This is a story about how I disturbed the delicate ecological balance around Lords Park and the entire western Elgin planning area for years to come and cost myself a lot of money in the process.
We live very close to the far eastern/southeastern corner of the verdant, venerable old park, approximately a stone’s throw from the deer pen (if you have a strong arm. Don’t aim at the deer though.)
The dappled shadows play lightly across the rolling terrain, a light breeze rustling the leafy canopy. Being a park, various creatures wander about on nature’s bounty, failing to recognize the park’s boundaries and assuming all space is sanctuary.
Over the time I have lived there, we have been visited by deer, a very beautiful fox, a ravenous hawk who devoured a squirrel in my front yard, various species of birds and of course all of God’s smaller creatures, like gophers, chipmunks, raccoons, porcupines, opossum, and various other furry things which move without grace, scurrying from under the shed to beneath the deck. Cats come and go, an occasional dog, and one other animal whose purpose on this Earth eludes me.
The chief vermin of the animal kingdom….The Skunk.
My theory is that during creation, God was tinkering with certain creatures. He was really tired because creating the universe is hard work. It was late, He had too much coffee and He got this crazy idea of an animal that would defend itself not with guile, cunning, speed, climbing ability, ferocity, sheer size or the ability to fly. No. He would create a putrid little furball that defended itself by spraying a noxious stench on any near-by predators, or anyone else if the mood struck it. Skunks have very poor vision and decide that if they think they see something that might be remotely threatening, even a tree stump, better to spray it and not take any chances.
One can only tolerate the headache-inducing, nauseating, foul, piercing XXXX for so long before one is motivated to make it stop.
I called a pest control company based west of Elgin and for $125, he set up several cage traps baited with marshmallows, a skunk favorite. While required by law to terminate the little pests, he often “forgets” to latch the cage properly once he is out in the country, allowing them to relocate to the wide-open spaces.
Each animal he removed would cost me $50 and he seemed confident we would apprehend the odiferous intruder in short order.
The first night, a loud thumping and thrashing informed us that something had indeed, been snared. Two raccoons, perhaps out for a moonlight stroll, stopping off for a snack. He came and got them, reset the traps and had to return the next day for two more raccoons.
And on it went. We trapped 12 raccoons and two opossums (opposi?) over two weeks. We even caught our own cat in one of the cages and debated momentarily whether she shouldn’t also be relocated, lest she lower the cumulative household IQ. She was the less interesting of our two cats but amused us nonetheless so we let her out. She doesn’t even like marshmallows. One opossum was trapped three nights in a row. We kept letting him go but he liked the marshmallows and there wasn’t any apparent downside, so why not?
One night my wife went outside and bore witness to what she can only describe as one of the saddest scenes she has ever come across. One opossum was trapped inside the cage and his or her mate (how can you tell?) sat outside the cage, actually crying.
While it would have been fairly easy to beat them both to death with a baseball bat, not my wife. She opened the cage and released them both to resume marital bliss. I told you she had a heart.
After about three weeks and just over $800, the pest control company advised that we should probably wrap this up since they were sure the skunk was long gone. We got another raccoon (this one was on the house, he said), and he removed the traps.
So, in sum, I spent over $800, relocated half the wildlife in a three county area, scared my poor cat to death and the wily skunk escaped unscathed.
A week later, we saw another raccoon milling about the back yard. I think he thumbed his nose at me.
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