Got raccoons in your attic or possums under your porch? Backwoods Wildlife Management can capture them for you.
Owner Chris Dillman has been trapping wildlife since he was eight years old. It’s the way he earned his spending money while he was in Salem High School.
Now that he has retired from decades as a Salem Police Animal Control Officer and other policing duties, it’s his full-time job.
Dillman, who is a senior wildlife technician, and partner Aimee Newman, senior wildlife biologist, have operated Backwoods Wildlife Management part-time since she joined him in 2016.
Why he decided to form Backwoods Wildlife Management is simple: “I have the knowledge, I like helping people, and there’s a need for it.” His firm specializes in residential help.
Especially in spring and summer, people find they are sharing their homes and yards with wild creatures they do not want. Dillman and Newman can help.
“Most calls right now are groundhogs, skunks under houses and buildings doing damage,” Dillman explained. “Raccoons in attics, squirrels in attics, chipmunks digging under foundations and rock walls – they might be cute, but they actually do much damage,” he added.
People also call about foxes who are either too close to their houses, living under buildings or after their chickens.
Dillman can trap those, too. For coyotes, he recommends electric fence to keep them out.
When he was a boy, he trapped raccoons, foxes, muskrats and mink to sell their pelts. These days he uses a variety of traps to remove wildlife safely, and also helps out customers by making sure critters don’t find their way back into the customers’ homes.
“I enjoy the trapping part but also enjoy the exclusions to prevent future problems for the customers,” he said. He and his crew put up barriers under decks or in attics to keep the animals from coming back in.
“Critters will ‘cycle round’ if you don’t seal it back up,” Dillman added.
Newman, who is working on her master’s degree for Wildlife Management, helps with the trapping and exclusions. Dillman’s dad, Billy Dillman, and Dillman’s son Cody, 27, helps with exclusions on his days off from his job as assistant manager at Northwest Hardware on Brambleton.
In addition to trapping and exclusions, Backwoods Wildlife Management also provides a service that he said some other wildlife businesses don’t – free estimates and consultations.
“We like to treat everybody fairly and do the best job possible,” he explained.
He is a hometown Salem area guy. He and his wife, Tonia, live on Little Brushy Mountain with their 13-year-old son, Tristan, who attends Glenvar Middle School.
In addition to Cody, they also have a grown daughter, Michaela Irving, 24, who lives in North Carolina and is the mother of their grandchild, William, 3.
Dillman explained some of the intricacies of running a wildlife management business.
“Everybody has to be licensed individually, through the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, to trap and transport,” he said. There are certain animals, though, wildlife management people don’t deal with. “For turkey, bear and Canada geese you have to have a federal license, so we cannot do anything with those.”
Even though he’s been around troublesome animals for years and at times has to crawl under buildings and into other tight spots to do his job, Dillman says “Each call is a new experience. You’re always seeing something you haven’t seen before, which makes the job enjoyable.”
People who find they have critter problems can contact Backwoods Wildlife Management LLC Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. by calling 540-309-0533 and leaving a message. “We usually contact them within an hour,” said Dillman, who added, “I pride myself on customer service.”
Backwoods Wildlife Management will do emergency calls on weekends and after hours, too, for an extra fee.