Monday, September 26th, 2011...7:51 am

Dealing with Animals in the Garden

Fox searching – 6 by iglooo101

Living in nature is beautiful, but it can seem so defeating. TheGardenLady has written columns about how she lives and has to practice good wildlife management to enable her garden to grow successfully. All the animals want to enjoy her garden to the extent that if allowed, there would be no garden.

Every gardener has this problem. If it is not deer, then it is rabbits or squirrels or…. you name it. One friend was happy when foxes moved into the culvert near the front of her driveway. She never saw a deer or rabbit on her property after that. But one can’t allow foxes to live on your property for a variety of reasons, so she had to have them removed. So far I haven’t seen foxes living on my property, but I have seen opposums, raccoons, woodchucks and at night, coming home sometimes I have smelled skunks. Those animals are all living harmoniously together, I hope, with Bambi and all his relatives as well as the numerous squirrels that live in my black walnut trees or hickory nut trees all inherited with the house when I bought it.

chipmunk by Dawn Huczek

But at least, I told myself, I didn’t have chipmunks on my property. As cute as chipmunks are they can cause a lot of serious problems including coming indoors where they can do damage. I knew that there were chipmunks in my county because I had seen one at the big hardware store about 5 miles away. There a little chipmunk was being fed by one of the cashiers who thought it was “sooo cute.” But I hadn’t seen chipmunks in my town or on my property until I looked out this morning. I saw my first chipmunk scurrying across my deck. And where there is one, I know there are many.

I had gotten rid of mole tunnels. I have been covering up woodchuck holes when found in areas where I walk. (I have a fat resident woodchuck who lives on the hill behind my house. I think it is a male woodchuck because I only see what seems to be one woodchuck. And when the small animal control man offered to remove him, I asked if others wouldn’t move in when his burrow was vacated. He said, “probably that would happen.” When I asked why I seemed to see only one wookdchuck, he said that the male is solitary. If this is the case, I preferred having one male to having a female with her yearly broods living on my property. If I got rid of my male and a female found his lovely vacated burrow, I would be in serious trouble. Better to live with the devil you know, I reasoned. But now I assume that I will be finding chipmunk holes. And chipmunks are not such an easy pest to get rid of. A good website that discusses all wildlife damage control is this.

Hope that you have hawks or owls in your neighborhood. They are wonderful predators of rodents. They say that a hawk or owl decoy is also effective. But the animals that live on my property seem smarter than to be fooled by decoys. Since I want to get some more sculpture for my yard. I will get some decoys as sculpture to place in the yard in case any stupid rodents move in to live with the highly intelligent ones that I find living with me.

I hope some foxes decide to move into the woods on my property. Perhaps I could entice the one that seems to wander around my area. Foxes do a good job of getting rid of varmints. Stores sell fox urine that is supposed to deter chipmunks.

One recommendation for getting rid of chipmunks is getting dogs. Just remember not all dogs are created equal when needed to do the job of chasing animals. My last dog was a bassett hound. This was a big male bassett who was in love with me. So much in love that he had eyes for no one or nothing else. If he saw a squirrel, so what? The same with deer. He would turn away to just admire me. Very flattering and endearing, but not a protector. When I was a child I had a St. Bernard. We loved to walk together. When we went to the fields she would sniff and dig up field mice in their nests. The field mice would run out of its nest and hide under the St. Bernard near her back leg. The dog looked around seeming to say, “duh, where did that rascul go?” I would laugh to see the dog all flummoxed, looking everywhere to see where the mouse had run- but never noticing the mouse shaking in fear under her. So if you get a dog for the purpose of chasing wildlife, look for a dog with hunting skills. But be careful if you live near a road or the dog may be so intent on the hunt, it might not see a car coming.

Cats might also be effective in getting rid of rodents, but unless you have a cat that lives outdoors, a feral cat, I would be wary of using a pet cat for this purpose. Pet cats can get sick outdoors and if they are well fed, they are often not interested in going after prey. As a child on the farm, we had outdoor cats for the job of getting rid of rodents. They lived in the barn for this work.

Traps seem to be the most effective method of getting rid of chipmunks and other rodents. Havahart traps seem to be the most humane traps.  See here.  But if one releases the chipmunks away from your property, then you will be giving someone else the chipmunk headache.

There are a few repellents on the market that seem to be effective against chipmunks. If they are organic, that is the route I will try with chipmunks.  See here.  I want to spray around the base of my house so that they don’t burrow down to cause problems around the foundation.





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