Critters in the garden

The Chisago County Master Gardeners have received many contacts from gardeners and homeowners who want help managing critters. I have a three-ring notebook that includes some of those contacts. The information in this article doesn’t help solve the problems, but it may be interesting.
The main conversation about bats is the fungus that is killing bats while they’re hibernating. One concerned party is farmers, who rely on bats to help keep the insect population under control.
There are many bear stories around the coffee tables and most of the talk is how to keep them away from bird feeders. I spoke with a gardener who sprays bleach on the bird feeders since the birds can’t smell and bears don’t like the smell of bleach.
About five years ago, I received a call asking what to do with sandhill cranes that were eating her tomatoes. Since that was the first call like that I had, I didn’t have a clue. Nowadays, they eat anything they can find and farmers are concerned when planting corn because the cranes are right behind eating the seeds.
Every night for the last few years we would hear coyotes barking and yipping at bedtime. During that time we rarely saw rabbits, and yet it didn’t seem to hurt the pheasant population. This past year we haven’t seen or heard any coyotes and everyone sees rabbits all over, including us.
I could use the remainder of this article writing about the deer problem. Years ago it seemed that the main diet of deer were hostas. Now they seem to eat anything and everything. I think the only thing legal to do to control deer are fences.
I wrote an article on moles earlier this summer written mostly by Bob Meyer, who I consider an expert on mole control. Now that we are having adequate rainfall, so it’s easy digging, they are in most gardens and lawns.
Several years ago I asked Wayne Handlos, at that time owner and operator of the Lindstrom Greenhouse, to write about the rabbit problem. He stated that warmer winters and more and more things that rabbits like to eat, make it a real problem. Wayne ended the article by saying the only things that help are fences and live trapping, but live trapping is transferring the problem to someone else.
Many people are raising free-range chickens and other foul. The downside is they draw fox, hawks, owls, mice, rats, mink, weasels, and of course the coyote.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard about a woman who called 911 because a boa-constrictor was wrapped around her neck, and it was true because she raised snakes. I have not yet had such a call, but summer isn’t over.

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