Trapper Hank

Dear Bronx readers and animals, welcome to my new column here in the Bronx Times. I’m a former cop turned animal investigator, and after almost nine years with the ASPCA, I’ve retired to begin a new chapter in my career. I’ll now be a Wildlife Trapper with a group called A plus Wilflife Control.

Let me back up, though. Before my time with the ASPCA, I served 17 years with the NYPD as a narcotics officer. I was involved in over 300 arrests and nearly a thousand undercover operations.

Eventually I shifted to the ASPCA, where I often worked undercover as “Agent H,” infiltrating dog fighting rings and other illegal animal operations as part of a special task force called Humane Law Enforcement. A few months after joining the HLE, I nabbed the first Felony Animal Cruelty Indictment in New York City. I was also “unveiled” from an undercover agent on an episode of the show Animal Precinct, on the Animal Planet network, in 2005.

My interest in the large amount of wildlife popping up all over the five boroughs began when I was a police officer. At the ASPCA, I had the privilege of working with Special Investigator Mark MacDonald, who has 35 years of experience and knowledge. Mark has handled just about every animal imaginable, I was thrilled to have him as my partner, friend, and mentor. He recognized my passion for wild life issues and encouraged me to acquire a Department of Environmental Conservation Nuisance Wild Life Control Operator License.

After snagging that license I began private trapping jobs and found that I had an acute love for the field. I loved doing this work, but at this point I’m ready and eager to move on and try something new, putting the ASPCA behind me.

It sounds crazy, but I feel a bond with animals and have successfully trapped or “live-captured” over 200. Here’s one of my crazier stories: I had to trap was a mother raccoon that was on a deck, inside a box of clothing. She was highly aggressive, trying to protect her young. She literally came after me — she was giving me a warning. I climbed above her onto a rooftop and was able to utilize a catchpole and place her into a transport cage. Now the second part, that was when it got tough. I had to get all six of her young into the same cage. It was a struggle, but I managed to pull it off.

The real beauty of the story is when I brought the raccoons to a release site. She immediately exited the cage with one of her young and dropped the baby into a hollowed tree trunk that I had indeed hoped she would use. To my amazement, really showing off a family bond, she went back and forth re-entering the cage to get the rest. It was a highly unusual sign of love for her young.

Here’s another good one, now that I think about it. I had to track a coyote in Riverdale. I tracked him for four hours to learn his patterns and establish a dominant presence. I wanted to at least deter the coyote from returning to the resident’s property. I did not have a successful capture, but the idea was just to get a tracker on him. It seems the tracking worked so far, but there have been other sightings since. The scary part was realizing that at times he was tracking me as much as I was tracking him.

Now that I have joined A plus Wildlife Control there will be more of these little tales. No pun intended! I can really apply all my efforts into research and being that this is a “no kill” company, I can truly say I enjoy my work.

You can reach us over at A plus Wildlife Control: (917) 218-2058 or (718) 513-8202.

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