Gravel Gertie counsels on common critters ...

Inside and out, folks need help managing bugs, livestock, and relatives.

Dear Gertie,

Some shiftless, low-down, dog or dogs killed our rabbits. We can get more but what would you if you were me? The grand-youngens' are heart broken and I'm not too good a shot with a pistol. Should I get a shotgun or new glasses? I spied the varmints that did it and got one with a six-shooter (only because he was in the cage with the rabbits) but the other got away. What can be done?

Wanda in Whitfield

Dear Wanda, I hate to see that because wild dogs are a nuisance and a risk. They destroy property and carry a ton of nasty ol' diseases. Your choices on how to handle them include trapping them, poisoning them, or entirely fencing in your property. Since you probably have pet dogs (and relatives!) that hang around your house, the poisoning route isn't for you. Also as you know, fencing is expensive, so this leaves trapping. Call the dogcatcher and get a couple of traps, then start saving up your leftovers. Set the traps using the stinky leftovers, and when you catch a dog, call the law and get ol' Wilbur to cart off that dog. Or, you can destroy the dog yourself because it is within your rights as a property owner to protect your possessions. Don't feel guilty for shooting the dog; there just isn't any rehabilitation for a wild dog.

If you happen to trap someone's pet dog, then find the owner and invite him over for a bowl of crowders and a "nice" little chat; tell him that you charge $10 an hour for dog sittin' and he owes you 50 bucks.

Gertie,

You said, "Don't feel guilty for shooting the dog; there just isn't any rehabilitation for a wild dog." Bear in mind that in some cases you may be held criminally responsible for that!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your 'advise' is satanic. Who the hell do you think you are?

Susan B.

Dear Susan,

I'm sorry you feel that way, sugar. I'd rather kill the danged varmint than have it kill off my chickens - or worse - hurt my babies. Plus, I ain't talking about pet dogs - I'm talking about WILD/FERAL dogs. Dogs that were born in the wild and run in packs.

"Who the hell do I think I am?" I think I'm a country woman trying to protect my family and livelihood and property. Why don't you march your hind-end down to my parts, put your feet in my shoes and see how you survive? The dogs have killed off most of the chickens and have killed a couple of the family's calves - most of the neighbors have suffered some type of loss from these nuisance animals.

How would you explain to your eight-year-old child that those danged dogs killed her pet rabbit? What would you tell your six-year-old son after a pack of feral dogs killed his pet?

I'd be criminally responsible? The laws of this great nation grant citizens the right to protect themselves, with deadly force if need be, from threats. You can shoot dogs if they pose a
threat to living property, livestock, pets, etc. Feral dogs are classified in nearly all states as nuisance animals and are not subject to game laws. Sure, it's a dumb thang to shoot a dog for crossing the yard, but when I catch the critter ripping up one of my sheep - you can bet yer biscuits that I'll shoot him!

I'm satanic? Good gracious, I've been called a bunch of things, but never "satanic". Yess'm, I'm a sinner - but I have a great relationship with Jesus. He's my best buddy and He's always there for me. Maybe you're calling me satanic because I advocate shooting WILD mongrels that kill off my livestock. Last I checked, I don't do no religious sacrifices - I don't need to. Jesus already took care of that for me.

Who the hell do you think YOU are?

Addendum: the following letter is from my bud, Ben ...

Ever seen a child mauled by a wild dog? A family pet? Ever been mauled?

Didn't think so. I have.

Wild dogs. I kill them. 1) It saves taxpayer money because the dogs are killed anyway. 2) It lets law enforcement officers handle problems that private folks can't handle such as murder, rape, arson and drunk drivers. 3) It eliminates another disease vector, most especially rabies.

Ever seen a human die of rabies?

Didn't think so.

Whine, complain and debate the point all you want to. But, once you've been attacked by a dog or had a child mauled or seen someone you love die from rabies, then come talk to me about letting someone else handle the problem.

Meantime do please feel free to come and collect all the wild dogs around here that you can. My tax dollars have better things to do than coddle killers.

Ben Baker
Managing Editor, the Wiregrass Farmer

Dear Gertie,

How do you get a live skunk out of a trap? I have caught several lately and I'm running out of friends.

James from Red Clay

Dear James, what a predicament you've gotten yourself into! Skunks don't fear many animals (or man!) and their scent glands can spray up to 10 feet!

Slowly approach the trapped skunk and cover the trap with a tarp or a piece of thick burlap and wear gloves! Or, wrap the trap in heavy cloth or burlap at the time you set it (this may encourage the skunk to enter the trap). The skunk will be less fearful and less likely to spray you when it is kept in the darkened trap. Carefully, pick up the covered trap and place it gently in the back of your pickup. Try to avoid sudden jarring movements or loud noises. Skunks carry a high risk for rabies, so if you notice the skunk being really aggressive or drooling (kinda like your cousin-in-law does at Thanksgiving), it would be best to shoot them (NOT with a shotgun and NOT toward your trailer!).

As prevention, Skunks are nocturnal, and they feed on bugs and love to paw in your garbage. Put your garbage in containers that have lids. Next, to stop the skunk from digging in your yard for food, you'll need to reduce the local insect and grub levels. Use a scatter box to spread a pesticide with concentrated Diazinon 4E. At night, soak some rags in ammonia and place them in the holes that the skunks left, and after a couple of days, fill in the holes. Also, rigging up some outdoor floodlights to shine beneath your trailer will repel those buggers. Good luck!

Dear Gertie,

I'm so sick of finding mouse poop in my cabinet. How can I get rid of these pests once and for all?

Martha from Opp

Dear Martha, I feel your pain. A close personal friend of mine had a funny encounter you might want to read. Anyhoo, you might want to look around the pipes, cables, and vents that go into and out of your house to see if there are any openings wide enough for a mouse's skull to fit through. If you can't find any and you still have mice, then you'll have to invest in a cat, glue traps, or some of those snap traps. If you use the snap traps, the best bait is a dab of peanut butter or some pumpkin seeds.

Dear Gertie,

Little Junior is all the time getting stung by waspers. I've tried alcohol, cortisone cream, and that fancy bug spray stuff. Have any other ideas?

Angel from Alabaster

Dear Angel, try slicing a fresh white onion or potato and holding it on the sting for a minute or two. Definitely put ice on the sting to bring the swelling down. Get your hubby to look around your porch, eaves, and Junior's swing set for wasp nests. I throw ammonia on the nest to get rid of it. Raid® hornet spray works pretty good too. If you like to fish, use the larva in the nests as bait.

Gertie,

My neighbor's cat constantly takes a dump in my petunias. How can I inexpensively get the cat to avoid my flower bed?

Flo in Ringgold

Dear Flo, sprinkling cut up orange peels and coffee grounds around your flowers will help. Also, lying in wait for the unsuspecting cat with your daughter's saxophone ought to get a rise out of ol' Tom.

Dear Gert,

How can I stop my hens from eating their eggs?

Edna in Ooltewah

Hidy Edna. Chickens don't naturally eat their eggs, so there is some poor management of your flock. Possible causes are:

For more, check out Prevention of Egg Eating.

Dear Gertie,

Every Sunday after church, my cousin Jimmy shows up hungry. How can I subtly let him know that he isn't welcome?

Gwen in Gatlinburg

Poor Gwen, I have a cousin Jimmy that does that too! A couple of Sunday suppers of peanut butter and pickle sammages cured him of his habit!

Got a question about varmints? Email Gertie!

Copyright © 2002, Gravel Gertie
Revised - 02/19/02
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