A recent raccoon raid of my winter birdfeeding stations, and a plentitude of coyote tracks – crisscrossing my frozen, snow-covered pond and making the rounds of the barn, brushpiles, woodpile, and the perimeter of the house – were the final straws.
It was high time for some nuisance animal and varmint control on my rural creekbottom home. Not that I am guaranteed success; both ‘coons and coyotes are abundantly clever, adaptable survivors.
They have their respective niches, and the same right as any living creature, including us humans, to find something to eat – especially in the starvation-hungry days of deep, late winter. But I regarded the marauding raccoon as more of a ring-tailed devil when it tore down nine hanging feeders are four stations and ate everything in sight while wrecking four of the feeders themselves.
As for the wandering ‘yote, I appreciate their role as a top predator, but only until their numbers and success at obtaining meals translates into what for me are unacceptable local losses in rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, and even red foxes and spring fawns. The wild canids are welcome to all the mice, voles, other assorted rodents, and stray cats they want. My construction of 35 or 40 brushpiles over the years has created havens for both smaller mammals and birds, and tracks in the fresh February snows show the coyotes make the rounds in hoping of flushing dinner.
So much for prelude. As of this writing, I have set up a box trap, baited with some of the seed-impregnated suet cake that the ‘coon tore out of my feeders. First night out the raccoon managed to tiptoe into the trap, wolf down the suet, and exit without tripping the pan. Then it climbed a nearby maple and opened the hanging suet feeder and scarfed down another cake. Dang.
So I reset the trap, this time wiring in the suet bait, and adjusted the trap’s door-trip to “hair-trigger” pressure. That is problematic because sometimes even brisk wind and flying snow can trip it. In any case, it is just a matter of time before the “lightfoot” makes a mistake. In which case I will euthanize the marauder with a high-speed injection of 40-grain, 22-caliber lead. Then I will set out the carcass to feed scavengers, like the coyotes.
As for an attempt to reduce the predation rates on small furbearers in the creekbottom, I intend to bundle up and top off in my winter whites, pocket my two predator calls – a mouse and an injured rabbit – and take up an ambush position with my trusty .22 Hornet. It will be a good way to while away some late-winter hours if nothing else. At best, it may result in a coyote carcass or two to feed scavengers, such as raccoons.