I should be writing. Instead I sit in my office, staring out the window at a pair of voles cavorting in my front yard. They scamper back and forth past my Havahart trap, taunting me.
Living near open space, I’ve had my share of wildlife encounters: skunks ambling up behind the house in the early morning, a gopher snake sunning itself on the garden path, fence lizards doing push-ups on my front deck. I’ve surrendered our walnuts and pecans to the ravenous squirrels. In the ten years we’ve lived here, I’ve yet to taste a single one. I’ve moved my roses to preserve them from deer that forage for tender shoots along our driveway. But this time, the animals have gone too far.
Round holes the size of quarters multiplied among the colorful blooms in my favorite garden. Then one by one, whole plants began to disappear – sunny marigolds, blue lobelia, cosmos, and impatiens. What could have caused so much destruction?
“Voles,” my neighbor said. She called an exterminator. I set a trap.
That day, I caught my first vole – a tiny, gray-brown, mouse-like creature with black beads for eyes. Small ears flattened against its head, its tail short and furry. So cute, like the hamster my daughter wants. “Can we keep it?” she pleaded. Killing it or calling the exterminator was out of the question now. We released it in the open space far away from our house. I hoped it couldn’t find its way back.
I filled in the holes and sprinkled a fox-scented repellant around my flowers to protect them. I set the trap again and patrolled my garden. I caught three more. Finally, I think I have eradicated the little pests from my backyard. All my efforts have convinced them to move elsewhere…
Right into the greener pastures of my front yard.
Those coin-sized holes now litter my front garden, hidden under star jasmine and periwinkle. And the critters have gotten wise to my tactics: they skirt my Havahart trap, playing close, oh so close, but never venturing inside. From my window lookout, I spy two – a courting male and his mate. If I don’t catch them soon, they’ll have little vole babies and multiply faster than my words.
Can anyone loan me a cat?