Varmits - aaarrrggghhh !

zigzagMarch 8, 2007

Got word last weekend from next door neighbor that a huge raccoon has been visiting one of my bird feeders. (Guess that explains why I've twice now found a heavy Yankee Flipper feeder on the ground - I was sooo clueless!)

Freaked her out as she has a small dog, and doubly freaked me out too since I have a squirrel sized new puppy now in residence! Neither of us just let the dogs out unsupervised, but 'coons can get pretty nasty and dogs love to ferret them out. I go out with my little squirrel-size beagle at all hours of the night and don't wish to run into Randy Raccoon!

We're in a small subdivision and have tightly fenced backyards flanked by a common retaining back wall - timber, varying from 10' to 3' in height and about three feet back from that is a 6' stockade fence that separates us from the farm behind. My part of the stretch is the step-down section and height varies from 9' at one end to 4' at the other. My step down part lends itself to great landscaping, but the whole wall provides too easy access for critters. Actually, the whole stretch of retaining wall and protective fencing (running behind eight or nine homes) is an ideal 'critter highway' and I've been concerned before.

Not expecting much of anything, I called Raleigh Animal Control and - wow! - (my tax dollars at work!) an Officer came out last night and placed a trap, gave me instructions and when we corral the varmit, they'll come retrieve it. Now, I can just hope that the can of Alpo is more attractive than the Yankee Flipper full of black oil sunflower seed and that we cage the 'coon!

So, I'm kinda re-thinking plans for summer gardening, maybe might forego some veggies for flowers in my EarthBoxes this year ..... don't want to encourage any more varmits, raccoons or possums (have had them up close and personal in the past). My EarthBoxes are in the side yard and I've had lots of 'bites' in tomatoes, just never knew who was munching. Don't want to encourage any varmits this year. I have a puppy to keep safe and raise !

Knowng that there is no 'solution' for critters (raccoons and possums), any shards of advise will be greatly appreciated by me and my weenie beagle !

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We get the occasional raccoon in our neighborhood. After my neighbor yelling at them and throwing sticks they left. Of course, I'd leave too if you did that to me :). Then again, he's the same one who would've burned his house down over a garter snake if I hadn't saved it.

The possums like to visit the buffet in our garage (cat food). They're funny creatures who'd rather run than confront a human.

You do realize animal control will most likely kill the raccoon? I volunteered with ac and that's typical procedure.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 7:50AM
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aisgecko(7b Raleigh)

We have a pet door and keep the catfood in the room with it. We noticed it was being eaten very quickly and thought neighborhood cats were coming in (which we've had them do) but one night in came a raccoon. We chased it off and started putting the food away at night and he hasn't returned. The room is usually closed off from the rest of the house in the winter so there wasn't much chance of him actually coming in while we slept, but it's still a little creepy.
Heather that's sad that they kill them! I wouldn't want to mess with one, knowing they can be mean, but I still think they are kind of neat. Guess I won't be calling animal control unless I see a rabid one :( -Ais.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 8:37AM
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Since we live in the (rapidly disappearing) country, we have all sorts of critters around. None have ever bothered my little dogs. The only ones we've had trouble with are the deer and the voles. And the deer only because there are just too many of them lately. I think all the Cary development going on a couple of miles away has pushed them all over here. Have I mentioned before how much I dislike Cary? Anyway, a couple of months ago, my husband was clearing some brush out in the woods and a 'possum climbed down from a tree just a few feet away, did his, um, business and climbed back up the tree. Paid no attention at all to the human standing there. We also had an apparently drunk one a few years ago. Called AC because we thought it might be rabid. They said it had probably eaten some fermented fruit or something and that 'possums don't get rabies. I like having most of the wild animals around and hate to see so much development destroy their habitat.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:48AM
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You know how people claim that chihuahua's are simply Great Dane's confined inside a tiny dog suit - well I believe that raccoons are grizzly bears who's clothes have shrunk. Here in Garner-America, 'coons and 'possums ain't much of a problem (nor are deer), and I don't know why. There are plenty of easy access points and no perimeter fence and there's even a creek running along the back border. Sometimes I hear them and sometimes the dog kills one but for the most part they leave me and my yard alone. The dog is an efficient hunter but she's a housepet and not allowed to run amok outside unsupervised.

