May 7, 2016

Cat problem is a skunk problem.

A letter to a real estate advice column (in the NYT):
A neighbor leaves bowls of food around the neighborhood for feral cats, even placing some on the grounds of the Russian diplomatic mission at the end of our block. I’ve asked her to stop, and I remove food when I can, but to no avail. The cats treat my garden like their litter box, track mud over my car and wail and moan when they fight or mate. Worse, the food attracts skunks. A neighbor’s dog was sprayed twice and my shuttered window was sprayed, filling my house with the stench. Another neighbor and I trapped seven skunks to be released in Pelham Bay Park, but there are more. What recourse do I have?
Sounds like he currently has 7 skunks in a cage and is relying on letter-writing to figure out what to do. Doesn't he have a bigger problem than the feral-cat lady. 

51 comments:

mikee said...

3S: Shoot, shovel, shut up.

Alternately, try getting rid of the cats & skunks instead of the LOL.

Gahrie said...

Trap the cats and either release them elsewhere or take them to the pound. (if they really are feral)

Levi Starks said...

It's been my experience that a Jack Russell terrier is a natural born killer when it comes to varmints up to about 20 Lbs.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Owen said...

mikee: "3S…"

Thread-winner. Right out of the gate.

This is a miniature version of the ongoing collision between urban preconceptions and exurban reality. Deer eating the lovely plantings or coming through your windshield. Coyotes denning in the ravine behind your fence. Safe-cracking raccoons. And, now, bears drifting in, with big appetites.

There's more than one reason to favor the Second Amendment.

Ambrose said...

"......even placing some on the grounds of the Russian diplomatic mission at the end of our block. "

Does Putin know?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Here is our mode of operation.

Trap the cats. Take them to the vet using the free service to spay or neuter provided by a local non profit SNIPP. They are fixed and inoculated for rabies or (sorry) put down if they are too ill or have leukemia. Ear clipped to show they have already been fixed and then released again. They won't reproduce anymore. Our feral cat population is getting lower all the time. The cats serve a great purpose here. They kill ground squirrels and other vermin. Useful.

The skunks. While they are sleeping....they sleep a lot....put a blanket, one you don't care about, over the live trap so it is dark and if they spray you can toss the blanket. Put them in the back of the truck and drive them many many miles from the house into the wild and let them go free.

Same for the foxes and raccoons, except without the blanket. We don't want them on our property to kill our pets,livestock/chickens or get into the garbage... but can't bring ourselves to kill them. They are just doing what comes naturally. They can find a new home in their new location.

robother said...

Ann has identified the letter writer's grammatical error. I suspect he is referring to a past intention to engage in a future action (ie., the skunks were trapped with a view to releasing them into Pelham Bay Park).

Given the obvious difficulties in transporting trapped skunks in a suburban vehicle, the proposed release is undoubtedly a rhetorical fiction--Pelham Bay Park being the NYC equivalent of the happy farm so many household pets of the 50s were taken to by our fathers. No doubt ancient Greek and Sanskrit had subjunctive/imaginative modes to deal with this, but modern English leaves us high and dry when writing to publications where virtue signalling is an absolute necessity.

We are so trapped.

Big Mike said...

Sounds like he currently has 7 skunks in a cage and is relying on letter-writing to figure out what to do. Doesn't he have a bigger problem than the feral-cat lady.

I suspect he meant to say that he trapped seven skunks and released them in Pelham Park. Depending on how far away Pelham Park is, he probably has trapped the same skunk seven times.

No, he doesn't have a bigger problem than the feral cat lady. She's enticing vermin into the neighborhood. If he lives in an urban area he risks going to jail for unlawful discharge of a firearm if he shoots the animals. And that's if he can legally own a firearm where he's at. Heller aside, places like Chicago, Washington, and New York City place numerous hurdles in the way of legally owning a handgun.

El Camino Real said...

Meanwhile, on the South Side...

surfed said...

Remedy: CO2 air gun (usually legal to fire within a city limits)&, night scope and a shovel. Get a bottle of Jack Daniels, put out some bait and have fun. Works equally well card or skunks.

David said...

No "stupid" tag?

I suppose you could use that on a lot of posts.

Quaestor said...

Oops, bad subject verb agreement. Reposting...

The domestic cat is descended from the African Savanna Cat or Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) and as such is an invasive species anywhere in the Western Hemisphere when allowed to roam free. Skunks, however are indigenous to North America. Not only that they are one of the few mammals of North America with only one close relation in the Old World, the Stink Badger of Borneo. (The geographic distribution of the Mephitidae is still a mystery of evolution.)

It's surprising how many greenie-weenies, who rightly decry the trade in exotic reptiles by lunatic "collectors" with far too many tattoos, see as nothing but praiseworthy the cosseting of feral cats.

Original Mike said...

My Dad caught a skunk once while trapping woodchucks. He ended up burying his clothes.

Michael K said...

