HAWICK’S Kevin Newell is Scotland’s first humane pest controller.
The lifelong animal lover is helping people get foxes, rabbits, rats and other wildlife to leave gardens and homes alone.
“I would never consider any lethal forms of harm. It’s about using my knowledge of wildlife and how animals behave and putting that to good use.
“The service I am offering is unique, there is nothing else like this in Scotland,” he said.
The wildlife expert set up his Humane Wildlife Solutions company just over three weeks ago and already he’s dealt with mice in Edinburgh and Kelso, sent rats packing in Edinburgh – and is about to help two of that householder’s neighbours with mice – and there’s a query in about moles.
“It depends on where you are what the problem is. In the city it’s foxes and rats, in the Borders moles, mice and rats,” he said.
He looks to see what is bringing the animal in, then takes away the food source or blocks off whatever the attraction is, proofs the property, ensuring the animal cannot get in and takes it from there. He uses natural repellents with citronella or peppermint which overwhelm creatures like rats and mice with good senses of smell, causing them to leave, and he will use humane traps, releasing the animal in woodlands.
A scarecrow with a water pistol is used for rabbits and foxes, which are frightened by the jets of water hitting them and, consequently, don’t return.
He takes his 11-year-old dog Jazz, a greyhound cross whippet rescue, with him on jobs. Jazz sniffs out rat nests and, by leaving his scent and marking where a fox has been, acts as further deterrent to a fox.
Mr Newell is against catching and releasing foxes, arguing they will come back to their old territory, and he says killing them simply opens the garden to become another fox’s territory.
They could just be passing through, so he’d put prickly strips with cone spikes on surfaces the fox is likely to pass over or through. He sprays citronella repellent on the area and if that doesn’t work, brings in a scarecrow to deter him.
“It’s still his territory, but he is too scared to come back and it stops another fox moving in,” said Mr Newell.
The 30-year-old from Essex worked in an animal rescue and rehabilitation centre as a teenager, helping injured wildlife such as hedgehogs and squirrels.
“I’d start at 7am and some nights I wouldn’t go home, sleeping at the centre, because I loved it so much,” he said.
He has volunteered with wildlife trusts and the RSPCA, recorded and monitored badger setts and other wildlife, and created or cleaned up the environment for wild animals.
“I love nature and over the years doing all this work I’ve built up an extensive knowledge of wildlife,” he said.
A former Scottish Borders Council (SBC) officer, Mr Newell was made redundant from Igneous, where he helped people return to work, two years ago and wanted to do a job he loved.
His research showed SBC had received nearly 130 calls about rats, almost 80 concerning mice, nearly 20 about other mammals and several about birds causing problems in 2009-2010, with similar figures for the following year, through an increased bird problem. Mr Newell estimates those represent about 40 per cent of the wildlife conflict problems, with people otherwise dealing with it themselves or calling in private pest control.
Aside from making a living and helping people, he said: “I want to educate people so they see these animals in a different light.”
For more information visit www.humanewildlifesolutions.co.uk or ring Mr Newell on 07771 361226.