Back when I lived primitively in a cabin in the woods they both caused lots of problems and had to be dealt with in severe ways - something I'm not particularily proud of, but it came down to "you touch my chickens and you die". I don't believe in guns so I had to get real good with hand tool or 2by4 real quick. I also rescued plenty of cats, so I had bowls of cat food sitting inside the cabin and all sorts of wild beast would sneak in at night and wake me up with their dining habits (did you know that wild life chew with their mouths open? how rude!). I always knew that when I awoke to find the cats all sitting far across the room on top of the bookcase - the warm fuzzy feeling snoring beside on the bed wasn't supposed to be there. Opposums were the hardest to convince that "outside" was where they really belonged. I made these funny little rules, like: I will shoo you outside 16 times in a row but on the 17th time I will knock you in the head... as if the creature had a clue to the details of my plan. Silly silly me.

And in the not so distant past I raised small cage birds as a hobby. Once the raccoons learned how to climb up on the cages it became a nightly ritual to go outside and knock them in the head with one of those extra large maglight flashlights. Those guys would sit there all night and eventually catch a bird through the wire with only one claw and then slowly pull it bit by bit through the cagewall to eat it - way gross. I became a "show no mercy" raccoon and opossum killing machine.

All of this brings howls of laughter to my wheat farming father and aunts and uncles who remember me as the little boy that adopted orhaned wildlife. They all have framed pictures of me holding fury little balls of fluff in one hand and baby bottle in the other. My stories today bring plenty of "my how things have changed" comments.

Normally I advise people with raccoon problems to very aware that these animals are smart and fearless and that nothing is more dangerous than a mama coon with her young in tow - but one time while visiting a friend in Tulsa who also raised cage birds and chickens we stepped out back late one afternoon to spy a large raccoon with three or four babies coming over the chest high stockade fence. She owned a lot of dogs so while we were trying to move dogs into the safety of the house her smooth coat fox terrier saw the problem and solved it in about 10 minutes. That dog jumped and pulled each animal off the top of the fence and bit down hard and shook them hard enough to snap their necks. My friend and I stood there with our jaws agape - the whole thing was over in a flash and there wasn't a spek of blood or damage to the dog. Some dogs are very efficient at killing small animals - even if they are just grizzly bears cramped into fur coats a couple of sizes too small.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 9:57AM
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I'm in Lee County and now we're getting reports of coyotes. I saw one about 6 months ago dart across the street but thought I was seeing things. They will pick off small dogs and cats.

Only one possum has been thick headed enough to enter my back yard. One night we let the dogs out to potty and heard this huge commotion. After shooing the dogs in I found a "dead" possum. I walked a few steps away to get a shovel and when I turned around it was about 3' farther away than before but still "dead". Duh! I totally forgot possums play dead and I couldn't figure out how it kept moving. My dh thought this was hilarious.

Of course, my three dogs weigh between 50-70 lbs. and if I left them outside they'd kill any critter that dared to enter their yard.

I guess we're technically encroaching on natures territory.


    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 10:30AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Possums absolutely DO get rabies. Though it has been relatively rare in the past, occurrences are increasing.

Any warm blooded animal can get rabies.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 11:34AM
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Great notes here - thanks, everybody! I especially agree w/TriangleJohn's 'grizzly in shrunken clothes' description - they are very bold, and while I haven't seen this one personally, neighbor reports he is a real 40 pounder and all their efforts to 'scare' him away - noise, light and projectiles heaved - have been in vain. He remains unruffled, dining on the bird feeder, from a comfy perch atop our common fence.

Truly, I am not anti-wildlife, but am very pro-family pet protection. My pup takes precedence over any displaced varmit. As for rabies, both possums and raccoons can be carriers and those viruses, among others, can be shed in the backyard environment - not a good thing for a baby pup to be playing in! All the more reason for me to keep this varmit out of my secured backyard.

