♬ I’m Alright… Just Feeling A Little Sleepy… ♬

Allow me to preface this with the fact that I’ve made concerted efforts to teach my kids, and to practice myself, a high degree of respect for living things. We don’t crush bugs or hold magnifying glasses over ants, and we capture and release spiders back to the outside. We’re aggressively conscientious in that manner. But a few weeks after we moved in, my wife noticed a patch of dying grass in the back yard. Upon further inspection it became apparent that we had a gopher. Or more. And they were digging up our yard something awful. Once we had to stop watering while having work done, guess what? He popped up in the front yard. And started leaving numerous piles of dirt mounds while burrowing away and destroying our front yard.

Something had to be done.

I searched online for solutions, and none of them were practical or humane. In a perfect world, I’d just have put a carrot under an open, upside down box propped up at an angle using a dried and broken tree branch with a long string attached. In a perfect world I’d have sat on the front porch, bantered with my son sitting by my side while sipping an iced cold beer (me, not my son). And when the gopher stuck his furry little head out of the hole, caught a whiff of the carrot and scooted under the box, i’d hand the string to my son in a mentoring fashion that only a father might experience, and whisper “wait for it…. wait for it… NOW!”

But we don’t live in a perfect world.

Options for ‘capturing” gophers are almost non-existent, and all of the resources I could find online were not about the capture and rehabilitation of the rodent, but about the placement of poisons that would be painful to the animal and hazardous to the kids. There were brutal traps that would snap necks or drive spikes through them from above. There were gasses that would effect their nervous systems over repeated applications. There were even suggestions of putting “Juicy Fruit” gum down their holes, which upon eating it their digestive systems would be blocked and they’d slowly expire due to starvation.

So many choices. Where does one start?

After some time of putting things off, I decided I had to go to the hardware store and see what other options were available. I’d gone with the expectation that my only option would be a poison of some nature. Yet amongst the various poisons and impalers, I found something that, although still resulting in their demise, struck me as the most humane and effective solution. So $15 dollars later, I returned home to execute my newfound plan. And the gopher.

The solution I found attaches a garden hose to a car exhaust. Stuck down a recent mound while the others are sealed, the hose delivers a direct and steady dose of Carbon Monoxide. 30 minutes of the car idling in the driveway and the issue is addressed. And instead of being skewered or subjected to a slow and painful starvation, the little guy just stretches his arms, yawns, and takes a permanent nap.

Of course, in a perfect world, my son would have been beside me as we caught him in the box, but when it came to seeing me putting the hose down the hole and onto the exhaust, it was a completely different story. So I had to advise him that the gopher would not like the smell and would move to the nearby field, where he could live without digging in our yard, and could come to visit us any time he liked.

I know. It’ll come back to haunt me.

And I know I’ll never watch Caddyshack again with feeling a strange kinship with Bill Murray’s character, Carl.

“License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit – ever. They’re like the Viet Cong – Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote.”


Written by gsm

07/20/2007 at 8:08 am

Posted in  Journal 

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