Thursday, July 14, 2011

Killing Rabbits and other pests

The rabbit population is out of control.  One breeding pair can produce up to 800 offspring, children and grandchildren, in a single year.   Around here the rabbits are out in the greatest population in the early morning and also just before evening.  I went out into the garden yesterday evening to find two rabbits starring at me with mouths full of okra leaves.  I turned right around, went into the house and got my .22 and went back out.  Killed one, the other ran away.  I left the dead one out in the yard, perhaps to deter the other rabbits.  Stay away or you may end up like this one... Tonight I went back out to find one rabbit in the garden.  It took off before I could get close enough for a shot.  I could use a scope for my .22! Or at least go out there with my glasses on.

There are several ways to cut down on the rabbit population.  First is to have the yip-yips in the garden area to chase them away.  That would work if the yip-yips cared.  They don't.  The big dog will chase them away but she is usually too busy sleeping at that time because she stays up most of the night keeping the coyotes and mountain lions away.  Coyotes and mountain lions would kill the rabbits but they will also kill the sheep, ducks, chickens, and children (at least the lions will) so I'd prefer they stay off the property. 

Since the dogs aren't doing a great job keeping down the rabbit population there are several other ways to control them.  My favorite is shooting them but the most effective way is to poison them.  Since we don't eat rabbit meat I don't care how they die.  If we ate rabbits then the cause of their demise would be an important consideration. 

You can trap them live and let them out somewhere else.  That's a nice thing to do if you live in the city and your kids think that rabbits are first cousins with the Easter Bunny or Bugs Bunny.  But you aren't doing anyone a favor other than the rabbit. 

There are traps that will crush them and kill them.  The only problem with these kinds of traps is that they will kill  and/or crush whatever happens to get in them, whether it's the puppy, the duck, or your hand.  They aren't legal in all places and I have no idea if they are legal here or not.  I won't use these. 

You can put up fencing.  You can use up to 1 1/2" chicken wire for this job.   I just can't see fencing my garden beds, although if I needed to survive on my garden then you bet I'd be putting in the fencing.  You need to bury the fence between 6 inches and a foot deep and have it about 3 feet high.  I could either put it around each 4'x16' garden bed or just around the entire garden perimeter.   I've heard you can use a plastic mesh but I have visions of animals eating this, or a small fire burning through and melting it.  (I've seen those beautiful fake-wood white plastic fences melt when a fire comes roaring through.  Nothing like miles and miles of melted goop that used to be a fence. And the stuff costs more than real wood because it's maintenance free.)  I have several rolls of chicken wire stored in the barn for future needs.

What do I do besides shoot them?  I buy Rodenticides (stuff to kill rodents).  When I first moved here I was hitting up the local Orchard Supply almost weekly to buy bait to kill the mice.  One of their staff told me since I lived in the country I could go to the County Ag department and buy the stuff there for a much cheaper price.  I do that now and purchase a several year supply at a time.  I keep it stored safely because this stuff is an anticoagulant and I certainly wouldn't want the dogs, cats, or ducks to get into this by accident. 

The product name is Diphacinone.  There are a couple different strengths but I always get the .005 anticoagulant grain bait for $1.70 a pound.  It looks like blue oatmeal.  It kills ground squirrels, rats, mice, rabbits, and chipmunks.  You put it into bait stations, which are often made of PVC pipe or old cat litter buckets.  You do this so birds and other critters don't get to it.  I will also go out to the pasture and pour a little into each ground squirrel hole.  I'll go back a day later and see where it's been eaten and pour some more in.  I'll do that for several days and pretty soon the squirrel problem will be solved. 

In the barn I use the Diphainone .005 wax bait block.  You can buy these at Orchard Supply as well but they are much cheaper, at $2.64 a pound when I get them from the county.  I put these in the garage and the barns.  Very rarely do they get any nibbles in the garage.  My Clark Pest Control person told me that one of the problems with these is that they attract mice so I shouldn't put them in the house.  I used to but took his advice and don't do that any more.  We don't have mice in the house anyway as they pretty much hang out in the barns.  If you don't stake these down in the barn some creature will walk off with them.  I will put a wire stake through a stack of three or four near the grain in the barn since mice like that area anyway.  It seems to work pretty well. 

I know we will never get rid of all the mice or rabbits or squirrels but with the rodenticides and my shooting they will be kept under control. 


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