John Bourgoin works daily to allay the fears of homeowners who call to report hearing “strange noises in the night.”

Bourgoin, of Lisbon, is no ghost buster. He’s a trapper for a pest control management business that exterminates bugs and removes wild animals from homes.

Today, Bourgoin’s job list includes requests to rid three homes of mice, one of a squirrel and one of a raccoon. Next week, he expects to face off with a beaver whose dam is flooding the backside of a golf course.

It’s all in a day’s work. 

Q: Tell me about Atlantic Pest Solutions.

A: It’s a family-owned business that started in 1939, primarily doing (bug or pest extermination) for private residences and commercial work like at hospitals, schools or nursing homes. The son later expanded the business to include capturing (nuisance animals) like beavers, raccoons, squirrels and foxes that make their way into homes or neighborhoods. 

Q: Where is the business located?

A: The main office is in Arundel, but it also will have an office in Brunswick. 

Q: What is your job description?

A: I’m the company’s only full-time trapper. I remove (nuisance animals from homes or properties). And I also am licensed to do bug extermination using chemicals or heat remediation. 

Q: How long have you been doing the animal control work?

A: I’ve been a state-licensed trapper for 30 years. But I’ve been doing this since 1979. I started out fur trapping for pelts at age 17 with my father and grandfather. 

Q: Is it a full-time job? 

A: Yes. About 50 hours a week in the summer through fall when the animals are active. Animals, like squirrels and raccoons, like to birth their young in summer homes and vacant buildings. They can do a tremendous amount of damage making their nests in a home. I just got a call from a man who came to his Maine summer home recently to escape for a quiet weekend. He found a raccoon living in his house and a squirrel nesting in the eves. 

Q: How did the animals get inside?

A: The raccoon came in through the chimney, popped out the vent and was living upstairs. It left sooty footprints all over the furniture and the bed and left trash everywhere. 

Q: Are these solo jobs, or do you have a backup?

A: Mostly solo, but I have another tech go with me if I’m going into a tight spot, like a crawl space, to remove an animal. Most of our technicians are trained to spray for bed bugs, hornet nests and ant or insect infestations. But I also have trained them on how to set and bait traps for specific animals and what signs to look for to determine what kind of animal they are dealing with. One way to do that is by identifying animal droppings. I joke that our company slogan should be “We really know our (stuff),” but that wouldn’t go over very well. 

Q: How are the house calls scheduled?

I have a list of planned visits to make each day. And I make “emergency” visits to remove animals. This morning, my first job was to capture a family of skunks that was living in some (playground equipment) at a day-care center — a mother skunk and six babies. 

Q: Did you get sprayed? 

A: No. Skunks don’t spray unless they feel threatened, and they won’t spray if they can’t see you. I always put dark covers over my cages when I set them up. That keeps the animal calm and shields it from sun and weather. They go in to take the bait and the door closes behind them so they can’t get out. 

Q: What do you do with them? 

A: In seasonable months, we release the raccoons and skunks in (game warden-approved, remote locales). But in winter we have to euthanize them. It would be inhumane to leave them out in the cold to die with no food source or shelter. 

Q: Do you handle stray or feral cats or dogs?

A: No. That’s a job for the town animal control officer. We only deal with wild animals. Fully one-third of our business is capturing squirrels, one-third bats and the rest wildlife like beavers, muskrats, fox, raccoons and rats. Gray squirrels do the most damage, chewing wires and tearing out insulation. I once had a job where there were 40 flying squirrels in an attic. 

Q: What’s your coverage area?

A: From Camden-Rockport to Durham, N.H. Though I’ve done work in Moosehead, Bangor and Bar Harbor.

Q: Have you had your rabies shots?

A: Yes. But I’ve never been bitten (during a capture). 

Q: Do you get a lot of calls to remove rabid animals?

A: We don’t handle rabid animals. Those cases are referred to game wardens. 

Q: How many calls do you make a day?

A: On average, seven to eight per day.

Q: What’s the process for trapping and pickup?

A: I meet with the customer, ask questions and look for signs telling me what kind of animal I’m dealing with. Sometimes I go right in (to extract it). And sometimes I have to set out a trap or cage and return later to pull the traps and seal up the entry holes to prevent re-entry. I also have to write out a report for the office to document my findings and how I responded (to the situation). 

Q: How are customers charged for the work?

A: We charge a fee for an initial visit to determine the need and setup (for capture), and there is a follow-up fee for successive visits, starting at $75.