an Wauhop has seen just about everything.
At least everything that slithers, scratches, bites and has fur.
Known as “Trapper Dan,” Wauhop works for ZOOPRO, Inc., a company that humanely removes creatures from places they are not supposed to be. He is the man who comes out to people’s houses when they hear a strange noise, smell a most unpleasant odor or notice an animal has taken up residence in their home or business.
Often, he gets a panicked phone call. Not many want to tangle with wildlife under their own roof. So, they call Wauhop to evict the creatures.
And he’s happy to oblige.
“I’ve never had so much fun in my life,” he says. “Every day is something new.”
Wauhop, 61, joined ZOOPRO in 2006. He was living in Northern Virginia, doing flight control work when his brother, Michael, offered him a job with the company. Michael, a former elephant trainer and zookeeper, had started the company on the Southside and was working to expand to the Virginia Peninsula. Wauhop, jumped at the offer.
“I was looking for a change,” he says. “I have always loved animals.”
Wauhop lives in York County and basically works out of his truck with his dog, Samantha, in the passenger seat, and often his parrot, Myha. Most of the time, they are not alone. It is not uncommon to find animals in the back of the truck, often on the way to be released back into the wild or taken to a shelter.
As if he doesn’t see enough animals as part of his job, Wauhop even raises squirrels in his own backyard. He knows them by name, and they come back to visit him even after they have grown and flown.
“They are very smart,” he says. “And they are show offs. Sometimes they bring their girlfriends back.”
ZOOPRO uses only humane traps. The company does not use snap traps and is licensed, insured and bonded.
Wauhop has seen possums, raccoons, pigeons, rats, feral cats, groundhogs, squirrels, snakes and just about every other creature with four legs and fur. He not only takes the animals away, he also does home repairs to either fix the damage or keep the furry offenders from coming back to where they should not be.
His days are never boring. He happily tells stories of what he has seen and done over the years. He once had a lady pass out when he showed her the snakeskin from the snake that had been living in her midst.
“She fainted. I had to put a washcloth on her forehead,” he says. “I learned a valuable lesson that day.”
Once a woman thought she had detected a creature, but it turned out to be a person camping under her home.
To figure out what is scratching, smelling or destroying the property, Wauhop has to be a puzzle solver. He puts all the pieces together to determine what is living in the building and where it can be located. He looks for clues to lead him to the animal.
He likes the challenge. And he has no fear.
At the beginning, Wauhop was not a huge fan of snakes. He has since changed his opinion. He has been charged by raccoons and bitten by most every type of animal, but is unphased by it. It’s just a hazard of the job, he says.
“It doesn’t bother me,” says Wauhop, who has to make sure he has preventative rabies vaccines.
Recently, he did a bat excavation from a very old fireplace. It was a much bigger job than he expected. He discovered 800 pounds of bat droppings.
“It was seven feet deep,” he says.
“It was bad.”
Just another day in animal paradise, he says. And he means it.
“Now, air traffic, that was stress.
I don’t have that anymore,” he says.
“I love this. I will never retire.”
TO THE POINT
Business: Humane wildlife rescue and removal