In years past, with my RIP Ziggy beaglette, I've battled mostly possums. Their bold presence (My 'garden elves' are here today doing the spring wake-up/re-mulch/trim and in deference to the baby beagle, are doing a bit more aggressive trimming for me, so I can better scan the yard for varmits at night.

Meanwhile, no luck w/the trap last two nights - AC asked that I close it over the weekend and re-set it Sunday night to accommodate their abbreviated weekend staffing.

I'll keep y'all posted!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 1:44PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Zigzag, you, and animal control, might have better luck on Mon. if you shut down the trapping as far as setting the trap goes, but keep it baited with the intention of habituating the beast to the trap, and to the idea that the trap is a good place to go to for food. That way, you might have better luck actally catching the 'coon come Mon. AM. As I recall the trap, not having looked at one for a few years, you can leave it open and baited without actually setting the "trap" closure.

On that note, don't forget that the time will change come Sun. AM!!! DST's early this year....

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:18PM
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Thanks, dibbit - good point. The trap is now closed w/the bait (a can of cat food) within, but I'll go check if I can leave it open to encourage something of a false sense of security for the varmit over the weekend. I have no problem w/contributing a couple more cans to the cause!

As an aside, I actually fully expected to have trapped a cat or two by now. There are a couple who regularly stalk my bird feeders - and they are very big cats - but I have twice watched one walk right by the open, baited trap. Guess it wasn't hungry enough.

While my goal is not to trap cats for AC to pick up, I will admit to taking exception to people's "outdoor" cats on the loose. City 'leash laws' apply to both dogs and cats - those who set their cats loose to prey on birds and dig up flower beds get no points w/me.

I live in one of those North Raleigh areas that has exploded with housing density over the past few years, and have mourned every clear cut tree they've murdered, but ..... .... all I can do is try to make my little plot of dirt a safe haven for all critters I wish to have afoot.

And, losing an hour of sleep = bad ..... gaining more daylight = good, great, the best ! An early welcome to DST!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 3:57PM
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Am so discouraged - trap has been operative now for seven nights and all we've caught is one dumb cat! Raccoon hasn't been sighted, but I'm hard pressed to believe he moved on of his own volition. Am going to leave it set over the weekend - maybe he's waiting for AC to be short staffed!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 3:59PM
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speaking of wildlife - I quit feeding the squirrels when the rattle snakes started showing up on the screened porch and deck.... too cclose for comfort. Also have had sightings of coyotes and wildcats (pumas and panthers!!) in the area...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 7:56AM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Zigzag, if you've only caught cat(s) with the can of catfood, then maybe it would be a good idea to change the bait. Since they were coming after the bird feeders, maybe sunflower seeds would work? Or try peanuts, peanut butter, fruits, other nuts, fish of some kind, etc., etc.? I don't know exactly what 'coons eat in the wild, except that they are pretty much omniverous, so almost anything could be enticing. I don't think they eat carrion, so fresh might be better than not.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 10:53AM
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Well, somebody was waiting for AC to be short-staffed - have a very contrite looking 'possum in there today! AC will come and get him, and they didn't even yell at me for not closing the trap last night!

Change of menu is a good idea, dibbit - I have half a jar of the recalled Peter Pan peanut butter so will make good use of it (obviously, it's not contaminated since I'd already used half of it before the newsflashes) - a nice P B & S (sunflower seeds) ball might just do the trick! The original bait was a can of Alpo (dog food) and we had added the can of cat food. When AC picked up the cat last week, it has just sampled the cat food and then, apparently, freaked out and didn't eat any more.

Pagan - rattlers, coyotes & wildcats ?? Yipes !! Be careful !

    Bookmark   March 17, 2007 at 12:26PM
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This is almost fun ! AC came by Sat a.m., a nice 'good ole guy' type this time. He reached in, grabbed the possum by the tail and carried it (at arms' length!) to the truck keeping up a running conversation w/me all the while! Told me not to bother closing the trap, he'd come by anytime. Alas, nothing this morning.

So, score to date: 1 cat, 1 possum, 0 raccoon !

