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Leave it to the beavers

Photo by Johnny Jackson 
David McCloud observes a beaver's dam.

Photo by Johnny Jackson David McCloud observes a beaver's dam.

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

David McCloud spent much of his childhood in Bessemer, Ala.

In the working class suburb of Birmingham, Ala., he earned his stripes as an ardent University of Alabama football fan, and as an outdoorsman.

The Hampton father of three recalled spending hours with his father, Thomas, on various hunting excursions in north Alabama during the 1970s.

"He started me out when I was her age," said McCloud, pointing to his youngest daughter, 2-year-old Serah.

"He would teach me as I go, and taught me to be observant," he continued. "He told me, don't just look at the woods, see the woods."

McCloud has turned his childhood experiences and passion for the outdoors into a career. He is owner and operator of the Hampton-based Georgia Wildlife Services, Inc.

McCloud has been a licensed wildlife control operator for the past decade. He said he specializes in trapping beavers, bats, and other animals that may pose potential health hazards for area citizens.

"I've dealt with critters all my life," said the trapper, whose services include relocating field mice, rabbits, birds, snakes, moles, beavers, squirrels, chipmunks, and rats.

"My preference would be beavers, bats, and coyote, in that order," he continued. "It's important to be able to read signs -- reading the mind of a beaver. Everything is knowing the animals, knowing their habits."

McCloud is still on the hunt for one beaver in a semi-rural area, near a business district linking McDonough and Hampton. The beaver has managed to elude McCloud for the past several weeks, but the woodsman is confident he will gain the upper hand sooner or later.

McCloud acknowledged he is occasionally outwitted by the semi-aquatic rodents, as he spoke from a vast trove of trapping experience over the years.

Attired in rubber overalls, McCloud stood on the banks of a tributary in Hampton recently, describing the habits of beavers and how the local beaver population has been on the rise lately.

Waterways in the area are studded with beaver dams, like the one in a Hampton neighborhood near his home. McCloud said the beaver dam, reaching his waist and spanning the width of a two-lane road, was built in a matter of months.

Beavers, he said, are resilient animals who are driven to build dens and dams during cooler months of the year. They tend to be slower in the warmer months.

McCloud said he ventures out into local wetlands on a regular basis and keeps contact with other wildlife control experts like famed wildlife control operator, Kirk DeKalb of Moultrie, Ga.

"Ideally, I'm a problem solver," said McCloud, as he mobilized his truckload of traps -- cages, snares, and ropes.

The wildlife control expert said it is life experience and a commitment to continuing education that makes a person in the wildlife control industry successful.

McCloud has relied on his previous experience as a subcontractor in home-building to aid him in wildlife control home removals. He is able to find entry points in homes that residents do not realize exist. He said most of his calls have to do with animals -- squirrels or bats -- accessing those entry points.

McCloud considers himself a "crusader" in educating people on wildlife protections for the sake of native wildlife and local residents alike.

The Alabama-born woodsman said he continues to be an advocate for his profession and would like to see better education and better training in his industry.

"I'm trying to raise the bar, because a rising tide raises all ships," said McCloud.