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Dispensing of pests - ethicality and necessity

 
Posts: 47
Location: Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (7b)
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So I’m sure a lot of you (probably most) have to deal with some form of pest on the regular. Up here I have a ton to contend with.
For the deer - I’ve fenced the yard and got a dog. For the slugs, I hand-pick and sand garden perimeters. Other insects I generally leave be, as leaving a lot of wild areas through the yard seems to allow for a good balance.

The pest I have beef with is the rat. They raid my garden and greenhouse nightly, they patter around in my roof all winter long, where the they poop and chew on who-knows-what.

After a few weeks of losing most of my greenhouse produce I decided to set a rat trap. So far, I’m 6/6 nights; every time I set a trap, I wake up to a dead rat. I’m not a fan of killing anything if it’s not necessary, but I feel these rats (who have taken over every continent in the world except Antarctica) are a true pest. I have bad memories of catching mice dying in traps my parents set in the garage, and that’s made it hard for me to dispense of the rats, but if I don’t - they eat everything. I live pretty rural with no neighbors- and I can’t imagine there’s a huge population right here. At this rate - I feel I may wipe them out if I continue. It’s hard for me to see them dead, but this morning I found one who had escaped the trap and was dying beside it.

I’m using large snap-traps which have been effective up until today.

What do you all do about serious pests? Especially rats...
 
Posts: 1924
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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I don't have the same problem. We have mouse traps and I'm happy with every mouse we kill. We also shoot rabbits. I mean we do thing as humanely has possible but if I could somehow kill every ground squirrel and rabbit on the property I would shed no tears.
 
garden master
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Simon Gooder wrote:
What do you all do about serious pests? Especially rats...



We have a couple farm cats, and they're pretty good with the rodent population control. My suggestion is using nature to do the work for you, either with cats, or if you're not a cat person, a dog, specifically the terrier breed. Terriers can be pretty ruthless hunting rats, and can quickly get a rat population problem under control, and remaining rats will likely leave the premises to avoid the threat. I think that not only will either of these possibilities help your situation, there's also the added benefit of having companionship with a cat or dog.
 
pollinator
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Last year I had rat problems in my garden, they were digging up my trenched compost and starting to venture close to the rabbits` hutches. I got them all in large metal rattraps.
I also have mouse issues, they are everywhere, and every spring when I plant my seeds I have to put down poison. I have tried every kind of seedling cage system as well as traps and nothing stops them from getting in and eating my seeds. I hate to use poison, and I limit it to an area where the dog has no access, but it is the only thing that has stopped the mice from taking over my garden, my seed area, and probably also my house.
 
pioneer
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James Freyr wrote:

Simon Gooder wrote:
What do you all do about serious pests? Especially rats...



We have a couple farm cats, and they're pretty good with the rodent population control. My suggestion is using nature to do the work for you, either with cats, or if you're not a cat person, a dog, specifically the terrier breed. Terriers can be pretty ruthless hunting rats, and can quickly get a rat population problem under control, and remaining rats will likely leave the premises to avoid the threat. I think that not only will either of these possibilities help your situation, there's also the added benefit of having companionship with a cat or dog.



As a kid we had a little schnauzer terrier mix kind of dog and he was a terror on the rodent community.  He would spend hours hunting and killing them.  If I had a large rat problem, I would get a rat terrier from good working lines.
 
pioneer
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What are peoples thoughts on live trapping rats and releasing them away from the property the next day?
 
James Freyr
garden master
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Ben Schiavi wrote:What are peoples thoughts on live trapping rats and releasing them away from the property the next day?



I have tried this, not with rats, but with squirrels. I had a squirrel problem, eating all the birdseed and suet years ago. So come spring, because I didn't want to relocate the squirrels in winter when there's no good food source for them, I started live trapping and I drove them to a forested park about 6 or 7 miles away. I trapped 23 squirrels in four or five weeks, and it had little impact on the squirrel population. Squirrels have a balance in population density and territory, and when I removed one, another one moved in and took its place. I am unsure if rats work the same way, but I guess it's always worth a try, and perhaps removing them will provide the population relief you seek so you can eat the food in your garden.
 
Simon Gooder
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I already have a dog (LGD, so not a rat-killer) so I likely won’t be getting another any time soon - although if I had a bigger space I’d definitely consider it.

Regarding cats, I’m not a fan of the collateral damage they cause (birds mainly), and them pooping in the gardens would negate their impact (in my eyes). There’s also a large population of eagles and martens around here which may cause a new issue if I had cats!

I can’t use the poison here either, as there are many protected predators around and this would likely make its way into the food chain.

I’m going to have to toughen up and get used to killing the little buggers. I had to dispatch one with a shovel today, and while it wasn’t easy - I’m more than ready to catch another tonight.

I’ve heard of relocating with rats and mice, but others will definitely move in to take their place, so I suppose it’s more about keeping the population in check...

Thanks for your input and Happy hunting!
 
pollinator
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The bane of my existence on this property is ground squirrels. I'm not sure what's going to work. There are so many and their burrows are well-established. Looking on the UCDavis site, they say that natural predators won't provide good control, but it seems to me that has to be locale specific, because obviously the whole planet hasn't become overrun with ground squirrels. We have plenty of predators that eat them, birds of prey, foxes, bobcats. We are considering rat terriers, we have outside cats, strays mostly, but I'm concerned the rat terriers would get picked off overnight by other predators. Does anyone have rat terriers or other ratter dogs that could provide some insight?
 
gardener
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I actually like and appreciate the intelligence and resilience of rodents,  but I hate and fear the disease that they can harbor and spread,  so I kill them.

I have had luck with snap traps,  and also buckets of water with sunflower seeds floating on the surface.
The buckets are emptied into the compost.

My dog is a blue heeler,  yet she is a enthusiastic ratter.

I wonder,  could one buy and release snakes?
Gonna look into that...

 
steward
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Ben Schiavi wrote:What are peoples thoughts on live trapping rats and releasing them away from the property the next day?



The animals that get dumped at my farm often die a miserable death. It seems like every ecosystem niche that can support them  is already occupied by someone else, so they fight it out, and the newby often loses. Or it can't find food/shelter/water in it's new location, so it starves, or gets dehydrated, or dies of exposure. Or predators take it out. Or somehuman shoots it, or traps it, etc.

My feeling is that the person that releases an animal into a strange place incurs more karmic debt than the person that kills an animal.
 
pollinator
Posts: 2245
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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I fully agree with what Joseph has said about moving animals.

I have had to cull various animals around our place - squirrels, rabbits, mice. I'm fussy about what I use though - we had one live trap for rabbits that ended up injuring. We stopped using that.

We had a mouse in the house last winter. I put a live trap down and caught it, then moved it outdoors. Then we saw it again a few minutes later. Turns out our "mouse" was a large family of 30+ living under the floor. We invested in a set of really strong mouse traps and set 6 at a time. I caught 6 most nights, baited with peanut butter. They were all clean kills. I mention this because your 6/6 rat trapping sounds like you have a much bigger population than you realise. I'd be trying to put down 6 traps a night for a few week to make a dent in the population.

I haven't yet got a handle on our squirrel problem. My favoured solution is baited traps, but even catching two or three a week through the summer doesn't seem to have slowed things down. They still stripped most of our fruit, all of our nuts and damaged trees. They have truly abundant forage around our area and breed prolifically. We see half a dozen on a five minute walk around the garden every day. I'm currently thinking that I need to set up a feeding station through the winter and cull them with an air rifle. They are less interested in bait during summer when there is so much food around.
 
Tereza Okava
pollinator
Posts: 497
Location: South of Capricorn
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re the rats: i found last year when dealing with the rats in the garden that not all rat traps are made the same. I bought a few different kinds, one was apparently a joke (the rats just stole the bait) but the one that cost a wee bit more was the one that had a clean kill every night.

Many, many years ago I worked at a camp in the forest one summer (which was idle all year, in a place with very abundant squirrel food, and then used as a children's summer camp for 2 months). We had red squirrels instead of mice and rats, and they were so insistent they chewed holes in the window screens to get into the camp kitchen, they chewed on my boots.... i ran the horse program and trying to keep them out of the horse feed was a nightmare. About a week in when we realized the size of the problem we set snap traps EVERYWHERE and also gave slingshots to every camper who wanted one. I don't think any slingshot actually killed any squirrels, just the traps, but regardless we seemed to make enough of an impact.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1924
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Stacy Witscher wrote:The bane of my existence on this property is ground squirrels. I'm not sure what's going to work. There are so many and their burrows are well-established. Looking on the UCDavis site, they say that natural predators won't provide good control, but it seems to me that has to be locale specific, because obviously the whole planet hasn't become overrun with ground squirrels. We have plenty of predators that eat them, birds of prey, foxes, bobcats. We are considering rat terriers, we have outside cats, strays mostly, but I'm concerned the rat terriers would get picked off overnight by other predators. Does anyone have rat terriers or other ratter dogs that could provide some insight?



I have a ground squirrel infestation. It wasn't a really big problem until the oil boom. All the drilling pushed them to the safety of the houses, where they can't drill too close. Now we have them in spades. My neighbors are not suffering like I am and it's because they all have cats. We can't keep cats. Tried. So if you want to eliminate the ground squirrels I suggest you attract/get more cats.
 
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