When I was in medical school, we lived in a small house in a little compound in Los Angeles. It used to be a resort, I think, in the 1920s. Anyway there were six little houses on one driveway. The owner used to trap the numerous skunks that lived there and he had a box trap he baited with avocado slices. When the trap caught a skunk, he had a larger box that the trap fit into. He would then fill the box with water and drown the skunk. Every Monday, trash day, he would have five or six dead skunks out in front for the trash men to pick up.

He never ran out of skunks while I lived there. Of course, that was back when California was sane.

David said...

The skunks. While they are sleeping....they sleep a lot....put a blanket, one you don't care about, over the live trap so it is dark and if they spray you can toss the blanket. Put them in the back of the truck and drive them many many miles from the house into the wild and let them go free.

Same for the foxes and raccoons, except without the blanket. We don't want them on our property to kill our pets,livestock/chickens or get into the garbage... but can't bring ourselves to kill them. They are just doing what comes naturally. They can find a new home in their new location.


And do this at night in disguise so the critters' new neighbors have no idea who you are.

Captain Ned said...

Here in VT this would have been quickly dealt with with a good old .22.

Psota said...

Sounds like this lady is spying on the Russian diplomatic mission. The business with the skunks is just the inevitable blow back from a false flag operation.

Owen said...

robother: "…we are so trapped." OMG, LOL.

And many other comments: ROFLMAO. Well done, all.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't know about New York, but around here it's illegal (I think) to trap an animal and then release it somewhere else.

Ann Althouse said...

Also, the Humane Society website instructs that it is not humane to move an animal to another location.

Unknown said...

Antifreeze cocktail.

Fernandinande said...

I'm aghast at the advice to shoot or trap the crazy cat-lady, so here's more free advice: Malamutes.

Ours enjoyed killing cats and skunks, then peeing on the cats and rolling around in the skunk guts. The skunk perfume never fazed her.
"Now you get to stay outside for a month!"
"OK. More skunks out here."

Quaestor said...

I don't know about New York, but around here it's illegal (I think) to trap an animal and then release it somewhere else.

More often than not a given environment is already at maximum sustainable population for a given species unless special condition (i.e. human activity) prevail. Therefore when one traps an animal, such as a skunk, and transports it to what appears to be a suitable yet distant locale then what one has done is not the saving of one life but the endangerment of many lives, the relocated skunk and the skinks already there. It seems heartless, but it likely better to kill nuisance skunks than relocate them. Ditch the "hav-a-hart" traps and buy a varmint rifle.

Quaestor said...

Skinks?? Safari auto-correct strikes again, only this time implying a relationship between species. Skunks eat skinks, but they don't compete with them.

Quaestor said...

I hate my iPad.

Gahrie said...

I don't know about New York, but around here it's illegal (I think) to trap an animal and then release it somewhere else.

It is probably illegal to shoot them too...doesn't stop anybody.

Roughcoat said...

Well, Quaestor, I don't know about you, but my neighborhood is absolutely infested with skinks. Lotta snipes too.

Fernandinande said...

Quaestor said...
Skinks??


"Skunk" is the past tense of "skink", so it's OK.

Owen said...

Roughcoat: "…Lotta snipes too." Is that the past tense of "snopes"?

Fernandinande: "…Malamutes." Oh yes. Made me laugh!

Original Mike said...

"I don't know about New York, but around here it's illegal (I think) to trap an animal and then release it somewhere else."

"Also, the Humane Society website instructs that it is not humane to move an animal to another location."


Sorry, but the rabbits that gnaw (I.e. kill) the bark on my yews when we get heavy snow cover get moved elsewhere. I have found I only need to move one or two a winter to keep my shrubs alive.

I would like confirmation on whether or not it is illegal. I didn't know that, and if so I will be more surreptitious in the future.

Original Mike said...

"I hate my iPad."

Funny, I was just saying the same thing while I trying to write my previous comment. Though my ire was directed at touchscreens.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Texas veterinarian has a rational solution. But society is no longer rational.

jeff said...

Build a Starbucks, that'll scare the riffraff away, only problem then is the gays move in.

Phil 3:14 said...

Professor,
Are you having neighbor problems?

JaimeRoberto said...

Once you have trapped the skunks cover the trap with a tarp and drop the cage in a tub of water. Now because some jurisdictions frown on killing wildlife, you must dispose the bodies in an empty field or a vacant lot like a mafioso. At least this is what I've heard.

Chuck said...

Feral cats should not be neutered and moved; they should be killed. By all accounts, they are an invasive species. One of the most harmful invasive species around these days. Feral cats are the number-one human-introduced cause of bird deaths in North America, which is saying an awful lot, when one considers the devastation caused by high-rise glass buildings and habitat destruction. If more people knew what horrific damage was done to bird populations, they would be outraged. A number of prominent and respected naturalists have gotten into social-media trouble for advocating the poisoning of feral cats with Tylenol-laced food.

