Spring has sprung across the nation or is about to in your neighborhood. You may be winding down your fur take for winter, but that doesn’t mean you are finished with varmint chores. Spring signifies another period when varmints and nuisance furbearers can create headaches for urban and rural homeowners alike.
Spring may suggest that green grass and warmer temperatures will be the norm, but in reality spring is a transition month. Snow is melting, temperatures are ticking up and you’ll likely see a hint of green across the landscape. Nevertheless, snow, rain, freezing temperatures and other weather extremes have the ability to roar in like a locomotive. Add in that food sources, both vegetative and protein based, are at their lowest levels of the year. This means animals like raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes and others, could be invading your territory to scrape together a meal before the big green up. If you live in bear country the damage can be greater. Both black and grizzly bears emerge from winter hibernation with a rumbly tummy. They immediately go on the hunt for food in one of the leanest periods of the year. If your garbage is unsecured or you have a livestock landfill for unlucky bovine, you might run into a bear with an empty-stomach attitude.
How do you deal with nuisance wildlife? First, secure anything that could possibly be considered food. Even if you keep your pet food in a shed or barn, it’s wise to store it in a sealed container like a Rubbermaid tote. Our cat food and horse feed is under constant attack by raccoons, skunks and feral cats. By keeping it locked in containers the visits are brief at best. The same is true of your garbage. Sure it stinks, but if you have an out building it would be a better place to keep your garbage cans as opposed to street side. Dogs, cats, raccoons, bears and the likes all have the nimbleness to scale a garbage can or knock it over.
So what if your best efforts still can’t contain the varmint raids? It’s time to either call a professional or take matters into your own hands. If you are dealing with a crafty critter that may be a large predator like a bear, call your state game and fish department. Animals like this are managed by seasons and if you shoot one out of season you may be fined. For other animals, again confer with local or state animal damage control officials. They can give you hints on how to deal with specific concerns and may even loan you the tools and traps to get the job done.
A cheap solution is a live trap. You can purchase live traps of varying size at most hardware stores or from reliable trap stores. Bait is simple. Use whatever the nuisance animal is trying to get at or sweeten the deal. Tuna in oil, cat food, fruit and other tempting treats can sucker in even the cagiest of animals. Be sure to set you trap so you get the animal in the first attempt. If they spring the trap and you miss don’t expect another try.
Lastly, it may be time to pull out the big guns. My brother sat up one night and waited for a bark-stripping porcupine to come out from under an abandoned house. It did and with one shot it was done. If you have an electronic caller you can call in local raccoons. Check the legality, but wait until after dark and use either raccoons fighting or raccoons-in-peril call. Raccoons swarm to these calls and your spotlight may have more targets than your shooting iron holds.
Spring is the end of the prime fur season, but you still may have to engage in some fur taking when pests invade your homeland.