Whack-a-Mole

Last spring, as the snow receded from our yard, we noticed some little trails leading from under the deck to various shrubs and areas in my garden.  As we moved toward summer, we started seeing little guys running through the complex trail system.  My husband called them meadow mice.  I called them critters.  My son called them targets for his pellet gun. My neighbors called them vermin and had Orkin spread poison around their yards to kill them.  Then my pug called them a snack.  Yuck.

This year, the guys are back en masse.  Not only do we have trails around our yard, but they gorged themselves on grass roots all winter and left piles of dead grass all over the place.

Something is out of balance in our micro-ecosystem.  We think it started when the foxes disappeared a couple of years ago.  We liked the foxes.  They had a den just around the corner, where their babies were born every year.  We used to watch them wander the golf course fringe behind our house, stalking and then jumping on unseen prey.  And then we noticed that we hadn’t seen their bushy tails in quite some time.  Our neighbors noticed, too, and we began to speculate as to where they went.  Mountain lions?  Construction on the 17th hole that spooked them?  Certainly no lack of food …

So, now we have critters.  And they eat my flowers.  They taunt us, flagrantly chewing away on the young green leaves.  My son is doing his best to take them out with his arsenal of pellet guns and compressed air-propelled BB’s.  But I fear that for every one he manages to eradicate, seven more are born in little dens tucked safely away under the bushes.  I really hate the idea of poisoning them, and I hope our neighbors lost Orkin’s number.  It just seems like a mass murder of the little beasts will send us even more out of balance.

We did see a fox a few times this spring.  Maybe it’s a momma hunting for her kits.  I hope she likes it here and gets really fat on our abundance of tiny rodents.  She’s a much more effective hunter than the pellet gun toting kid, and a lot less noisy.

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