Unintended consequences of appeasement

Raccoon Gretchen maintains a number of bird feeders on our back deck and these feeders provide us with the pleasure of observing the interactions of 20 different species of birds.

We have recently been plagued by squirrels which will climb up on to the deck and empty a bird feeder in just a few minutes. In my younger days, I would have merely shot a few until the rest learned to keep their distance.

In our new, politically correct "age of reason", I thought I would see how appeasement would work on a local scale. After all, we have politicians who swear by the process in dealing with terrorists and illegal immigrants. Why not see how this would work on a smaller scale?

Since my neighbor Tom King made us a squirrel feeder some time ago, I decided to use it to lure the squirrels away from our bird feeders. I even set out a tray of corn for them with a big sign on it.

Sure enough, the squirrels loved the new sources of food and they played happily on the new feeders for a few days. So, I thought how wrong I have been. I could have been bribing varmints to leave us alone instead of whacking them. The politicians like Jimmy Carter were right. Kindness works!

Unfortunately the squirrels have an entitlement problem. Giving them new stuff did not make up for taking away the bird food they felt they were entitled to. They started climbing on the porch again and I started building barriers and installing mousetraps on their approach paths.

This slowed the squirrel invasion, but the continued availability of free corn in the squirrel feeders attracted a population of raccoons and long-legged squirrels. These long-legged squirrels and raccoons duke it out every night over who gets to empty the squirrel feeder.

Long-legged squirrels-sign

Whistling snorts and screeching make it hard to sleep at night. All of this activity is attracting more raccoons and they are now climbing on to the back deck and eating everything in sight.

I have tomatoes ripening in my micro garden and I don't want to lose this year's crop to visiting varmints. It's time to change my policies and enforce the borders of our living space.

No more corn for squirrels or anybody else. Let them forage for themselves and we will maintain friendly relations with them as long as they respect our boundaries. If we find unwanted furry visitors on our deck or in our gardens, we will use increasing levels of force to drive them off or remove them permanently from the scene.

We will see how long it takes to establish a new relationship with the wildlife in our vicinity. I think it should take only a few days if we do it right.

If we don't take effective action soon, we could run the risk of attracting larger predators like coyotes which follow wildlife population shifts.

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