Skunk whisperer and city worker

Chelsea Self
Post Independent
Bud Gardner has worked for the City of Glenwood Springs for 23 years but is also a pest animal trapper for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Almost everyone in Glenwood Springs knows Bud Gardner, whether it’s by describing him as “the guy with the tall cowboy hat in the big vector truck” or just simply as Bud — the guy who waves at everyone because that’s what people did back in the day.

Bud Gardner has worked for the City of Glenwood Springs for the last 23 years. When asked what exactly it is he does for the city he says “I help everybody.” Which is no exaggeration. When the streets department needs help filling potholes on Midland Avenue, Bud is there. When a main water line flooded Seventh Street last fall, Bud was there to help clean up the mess.

What many people don’t know, however, is that Bud’s daily grind goes beyond working for the city.

His day starts at 3 a.m., well before most people even contemplate getting out of bed.

Bud works as a “pest animal” trapper for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“I’ve been trapping since I was a little boy,” Bud said. Raised on a ranch in Carbondale, he spent a lot of his time in the backcountry with his uncle and grandfather. “I lived on a ranch, I didn’t hardly come into town. I was too much of a hell raiser,” he said.

Bud started out trapping skunks, muskrats and raccoons on his own and was eventually hired by CPW.

He deals with the sneaky raccoons that people hear in the attacks or walls, the smelly skunks that decide to camp out in basements and the beavers that topple trees onto front porches.

Bud comes from a very large family, most of which still live in the area. A majority of the people he traps for he does simply as a favor. “If an old lady or old man calls me up, I’ll go do it for nothing,” said Bud. “I’m also related to a lot of people in Glenwood and Carbondale.”

The price for removing pest animals depends on location, type of animal and number of animals.

Bud gets calls from people who truly believe they have a creature living in their house, which most of the time they really do.

Bud remembers a rare call that came from an older woman who was living alone after her husband had passed away.

“She was petrified,” said Bud. No matter what time of day or what room she was in, everywhere this lady went she heard a mysterious chirp, he said. He checked the house and left traps but after many days found no signs of any animals.

“I crawled out of the basement, heard a chirp and I said ‘ma’am I found your animal,’” he said. Bud got a ladder and placed it underneath the fire alarm and asked if she had any new batteries.

Not all calls end with such luck. When it comes to skunks, if you see one there more than likely are a dozen more, said Bud. He often gets calls from people who claim to have seen one skunk but after further investigation will find at least 15. Once on a skunk call in New Castle Bud ended up finding a total of 27 skunks living in one house.

Dealing with skunks on an almost daily basis, one is bound to eventually get sprayed. In Bud’s case he does what he can to not get sprayed but still it has happened so often he can hardly remember exactly the last time a skunk got him.

Despite being sprayed more times than he can count, Bud seems to have a way with the skunks. It’s almost as if he is a sort of a skunk whisperer. “I just put them in my jeep and haul them around,” Bud said.

Bud sometimes uses household items such as trashcans, brooms and large pieces of cardboard to catch skunks.

“I set the trashcan down, took the cardboard out and ran it catty corner to the skunk, made some noises with a broom and he ran right out and into the trashcan.” Bud said.

He builds his own skunk traps out of PVC piping so the skunks can scurry into the trap but can’t lift their tails to spray.

The traps that Bud uses for raccoons and other animals are called “have a heart” traps; they do not harm the animal in the process of being caught. Bud does humanely euthanize each animal but the fur and pelts do not go to waste. The pelts and furs from the beaver, foxes, coyotes are all used for other things such as hats, shoes, coats, etc.

The animals can’t just simply be released back into the wild due to the fact that they carry disease and relocating them will only spread the disease further. Also if an animal is taken from one person’s yard and relocated, it wouldn’t take long for that animal to be in another house causing an endless cycle of catch and release.

“A lot these animals that people think are beautiful and nice, they carry rabies and distemper,” said Bud “Last year I caught 64 animals that had rabies and distemper.”

The busiest time for raccoons is when they start having babies. Bud gets the most calls when they start getting in attics, sheds, basements and crawl spaces. Raccoons are actually known to tear siding and shingles off of house.

Bud does not trap bears, that is a whole different ball game. CPW is responsible for taking care of problem bears.

Bud is an animal trapper and city worker but beyond that is someone who goes the extra mile to help people without ever asking for any sort of recognition. “He does a lot of things that nobody is even aware of,” said his wife. “He just does it.”

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