In some homes, the pitter-patter of little feet is the joyous sound of a growing family. To Ron and Becky Peters, it often means a phone call to remove a family of uninvited guests.
The Peters, owners of Wildlife Patrol in Wisconsin Rapids, ventures up to 100 miles to rid businesses and homes of everything from bats and mice to racoons, snakes and even coyotes.
In fact, one such “coyote” even became a family pet.
“We got a call that a coyote was hanging around Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids hanging out under the bleachers and watching the kids play football,” Becky said. “It never barked. We went and checked it out. It turned out to be a border collie/German Shepherd mix. When he’s all fluffed out, he does kind of resemble a coyote.”
They took him to the humane society, where the stray went unclaimed. In their short time together, they’d grown attached to him, so they gave him a forever-home, even naming him Wylie to commemorate how they came into each other’s lives.
Wylie wasn’t the only call that resulted in the Peters’ family gaining an addition.
“There was a cat in the Walmart in Marshfield,” Becky said. “It was breaking into their cat food. We got a call and had to go remove it.”
Another visit to the humane society, another unclaimed critter, another family pet. This one they named Wally.
Not every call ends with Ron and Becky Peters adding a family pet. While the majority of their calls are residential, the ones from businesses often resemble the circumstances of that Walmart.
Invasive animals can wreak havoc on inventory, structural elements such as padding and fabrics, and even wiring.
“We were getting calls from a mill in Rapids about racoons,” Becky said. “They were getting into some of the chemicals and then not acting right. Racoons are very curious. They’re like a cat that way.”
I’ve seen big men, one was 6-foot-6, hiding in a bathtub with a pan over their head because they were afraid of bats.
—Ron Peters, co-owner,
Ron established his business in 2001, when the avid hunter had begun taking an interest in trapping. He took a seminar in Las Vegas and won a trap as a door prize and began using it to capture moles in his yard.
“I caught one every day and started to think I might have a knack for this,” he said. He took a business class at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids and founded Wildlife Patrol.
Becky entered his life in 2005, and their first date took an interesting and unconventional turn.
“We were going out and he said, ‘I have to stop at a job,’” she said. “We get there and he hands me a net and says, ‘It’s a bat job.’ I was like, ‘Um, OK …’ He said, ‘If one comes out, grab it with this.’ ”
No bats showed themselves, but plenty would in their ensuing years together.
Becky would immerse herself full time into the venture, while Ron Peters continued his fulltime occupation while working animal control part time. He finally made the switch to leaving his driving job and going full time with Wildlife Patrol in late 2019 when the work simply got to be too much for Becky to handle alone.
“I should’ve done it 10 years earlier,” he said of finally deciding to make the switch, “but I liked the security of having that full-time job.”
Since then, the couple have removed a bevy of bats and squirrels, chased off relentless racoons and skunks, and snatched up snakes of all sizes.
“I’ve seen big men, one was 6-foot-6, hiding in a bathtub with a pan over their head because they were afraid of bats,” Ron said.
Since turning his attention to Wildlife Patrol full time, the Peters couple have seen business roughly double from 2019 to 2020, and they appear to be on track to do so again in 2021.
“We’ve gotten more calls since people have been home more,” Becky Peters said. “They hear every little sound more.”
Sometimes people even hear things that aren’t there, which has allowed Ron and Becky Peters to develop a sense of counseling to nervous callers. It’s this same compassion they take into every job, where they preserve and protect every animals they can.
Business has grown to where they’re considering adding two full timers to their staff of two part timers.