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 5:05PM
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Zigzag- our racoom liked hotdogs and cigarettes. She used to pilfer in my mom's pocketbook for them. My mom had her license to rehabilitate injured wildlife and we had the opportunity to raise "Tiffany" from baby to adulthood. As she grew up she was encouraged to follow her instincts to be outside. Eventually, she moved herself to the barn and then to the river. She would bring her little ones to visit but she was the only one who would come near us. We never forgot she was a wild animal and should be treated with respect and caution. Perhaps you could also leave a bowl of water so it can wash paws. Good luck, Shannon/Dirtrx

    Bookmark   March 18, 2007 at 7:38PM
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Score now : 1 cat, 2 possums. AC picked up the second possum yesterday, this officer wasn't as bold as last weeks' - he used the snare to remove the critter from the trap.

Little mystery this morning - the trap is sprung, empty and has been dragged more than 20 feet along the top of the retaining wall! It now rests half way across my neighbors' yard! This is getting verrrry interesting ....

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 9:54AM
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Traps aren't perfect. Sometimes the animal knows better than to step inside so they try to get the bait from the outside which will set off the mechanism. Sometimes the door catches their leg or foot and they end up dragging it a ways before they free themselves.

When I was a kid I used to race down to the chicken house to rescue an old opposum before breakfast. I always knew when he was there because as I came into the kitchen for food I would hear my father rummage around for the bullets for his rifle cussing about it all. I also knew the old 'possum would be asleep in the hen's nest, nice and snug and sound asleep. I used to race in and grab him by the tail and sling him out the door as far as I could before he woke up and bit me - just to get him out of dad's sight and into safety.

I never got bit but I did get hissed out. I've heard that opposums have more teeth than any other North American animal and I believe it. They don't seem to know how to bite down real hard - most of my chicken recovered from opposum attacks (unlike raccoon interactions).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2007 at 4:41PM
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Thanks, Trianglejohn, your explanation of the trap migration makes perfect sense. Still haven't trapped the major target - Randy Raccoon, the Enormous - but since last post have caged a small raccoon, Ricky, and yet another possum. This possum was reeaalllyy big and the AC person had quite a time getting him out of the trap. So, I got to see, up close and personal, the claws and teeth. Well, they may be pretty docile, but possums sure have the equipment to do some serious damage!

At this rate, I expect to have made the acquaintance of each and every Raleigh AC officer by the time Randy is caught. So far, every time I've called for a pick-up, it's been a different officer. They are all great and I have enormous respect for them and a heartfelt appreciation of my tax dollars at work!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:49PM
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Amazingly, this saga continues - took me eons to find this thread, it was so far back!

Randy Raccoon The Enormous has yet to be captured, but a couple of his little cousins have. The trap has once again been dragged 25' or more w/no captured quarry. At one point, I even found a bird trapped in it, but no varmits!

I'm taking down the big bird feeders (w/black oil sunflower seed) at night - Randy Raccoon The Enormous has almost destroyed one Yankee Flipper (not easy, they're pretty substantial!) and he has carved a cave in the akebia vine ..... in other words, he's really, really annoying me! He's also dug up a flower bed or two - payback for my taking in his sunflower seed feeders, I suspect. Grrrrr .....

Said Enormous Raccoon makes me really nervous what with my teeny beagle ....... maybe it's time I borrowed a rottweiler for a week or so of night shifts - hmmmmm, now that's a thought ......

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 5:14PM
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Well, the bears in the moutains crushed my battery operated anti-squirrel feeder..guess that shock just aggravated them too much.The racoons ALWAYS find a way to access any feeder that we have tried to use. Now we do not attempt to feed the birds, which is sad...loved seeing them so close to the house. In the Piedmont I plant the cheap hostas as decoys so that the deer and rabbit do not eat other plants which I like better than hostas. It works, but it looks really strange to see a stand of bare stems!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 9:31PM
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mad_about_mickey(**7* *N.C.)

