gibson. If there is a nuisance animal not on the list, GRS can discuss solutions with the homeowner for extraction of the animal.
“Bow hunting, trapping, snaring and caging would be the means of extraction for nuisance animals depending on the property and or situation and if using a bow or cross bow, we would need to be 100 yards away from all residences as per law,” she said.
Problem animals can be reported to SCDNR or to GRS Wildlife Control at 864-360-9701.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.