Natural animal controls

Rebecca Dmytryk, on the forefront of humane wildlife control in California

Humane Animal Controls
HUMANE MEASURES An excellent alternative to harmful poisons, owls hunt for gophers, rats, moles and voles. One owl can eat up to a dozen rodents per night.

As the daughter of renowned 1940s and 1950s film director Edward Dmytryk and actress Jean Porter, Rebecca Dmytryk grew up around the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. But Dmytryk always preferred to get down and dirty in nature rather than shop in Beverly Hills. The 56-year-old Dmytryk is the president and CEO of Wildlife Emergency Services and Humane Wildlife Control.

Wildlife Emergency Services is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving emergency response to imperiled wildlife, with an emphasis on animal survivability and public safety. The organization has a local chapter, Wildlife Emergency Services San Benito County, which has garnered rave reviews thanks to the work of Hollister resident Deanna Barth.

Dmytryk and her husband Duane Titus run Humane Wildlife Control, which is an offshoot business of Wildlife Emergency Services. Dmytryk says Humane Wildlife Control is a pest control company that is on the cutting edge of animal wildlife rescue.

Rebecca Dmytryk with rodent
EARTH STEWARD Rebecca Dmytryk (above) and Duane Titus run a pest control company on the cutting edge of wildlife rescue.
Photo: Courtesy Rebecca Dmytryk

“At this point I feel like I’m riding a million dollar wave because the tide has turned. The bottom line is people do not want to kill wildlife and animals—they just want their problem solved,” says Dmytryk, who runs both organizations out of her home in Royal Oaks. “And we can do that. We have the knowledge and skills to do that. The trap-kill method is obsolete. Whether there are mice in the house, a skunk under the deck or a mountain lion roaming around, we have the knowledge and skills to solve the problem without killing animals.”

Dmytryk has been working with wildlife since 1981, when she obtained her first permit from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to rescue and rehabilitate injured animals. Humane Wildlife Control serves the Central Coast and greater Bay Area, the greater Los Angeles metro area and portions of Ventura County.

“There are maybe 20 of us across the country that are successful and proving this is the new way to deal with vertebrate wildlife pests,” Dmytryk says. “We don’t have to kill them.”

Dmytryk proudly points to her company’s work for the Haute Enchilada restaurant in Moss Landing as a harbinger for animal and wildlife control. The property was having issues with rodents, and instead of using poisonous bait stations, Dmytryk installed a barn owl box on top of a 20-foot pole on the property.

Barn Owl Relocation
BARN OWL RELOCATION For wildlife conservationists, barn owls, like this one held by Rebecca Dmytryk, offer a natural rodent control option. Photo: Courtesy Humane Wildlife Controls

Within a few days a pair of owls took residence in the box, and they started laying eggs. There are now eight babies as part of the family. Owls, of course, are proficient at rodent control. They hunt for gophers, rats, moles and voles, and one owl can eat up to a dozen rodents per night.

A barn owl family can consume 3,000 rodents in a single four-month breeding cycle, according to a montereycountyweekly.com article. The owls have gained a following, as their exploits are seen through a live feed on YouTube.

“It’s the first restaurant that we know of to employ barn owls,” Dmytryk says. “It’s great because they’re a natural rodent control option.”

Dmytryk credits her mom for instilling in her a passion for wildlife. Dmytryk recalls one moment in which she handed over what she thought was a dead hamster only to see Porter revive it.

“The hamster looked dead and felt dead,” Dmytryk says. “I was crying, but my mom was a healer. She would take things and make them better. She put the hamster in an open oven, and sure enough it came back to life. It was just in hibernation, but it was like a miracle.

“My mom was never afraid of anything. She would bring in cats with horrible injuries and heal them up. I think her bravery kept my mind open and my compassion for animals developed as a result of her compassion,” she says.

Dmytryk says Porter allowed her to do daring things at an early age, like handle rattlesnakes—at age 13. Dmytryk also says her mom sometimes took her out of school on Fridays to go fishing.

“I mean, who does that?” Dmytryk says. “I’m glad that allowed me to do those things, but who does that?”

Dmytryk says when the family lived in Monte Nido—an unincorporated community located in the Santa Monica mountains, three miles north of Malibu—she would often ride horses eight hours a day, reading books authored by Alan Watts, Jane Goodall and E.O. Wilson. It was there that she dreamed of making a difference in this world.

“Growing up I saw the importance of protecting the environment and made the commitment to protect it,” she says.

For more information, visit humanecontrol.com.

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