Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Mike Gold 

Animal trapping l Off Kilter


Last updated 7/17/2019 at Noon

We’re in the process of building a new home. It’s located on a now empty lot down on the water in Edmonds.

Turns out we have colonies of mountain beaver living underground on this parcel. They have lived in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years.

The major problem with them is they can destabilize a hill. A hill full of underground boroughs can actually collapse, so we hired a trapper.

They put three “have a heart” traps on the parcel. They capture the animal “live,” then you call the trapper to come and relocate the animal. Only problem is if your land (ours did) has multiple colonies, even if you catch all the animals in one borough, other animals will most likely move into the now empty borough.

It took us only a day or so to figure out that unless we wanted to spend tens of thousands of dollars over a protracted time period, this was a waste of time and money.

After catching one animal in three weeks, we have decided to end this practice. Instead, our builder suggested that when we started moving earth with heavy machinery, the beavers would simply relocate due to the noise and vibration.

It is possible that after construction is over (say for a year or more), it is possible that the beavers could return. However, the land where their boroughs are now located would be under a house, so unlikely they would do that.

This reminded me of an experience we had when we lived back in Massachusetts. Seems we had both a raccoon and skunk problem.

One afternoon, a skunk appeared in our backyard with a yogurt container stuck on its head. No doubt the animal licked the inside then it got stuck.

So I purchased a have a heart trap and put it in an appropriate location. Raccoons were easy. You just drove them to some forested land and set them free.

Skunks, however, were a different issue. See, they can release their odor which is near impossible to remove from your clothing. So when we caught our first skunk, I called a trapper to come and remove it. He carefully approached the cage and draped a towel across it – mainly to prevent the skunk from seeing him. Then he placed the cage (skunk inside it) in the trunk of his car. I asked him if the animals ever sprayed inside the car. He said: “No, I play classical music and no problem.”

As he charged about $100 to relocate each skunk, I quickly figured out that this was something I should do on my own. So the next skunk we caught I repeated his identical procedure.

The only issue was how do you let the skunk go? So I kept the towel on the cage, carefully raised up the trap door (keeping myself on the opposite side of the cage) and the skunk simply sauntered out.

Over a three-month period, we caught over 30 raccoons and 15 skunks (also two possums). One of my friends suggested I spray an orange patch on each critter, just to ensure we were not trapping the same animal over and over again.

Our neighbors thanked me for ridding the neighborhood of these pesky animals. (As we moved away the next year, I have no idea if they returned to what was a now “fruitful” area in which to feed – little competition).

The first possum we caught appeared to be dead in the cage. It was only when we “released” the animal by opening up the trap door that the possum “suddenly came to life” and just trotted out of the cage. Now I know where the expression “playing possum” comes from.

What I’ve learned about wild animals who live amongst us is that they have been here long before humans built homes, etc. And they have adopted to this new environment.

One has to give them credit for being as least as smart as we are, maybe smarter!


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