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updated: 4/6/2016 1:02 PM

Moving Picture: Meet the couple who captures pesky critters

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  • Video: Critter removal expert

  • After a day of trapping and removing animals, Brad Lundsteen releases the animals that he can onto private property where they will have a much better chance at life.

    After a day of trapping and removing animals, Brad Lundsteen releases the animals that he can onto private property where they will have a much better chance at life.
    courtesy of Katy Lundsteen

 
 

What should you do when you have a squirrel in your basement? What about a beaver taking over your backyard or a chipmunk in your chimney?

You can try to solve the issue yourself, or you can call Brad and Katy Lundsteen of Suburban Wildlife Control.

From an early age, Brad Lundsteen, 45, originally of St. Charles, knew that he wanted to help people with their critter removal problems. Lundsteen, who owns Suburban Wildlife Control with his wife, Katy, 39, can usually be found scouring the Fox Valley area handling a variety of different critter control issues.

"I used to trap animals as a kid for local farmers," he said. "They would have problems with raccoons, and I would ride down on my bike, trap them and ride back with the raccoon on my handlebars."

When he was a teenager and later attending St. Charles High School (now St. Charles East High School), Lundsteen would often miss class or even show up late to school because he was saving someone from a rodent infestation or an opossum under the porch.

"When I turned 16, I started charging gas money, and eventually when I was 18 in 1988 it turned into a full-time job," Lundsteen said.

Brad Lundsteen holds a couple of baby raccoons that he removed from a client's home.
Brad Lundsteen holds a couple of baby raccoons that he removed from a client's home. - Courtesy of Katy Lundsteen

By 9 a.m. most days, Lundsteen's truck is already practically full of squirrels, skunks, groundhogs, chipmunks and a whole slew of other critters to be safely relocated according to local code.

Flying squirrels, moles or skunks, Lundsteen handles them all with grace and care. Lundsteen says he has a connection with the animals.

After successfully catching a flying squirrel in an attic, Brad Lundsteen, of Suburban Wildlife Control, holds him up for inspection. The squirrel and his friends had chewed a hole through the roof and were causing mayhem in the attic. Lundsteen says that most people never see the flying squirrels because they are nocturnal.
  After successfully catching a flying squirrel in an attic, Brad Lundsteen, of Suburban Wildlife Control, holds him up for inspection. The squirrel and his friends had chewed a hole through the roof and were causing mayhem in the attic. Lundsteen says that most people never see the flying squirrels because they are nocturnal. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

"You get a feel for the animals, and you can kind of tell which ones are going to snap and which ones are going to bite," he said. "I can look at an animal and read their body language, so I kind of can know what they are going to do before they do it."

Recently, Lundsteen removed a very large skunk that had been terrorizing a St. Charles golf club and destroying the greens. He quietly sneaked up to the trapped animal to make sure he did not disturb him and slowly put a blanket over the cage. Then he proceeded to carry the huge animal to the cart like it was no big deal, all the time with a giant smile on his face and not a worry in the world.

From that stop, he headed to another along the Fox River in Geneva where he trapped and removed a 72-pound beaver that was destroying part of the riverfront. The beaver weighed so much that both of the Lundsteens had to work together to carry the giant animal to the truck.

After successfully trapping a squirrel, Brad Lundsteen of Suburban Wildlife Control scurries down the ladder.
  After successfully trapping a squirrel, Brad Lundsteen of Suburban Wildlife Control scurries down the ladder. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

"I have had a lot of weird things happen to me," Lundsteen says. For example, he says, one time he was releasing an 80-pound beaver that just didn't want to leave and it kept chasing him.

Other interesting cases Lundsteen recalls include the time he had to trap a 45-pound porcupine in Batavia after the animal had given a local dog a mouthful of quills. And the time he was called to help remove a 16-foot python that had wrapped itself around a car in Elgin.

With a handful of cages ready to go, Brad Lundsteen of Suburban Wildlife Control ducks back into a client's attic in the hopes of removing nuisance animals.
  With a handful of cages ready to go, Brad Lundsteen of Suburban Wildlife Control ducks back into a client's attic in the hopes of removing nuisance animals. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Fully licensed to trap and relocate animals, Lundsteen has several private release sites in the country far beyond the suburbs. His company offers a 100 percent guarantee of removal.

"The animals are actually in a better situation when they are released and relocated," Katy Lundsteen says.

Katy, a wildlife artist, will often document the recovery with video or pictures and load it to the company's website and YouTube channel.

Lundsteen is no stranger to fame. He and Katy have been featured in shows such as A&E's "Billy the Exterminator," Nat Geo Wild's show "Badass Animals," and several local newscasts.

Suburban Wildlife Control services most of Kane and DuPage counties, as well as part of Cook, and the Lundsteens say virtually all of their business is through word-of-mouth.

All of the Suburban Wildlife Control vehicles have plates that reflect what they do, like SKUNKD, WLD KAT, WLD LYF and SQURRLY -- all of them playfully describe Lundsteen's business.
  All of the Suburban Wildlife Control vehicles have plates that reflect what they do, like SKUNKD, WLD KAT, WLD LYF and SQURRLY -- all of them playfully describe Lundsteen's business. - Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

"We are a small, family-run business," Katy Lundsteen said. "When you call us, Brad is going to solve the problem, no matter what."

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