Sunday, June 08, 2008

Here a rabbit...there a groundhog - garden pests dealt with severely by gardeners

Gardeners as a rule are a protective lot, especially when it comes to the fruit of their labor so to speak. There are some who sow crops of carrots, lettuce, cukes, tomatoes etc. in their backyard suburban garden, anticipating a fresh salad al fresco. However, not only do humans enjoy freshly picked veggies - so do all the local wildlife and therein lies the problem. It's a case of the humans versus the wildlife with a not-so-happy end result in some cases.

Take the article in the New York Times
with some gardeners finding a solution by taking things into their own hands. There are those who take more drastic measures using guns and other weapons to solve the problem. Here is the opening of the story:

THE homeowner, a city-boy artist and illustrator who had moved to rural Pennsylvania, never wanted to kill the woodchucks. Sure, they were ruining the garden and digging up the foundations of outbuildings, but it was a moral issue: the artist, who is still so uncomfortable about what transpired — and so concerned about how his New York clients would feel about it that he is not willing to be identified — did not want to take a life.

"I posted a sign in the backyard (positioned close to ground level) with a recipe for rabbit pie. I think the bunnies got the message."CE, Plano, TX

Given the size of the property — a 12-acre former horse farm — fencing was out of the question. He bought a Havahart live animal trap but did not catch a thing. And he worried that releasing woodchucks down the road would only be dumping the problem on a neighbor. So he moved on to that tried-and-true landlord’s tactic: harassment. He attached a hose to the exhaust pipe of his old pickup truck and stuffed it into a burrow — not to kill the woodchucks, just to encourage them to move on. That didn’t work, either.
Finally, the artist decided he would have to shoot the animals. First, though, he went to each hole and made an announcement.

“I said: ‘I intend to kill you. You have 24 hours to get out,’ ” he recalls. “I wanted to give them fair warning. I said, ‘If I were you, I would find another place to live.’ I also promised them I would not take a shot unless I knew it would be fatal.”

He is making this into a funny story, he says, but when he killed his first woodchuck he “literally felt sick.”
“I went outside and knelt down to it and said a little prayer to whatever the powers that be that when my turn comes, I will do it as gracefully and uncomplainingly.”
Eventually, though, he embraced his mission, and grew so obsessed with it that an aunt began to call him Woodchuck Johnny. How many did he kill that summer?

“I stopped at 19,” he says. “One was a suicide. It realized its days were numbered and ran in front of a car.”

There are a lot more stories about how plain ordinary, "normal" gardeners like you or me, handled the situation. As an aside 325 gardeners , some who agree with garden guerilla tactics and many others shocked, who let their feelings be known with e-letters to the editor of the New York Times.

Read the entire story and decide for yourself.

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