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Next Warrior Flyby
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Who ya gonna call? Pest Busters!

A bat flies low to the ground on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 27, 2015. Bats are one of the creatures found on base primarily during summer. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A bat flies low to the ground on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Aug. 27, 2015. Bats are one of the creatures found on base primarily during summer. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A raccoon sits in a cage at the Prairie Ridge Golf Course outside of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Sept. 28, 2015. Raccoons are a common creature found at Ellsworth throughout the year. Once they have been caught, they are released back on base into the wild. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A raccoon sits in a cage at the Prairie Ridge Golf Course outside of Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Sept. 28, 2015. Raccoons are a common creature found at Ellsworth throughout the year. Once they have been caught, they are released back on base into the wild. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A swift fox sits in a cage on the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 23, 2016. Swift foxes are on a threatened species list and, when found, are released into the wild on base to help keep the base rodent and bird population low. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A swift fox sits in a cage on the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 23, 2016. Swift foxes are on a threatened species list and, when found, are released into the wild on base to help keep the base rodent and bird population low. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A red fox sits in a cage on the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 3, 2016. Red foxes are common creatures found on base throughout the year. Once caught, the animal is released into the wild to help keep the base rodent and bird population low. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

A red fox sits in a cage on the flightline at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., March 3, 2016. Red foxes are common creatures found on base throughout the year. Once caught, the animal is released into the wild to help keep the base rodent and bird population low. To report a pest problem, call the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management office at (605) 385-2521. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz/Released)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- The health and wellness of our Airmen and the success of our B-1 bomber mission relies on Ellsworth's pests to be handled safely and humanely.

Luckily, there's one agency on base to call - the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management flight.
The flight ensures Airmen are protected from the dangers of wild animals and insects.

"We are basically here to keep everyone from getting sick with diseases," said Ken Grimes, 28th CES pest management foreman since 2007. "Without the pest management flight, personnel would be in public health [with illnesses or injuries] and they would not be able to do their job."

The flight is in charge of managing the pests in dormitories, work buildings and on the flightline where our B-1 bombers take off to provide combat airpower, anytime, anywhere.

Airman 1st Class Melissa Waszkiewicz, 28th CES pest management journeyman, explains it is important to keep animals off the flightline because anything as small as a bird could potentially take down a B-1, which can cause thousands of dollars in damages.

While the flightline is a high priority, Airmen matter just as much when it comes to keeping them safe.

"I have been sprayed by a skunk before and it's terrible," Waszkiewicz said laughing. "That's an example why it's dangerous to try to catch anything without the proper gear and training, and we know how to properly secure and remove [animals]."

The process for catching wild animals starts with a survey from the requestor, stating what and where they saw it, and then pest management personnel go and confirm if there is a pest problem.

After confirmation, they begin planning how to solve and manage reoccurring nuisances, like rats, by laying down traps or poison to help alleviate the issue. After the animals are caught, they retrieve the traps.

Other situations, such as discovering a wasps' nest, are simple processes where the flight goes in with a chemical spray to kill existing insects and remove nests.

Insects and mice are disposed of, but that is not the situation for every pest on base.

Ellsworth is home to the swift fox, which has recently been placed on the threatened species list. Whenever the flight comes across a fox caught in one of their traps, it is procedure to release them back into the wild on base.

Other common animals involved on the base are red foxes, bats, deer, skunks and raccoons, who also share the same fate of being relocated on the base once they have been secured.

"We like to release [the animals] because they actually help with keeping mice and other pests away from buildings," Waszkiewicz said.

Waszkiewicz adds many problems occur because people leave food everywhere, and that sanitizing offices help eradicate small bugs and mice.

Waszkiewicz said some may think the pests they come across may be cute to play with, but it puts some Airmen in danger when they come into contact with them. That is why the mission of the pest management flight is to always be prepared to handle any vermin that come their way.

To report a problem, call the 28th CES pest management office at (605) 385-2521.