More Trapline Tales

By , July 3, 2011

Some people feel that it’s wrong to trap mice, voles, and other garden pests, but for us, it’s essential. Every mouthful of food we get from the garden is one less we need to buy from a store, so anything that discourages or retards the growth of our produce, or gets to it before we do, is an enemy of our family.

Along with the standard mouse traps, we have a couple of live traps. We bought these when we lived in Juneau. We were between cats, and mice moved in. We would catch them in the trap and take them out to a meadow miles from home to release them. Here on the homestead, we dispatch what we catch. It’s an unpleasant process, so we rely more on the “sudden death in the midst of a good meal” variety of trap.

We’re helped, sporadically, by the local ravens. We’re glad they take an active interest in cleaning up our trap kills, but we worry that they might get over enthusiastic, and begin carrying off the trap along with the body. We also welcome the local predators, weasels and minks, in hopes that they’ll help keep the population down. We even discovered that the local coyotes could help but we haven’t seen or heard them around in more than a year now.

Within her limited range, our cat Spice does her best to catch voles and mice, or anything else that enters her sphere, such as shrews. It all adds up.

We’ve learned that vole tribes have territories, and that if a mating pair can be eliminated, it often takes a while for immigrants to fill the vacancy. We’ve caught a few pregnant voles, and have enjoyed a brief respite afterward. Before long, though, their neighbors discover they’re gone, and take over the business, as it were.

I believe last winter I’d predicted that we’d see fewer pests in the garden, because of our extended cold weather and low snow cover. That hasn’t been the case, so far.

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