The Zoo Beneath My Barn

In my suburban town, amid many new houses, I live in an old farmhouse.  On my property, there is a 100-year-old barn that I use mostly for storage.  Underneath the barn, there is a virtual zoo of wildlife.  I have seen groundhogs, rabbits, feral cats, and raccoons race into holes that go under the barn.   (Well, I didn’t actually see the nocturnal animal, but I did find a large, room-sized drop cloth that a raccoon dragged to a hole and abandoned when the cloth got stuck in the opening.) The presence of animals has become commonplace at my home, and I enjoy watching them, but I do not want the critters to munch my vegetables and flowers.  Consequently, I put out a Havahart trap and catch some of the animals, one by one.

Yesterday, I saw a groundhog sunning itself in front of the barn. When I approached, it ducked into one of the holes.  He is my next target.

To catch the groundhog, I’ll use a trap that cages the animal but does no harm to it.  First, I’ll set the trap with overripe fruit as bait.  Then, as soon as I see the animal enclosed in the trap, I’ll put on my work gloves, throw an old towel over the cage (darkness calms the animal), and carry the cage to my car.  Next, I’ll take the animal to state-owned land and release it in the woods between a river and a canal.  (I think this is illegal, but what else can I do with a groundhog?) As soon as I open the cage, the groundhog will run away, hopefully to dig a new burrow far away from my gardens.

Over the past few years, I have released many groundhogs and one raccoon into the woods.  Otherwise, they climb over my fences to snatch peaches or burrow under fences to get green beans and lettuce.  I let the cats and rabbits be.

Trapping and releasing animals sounds rather rugged to me, but I am simply a suburban woman, trying to protect her garden.  I don’t intend to harm any of the creatures; I simply relocate them to a wilder place to live.  Now…if I could only find a way to relocate the *deer…

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*Note:  If you are interested in reading a related story, please check out my post, “The Deer in My Backyard.”

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