And many more do-it-yourselfers recommend (as you see above) cat food mixed with standard automotive antifreeze containing ethylene glycol. Antifreeze is a devastatingly effective poison in most mammals, but especially cats and dogs. If you want to poison feral cats -- this is what I have heard and not something I recommend, of course -- you simply set out a standard can of cat food that is half food and half antifreeze. One meal of that (antifreeze tastes sweet to dogs and cats), and the animal will have about two hours to live.

And there is no antidote so if you do this, and the neighbors' Labrador retriever gets into it, you will have murdered that member of that family.

So, uh, if you decide to do this thing that I don't advise, better be damned careful and know where it is at all times and what animals can get into it.

As for shooting skunks; I've taken out about a dozen with a .22. Here is my recommended setup. First, you may be concerned about shooting up a residential neighborhood. If you are not concerned about neighbors, take your shotgun and a flashlight (a Remington 870 with a SureFire tactical light would be good for skunks as it would be for home defense) a go kill every skunk you can find after dark. If you have neighbors who would be less than thrilled at hearing a skunk hunt at 1:00 am, and you don't want to spend $700-$3000 on a suppressor, find some of the better "quiet" subsonic .22 ammo. It is a fabulous, amazing product. The sound is about the same as toppling a push-broom. But those rounds don't work real well in some of the cute, sexy semi-auto carbines and ranch guns. So get yourself a quality bolt-action with very good low-light 4x scope. Sight it in carefully, and practice with it. You should be able to put 3 rounds into a poker chip at 25 yards. You really want to avoid wounded skunks running around.

I killed about half of my skunks with one shot to the head/neck. All the others were dead with a second shot, with only one escapee who was discovered a week later.

Again, this is all for informational purposes only, and should not be attempted at home under any circumstances. My friend who told me about all of this wanted you to know. I forgot my friend's name; otherwise I'd definitely give you his email address so you could ask him any questions.

gadfly said...

When you have a skunk problem, getting them out of the neighborhood is as easy as scattering ammonia-soaked rags near the entrance to their den. They will leave. After "skexit", seal the den entry.

"Community Cats" are another problem. Our City Animal Control and Rescue people will provide traps to catch the kitties and - provided that they are feral and free of leukemia, will neuter them, insert an identification chip, clip the cat's ear and then return the felines back to your neighborhood at taxpayer expense. Strays are returned to care of cat lovers through adoption programs and finding owners who have "chipped" their cats. The County has a barn cat program

Gahrie said...

Wow Chuck...I knew you were a dick from your trump rants, but I didn't know what a complete asshole you were....killing neighbor's pets for fun sounds exactly like something you would do.

Do you tase their children also when they come into your yard?

Chuck said...

Gahrie, since I have never killed a neighbor's pet, and strongly recommend not doing so, and since I would never derive any "fun" from doing so, and since I sincerely warned about the danger of doing so, I have no idea what you are talking about. Other than that you have a real personal animus against me; and which, as of this moment, is mutual.

Gahrie said...

You need to work on your passive-aggressive skills also...

ceowens said...

@ Chuck:

I wish you were my neighbor.

kentuckyliz said...

Use humane traps to catch the skunks, then release them at the neighbor lady-who-feeds-feral-cats' house. It's her behavior you're trying to change.

CatherineM said...

The cat and skunk discussion makes me think of Pepe Le Pew and poor Penelope the cat. How man of these feral cats are being sexually harassed by all of those skunks wanting to take their mon cheri's away to the Casbah? :-)

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Quite right Kentucky, that was my first thought, too...if you have access to trapped skunks and you have a "neighbor" who needs to learn not to leave food out, the course of action kinda suggests itself.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rusty said...

Shoot the feral cat lady.
Problem solved.

Rusty said...

Or.
Trap the feral cat lady and release her in a town many states away.
I admit it's the most humane answer, but then there's still a chance she'll find her way home.

Lucid said...

Reminds me the time I saw a little old lady feeding bread crumbs to the mice that lived under the subway tracks at Park Street station in Boston. She dumped a couple handfuls and about a dozen cork sized rodents appeared.

mikee said...

Fernandinande: Congratulations, you read my comment correctly. Apparently it was just a Whoosh! noise going right over many others' heads.

JAORE said...

Yeah, trap and release. Aren't you just oh, so humane. Nothing like "solving" your problem by giving it to someone else. And, as mentioned, if these other sites were short on cats, rats, or skunks there would be more cats, rats and skunks there in short order.

Plus, it does not work. I have a neighbor that routinely traps squirrels. She has her husband transport them to a site pretty far away. But (surprise!) her numerous old, oak trees remain filed with squirrel nests. It's like advertising a vacancy in a $200 per month, three bedroom apartment in a prime location in NYC.

Feral cats are a real problem. Neutered barn cats can be helpful but are such a minuscule number they are not a real solution.