By Mary Ann Ellis
Jason Bass was born and raised in Appling County, graduated from Appling County High School, and has spent his whole life here. He met his wife Lynett in Alma when he was working in construction at Lee’s Meats over there. Their eight-year-old daughter, Jalyn, has a combination of their two names, but she’s very much an individual. Lynett also works with Jason in their business - JLB Nuisance Wildlife Control (912-240-4205).
Jason has been trapping for years, but he wants to assure people that the traps he uses do not hurt the animals. Lots of people have a negative attitude about his job and complain about it, but what they don’t realize is that he mostly does damage control. Who wants to live with bats and squirrels in the attic? Who wants his house flooded because the beavers built a dam in the wrong place? It may not be the job for everyone, but Jason does it as humanely as possible.
“I could trap the family dog, and it wouldn’t hurt him,” Jason said. “So many people automatically think of the traps with the big teeth when they hear what I do for a living, but it’s not that way anymore.”
For the past ten years, Jason has been working fulltime as a nuisance wildlife control officer and as such, he can trap the whole year long. Before he started fulltime, he worked part time for about a year before he went to Brunswick and took his test to be certified. Prospective officers must score at least 80 or above to become licensed, which Jason did. People call from homes and businesses to report bats or squirrels in the attic. One lady in Mershon had bats in her attic for 30 years before she found out that people were available to take care of her problem. She almost cried when she found out that help was available. Not only are bats in the attic a real nuisance, but they reek of ammonia too. Jason and Lynett were able to solve her problem by netting the gable end of the house and covering any holes or crevices where the bats could enter. They were careful to leave the window open a bit so the bats could exit, but when they came back, they couldn’t get back in. Even at that, it took two and a half weeks to get rid of them. They left behind an incredibly happy woman. The Department of Natural Resources says they cannot relocate the bats, which are a protected species; they can however exclude them. They must find every tiny hole and close it up because bats can get in holes as small as one inch.
Flying squirrels can find a hole and chew it to make it bigger so they can get in; now and in the spring at nesting time are the worst times for them. People can have big infestations before they realize it. They have removed bats from schools, squirrels from the Baxley City Hall, and assorted critters from lots of other places. On the DNR website is a list of trappers all over the state and the areas where they work: https://georgiawildlife.com/about/contact.
The main thing JLB does is beaver control for five different timber companies, which lose thousands of dollars every year when the beavers build dams and flood the timber. They work from Folkston to Richmond Hill and all in between.
“If they’d just stay in the swamps and not come into the pines, we wouldn’t have a problem,” one timber company owner said, “but they keep coming into the pinelands. That’s when we have to do something.”
They also trap coyotes for predator control for hunting clubs, thus protecting deer and turkeys from them. Recently they got a chimney sweep out of someone’s fireplace.
“One day I was taking a picture of a bobcat, and I was in his circle,” Jason observed. “We catch them by a foot, which doesn’t hurt them, but they can’t get away. They can move only in a circle. We take them away from the hunting club and relocate them. This one almost got me. It nearly swiped my leg. That was a close call. Those claws could do major damage.”
Jason and Lynett enjoy working together, but the third partner joined them when COVID closed the school. She was excited. “Welcome home, baby,” she said to her mom and dad when she came in. “I couldn’t concentrate anyway, wondering what you and daddy were doing. I’m going to be a game warden when I grow up.”
Jason can even capture four-foot and under alligators, but no bigger. He’s removed snakes from attics, even in schools, but he doesn’t do many of those. He says you can remember which ones are poisonous because they have cat eyes.
They stayed busy full time this year, starting January 15 and worked seven days a week until Memorial Day. They even trap in the summer when the snakes are bad, but most folks don’t.
“All the coyotes and beavers look different,” Jason said. “Once we caught a raccoon in a trap, and I thought the cable was around his neck, but it was in his mouth. When I reached for him, he turned the cable loose and bit my arm, which was quite painful. The dog treed a possum, and I brought it in for a picture. Even though I had on gloves, it bit me through my hand. We never get bored; there’s something different happening all the time. One time I let a bobcat out of the trap down at the river to let him go free, and he wouldn’t let me off the tailgate. He just sat down and looked at me. He was mad. Cats have a bad attitude. One day Lynett was on their Honda side by side, and a bobcat got in with her.”
Lynett says that their job is like a box of chocolates; sometimes you get what you’re after, but not always.