We live near Clayton and used to have a nightly visit of 3 huge 'coons. They were always on the 'squirrel-proof' (Ha!)feeder- you know the one, metal squarish and the feed tray closes by the weight of the squirrel-~- hubby got a bit upset with them so he used a metal glue and 'bonded' thumbtacks all over the cover/roof of this feeder and let it cure really well. All proud of himself, he hangs it back on the pine tree and explains that they won't be able to sit there and reach down to empty it. Ok, cue darkness and see raccoon holding onto tree and shoving with his one back foot as hard as he can to dislodge those 'bonded' tacks ! durn if he didn't get enuf of then off to be able to eat like always! hubby -0- , coons winning !! Feeder is now empty and I haven't filled it in a while. We had also put more lights on back of house. You can see like it is daylight out there. That doesn't seem to deter them either.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 3:49PM
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Wow! Lots of critter problems out there!

I don't know if my little trick will work with possums and coons, but it certainly keeps squirrels out of my flower and veggie gardens.

Someone told me to put out some pieces of Ex-lax, the chocolate flavored laxative, so I gave it a try. We have sqirrels living in oak trees in our front and back yards. They used to eat my iris bulbs and pick my tulips when they were in bloom.

After I put out the Ex-lax, they left everything alone even though they still go up and down the trees without even disturbing the impatiens growing at the base.

I guess the little 'skirls' had plenty of time in the squirrel bathroom to think about what they had done! Now they jump over our fence and eat peaches and tomatoes from the neighbor's yard!

We have been using the Ex-lax for 3 years now and have not had any squirrel damage to any part of our gardens. It is getting harder and harder to find Ex-lax, so stock up on it if you find it!

It also keeps the neighbors' dogs out of my flowers next to the mailbox.

Billie in SC

    Bookmark   May 28, 2007 at 6:35PM
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This thread is hilarious. Our problem is moles or voles, so we are going to try slightly chewed Juicy Fruit gum. The results are said to be more permanent than the Ex-Lax is to the squirrels. We just started feeding the birds, and therefore the squirrels. We have squirrel-difficult feeders, but they still get some seeds. We tried putting some seeds and raw peanuts out for the squirrels, but what this did was bring all the squirrels from the neighborhood to our yard for the handout, and the regular squirrels got to work burying everything they could get their paws on. I hate to see them combing the ground around my precious impatiens! If my kitchen window could open I probably would have been trying out my skills with the BB gun! Having 20 squirrels in one little yard is an infestation!

I do not cry when one of my Siberians catches a squirrel or mole in the back yard. I really like fox terriers, especially the wirehairs.

My BIL has Jack Russells, and they are awsome on any rats that have shown up in his yard in Wilmington.

I have heard it is possible to teach terriers even to dig up and kill slugs!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2007 at 3:43PM
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tooslim name it, we have had it in our yard. And we live in the city. Deer, racoons, squirrels, fox, possums (watch the grease drip tray on your grill, they LOVE that)...My husband loves to feed birds, and I am a tender hearted animal lover but I am losing patience over the chipmunks! Yes, they are cute like Chip & Dale, but I now have more holes than a golf course. But the worst are the rabbits, I wouldn't mind if they nibbled/trimmed my plants, but eating down to the NUB is just rude!! Any advice for chipmunk erradication??? My FIL says he will bring his 22 but I have not reached the bloodthirsty stage... yet

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 11:41AM
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For the rabbits and chippers, try Bounce sheets at the bases of the plants. They are trying this on another board I visit, with some success.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 4:29PM
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laurabs, glad you're amused, it is a fun topic (in a warped sort of way!). No voles or moles here - no grass - and I've yet to see a chipmunk 'tho I know all can be very pesky. I have squirrels in abundance and can deal w/them - it's the raccoon & possum varmits that keep me on the hunt! It is rabies season and I, personally, believe that the virus can be shed in the environment versus only direct contact, so am aspiring to keep my little courtyard as clean as possible to keep my little beagle safe from harm!

AC took away my trap - they have bigger fish to fry in light of the season - but did tell me that if I buy my own trap, they will come out and empty it whenever I get a varmit. Now, that's worth thinking about!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2007 at 10:12AM
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Blast from the past here - went on a search and unearthed my very own thread of old! Kinda fun reading!

