Sunday, July 4, 2010

To Life, Liberty, and the Independence of All

Happy 4th of July! My chickens are free now, more so than they've been in awhile. Finally captured the hungry raccoon that's been stalking and killing several of them this past month.

After living in a wilderness area for more than three years, this has been my first all-out war with predators. Thought I was living a charmed chicken-keepers life. Before moving my chickens in I armed the chicken yard with Nite Guard lights. Apparently, they did their job, as until recently I didn't lose any of my birds.

Well, there was one rooster who was snatched by an owl, but I solved that immediately by putting a couple of the lights on top of fence posts . . . duh, no more problems. Still miss the rooster.

Raccoons look cute, endearing, and so innocent, as you likely know if you have chickens, but they are smart, capable, and patient at getting what they want. I love all animals, but I was almost ready to shoot this particular one. Instead, I bought one of those HAVAHART traps, set it, then waited. And waited, and then, you know . . . waited . . . some more.

Finally, yesterday morning I went outside, and there he was . . . peering intently through the wire enclosure at me. If I hadn't seen the evidence with my own eyes, probably would have freed him immediately. Turns out, the little bandit was more attracted to dry cat food than the canned tuna I'd been using to entice him into the trap. Glad I keep my cat inside!

As soon as my chores were done, I put him in the back of my pickup and went for a long drive, past the wilderness parks, over multiple bridges, down narrow winding logging roads, and well into the dense forest. Every once in awhile, I'd glance back at him. He seemed to be playing hide'n'seek, covering one eye and peeking playfully out at me.

Eventually,I stopped, brought the trap to the ground and quickly lifted its door while backing away at almost the same instant (hey, it was my first time - was a little afraid he'd attack me). He was gone in a flash. By now, he's no doubt happily exploring his new habitat . . . forty miles away from my chickens.

Wow! What a great weight off my shoulders! And my chickens can get back to their normal routine.

If you're having problems with raccoons, first of all, you have both my sympathy and empathy. I have learned that the traps do work, so I can recommend them, but I'd understand if you prefer the more immediate method of assassination (all the experts point to just the two solutions). And, certainly, shooting the little rascal would have been a lot less expensive and time consuming.

I'm curious about how you have -or would have- handled the situation. Do you think I behaved like a coward, an extremist animal rights activist (please, no!), or did I do the right thing?

Did I mention that I enjoyed the ride, anyway? Guess that means it wasn't entirely a waste of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment