Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Peacefully Co-Existing with Critters

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For someone who doesn’t believe in physical torture, I hate to admit how many slugs have died beneath my hori-hori. Buddhists have a no-harm guiding principle and believe you should extend loving-kindness to all living beings, including slugs. I’m not a Buddhist but I do believe in karma and am fully aware of issues in my life that might involve bad karma. Defending our home and garden against “invaders” is definitely one that may come back to bite me.

Not that I’m so egocentric to believe many of the native animals that frequent our yard are the “invaders”. We have to accept responsibility for forcing many critters into our neighborhoods by destroying their natural habitats to build homes and shopping centers.

Sitting at the kitchen table, I can see all sorts of creatures happily making our yard and garden their home. We have resident raccoons, opossums, rabbits, squirrels and unmentionable rodents. I’ve heard there are coyotes in West Seattle.

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Yesterday, the old predatory impulse reared its ugly head when I looked out to see two rats munching down on cerinthe seeds that had fallen on the path. Last year we waged an all out war on some rats that had decided to take up residence in our garage. Let me tell you, I was not about to surrender. We started out with the Have-a-heart traps and we did catch one. Never underestimate a rat, they are ingenious critters. I’ll spare you all the shenanigins but in the end, I was certain we had won the battle, now I’m not so sure.

Defining our place on the food chain is a confusing issue. Some feel by eating the animal you kill, you are taking responsibility for the life you have taken. It may be local, but I’m not there yet.

John Hadidian, the director of urban wildlife programs for the Humane Society has written a book, “Wild Neighbors: The Humane Approach to Living with Wildlife“. He has suggestions of how to peacefully co-exist. The Humane Society also has a wildlife hotline, (203) 389-4411, open from 8am to 8pm EST. For a humorous look at how others have dealt with wildlife in their gardens read Peter Rabbit Must Die from the NY Times.

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