Mid afternoon yesterday I let puppy out in the yard and immediately realized she was not alone! Being paranoid about coons & possums (especially during the day), I yanked the pup back inside.

My backyard is more of a courtyard - small and tightly fenced - so visitors are rare. This critter was rattled, but not aggressive and obviously disoriented. Minus the beagle threat, he peeked out from behind some stones where he'd taken refuge ..... what a cutie! Of course my camera batteries were dead, so I just watched, trying to figure out what he was. After he determined the coast to be clear, he made a slow run for the timber retaining wall and awkwardly scrambled his way out. I still had no clue who/what he was.

Definitely not a coon or possum ..... pretty little face, stout body, stubby legs and a short furry tail. Hmmmm ..... I called Animal Control for ID help and we figured out I'd had a very lost woodchuck (groundhog, prairie dog) as a temporary guest!

I know woodchucks well - having grown up on a dairy farm - and there's a working farm right behind me ..... just had never had one venture into the yard before.

It kinda made my day. I'm so easily amused :o)

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 8:28PM
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Can't believe I'm bringing this thread up yet again (such a good GWC search engine!), but the critters just keep popping up and I, for one, enjoy reading this thread over and over (ok, so it's a sign of senility - ok, I get it!).

The tiny puppy I had when first I started this thread is now two and a half years old, but still tiny - (she's a line-bred sport beagle and all of 10 and a half pounds) - so I'm still freaked out by coons and possums w/sharp claws & teeth in my tightly fenced yard.

Pup is now trustworthy enough to have her own dog door out into the back yard (I still casually monitor her wanderings), but now I'm back to playing warden - turning on the spotlights and reconning the area before she goes out. Because ..... just this week, we've had two close encounters w/juvenile possums - beagle is good to go (i.e. fearless), but I'm freaked!

Tonight I determined that critters are taking up residence (or at least hiding from the beagle) in the underground drainage pipe network that runs beneath my backyard. There are four entrys - three of which are accessible for me to block w/hardware cloth type netting. Seems like what I've got to do is going to be late at night, blast the pipes w/water to clear whatever and then critter block them off.

Anybody have any other ideas?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2009 at 11:59PM
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Great Thread zigzag. We live in downtown Hillsborough and all the wildlife of Orange County moved in to town when we did.
I have been trying to trap wood chucks for weeks. They set off the trap but no go. The neighbor across the street trapped two foxes (wanting to trap wood chucks). Wood chucks can be destructive to a house.
We also have possums, raccoons and deer (with the occasional
copperhead). We have three corgis and I worry about the snakes more than the other pests.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 4:27AM
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jimtnc(7b Raleigh tttf)

I was sitting on my porch one Sunday afternoon (no telling what I'm gonna see next) and I look towards the woods and here comes a 'coon just like he owned the dadgum place. Got a couple of big branches to toss at him to shoo him away. Yeah!! Right!! He was about as afraid of me as my dog. Just stood there a looked at me like I was nuts. I didn't get too close though, cause they can get mean. It finally turned and walked back into the woods.

Two weeks ago I'm sitting on the porch again reading, and look up to see a doe and her fawn chowing down on another one of my salad buffet shrubs. Dam that made me mad. Jumped up and ran at them shouting like a wild man and they didn't even move until I got about 8-9' from them...then they could move, up, up, and away. Those deer are some kinda hungry and I guess there losing their food sources with the woods being cleared. Rabbits already go the Hostas in the front planter. Nice of them to prune those ugly ol' Hostas.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 12:25PM
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Claire Pickett

Heather (I'm Claire from Lee County CARA back in the day) ...I have a 3-legged dog who I am almost sure was attacked by a coyote. One was found dead in the road near animal control around the same time. I live a mile from there.

Also, that dog's sister, was attacked in the chest cavity within a couple of months of the "amputation." I think it was the same coyote. She almost died...lots of bill at Cary Specialty hospital.

I have no animosity toward this animal, nor toward the deer I ward off with Liquid Fence. If we can't get along with animals, there is little hope for getting along with humans. Animals are so much more moral.

claire in sanford

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 6:06PM
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