Metro-East News

Trapping wild critters is easy. Getting them to leave is the tricky part.

It really is astounding how well wildlife has settled in here in town.

You may not see the animals because often they come out at night, but raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, deer, ducks, geese, turtles and even foxes are around. Occasionally I see a fox crossing Mascoutah Avenue or South Belt East near Belleville’s Walnut Hill Cemetery.

Familiarity breeds unconcern, at least on the animals’ parts. As they become more used to us, they realize we really are powerless against them. Like the time a couple of years ago a groundhog casually strolled across my patio, under the chair I was sitting in and out the gate without even breaking stride.

Another time, a young raccoon somehow became trapped in a dog kennel in my backyard. He was cute, but he needed to come out of there. However, he wasn’t moving. He was willing to cling to the kennel. Better the place he knew than something unknown that this human had in mind for him. Or I guess that was his thought.

I finally got him out of there with a stream of water from the hose.

Lately we have been trying to trap a feral cat in the hopes of getting it spayed since it had a litter of three kittens it abandoned in a rainstorm.

Anyway, we had a trap inside our fence, baited with cat food and on the first night caught a cat. We put it with the kittens and it really didn’t seem interested. After looking closer, we realized it was not the mama.

2020 Wally Spiers

So we reset the trap and hoped for mama to come along this time. When I went out in the morning I saw a young opossum looking at me from inside the cage. I opened the cage door and stood back.

The opossum clung to the wire cage and refused to move. I gently poked him (or her — hard to tell with ‘possums) with a small stick and it just looked at me like that was fine, poke me all you want, I’m not leaving this safe cage.

I picked up the cage and tilted it down to slide the animal out. It clung fiercely to the wire sides. Finally, after a little shaking, it fell out of the trap and ran off.

We have reset the trap often since then and never caught anything else, proving, I guess, that feral cats and opossums learn about traps pretty quickly. Or maybe that we are just incompetent trappers.

I don’t know what the moral of the story is. Maybe that sometimes it is better to give up the status quo (like being caught in a trap) and try something different, like running to freedom.

Or more likely it is that I am a sap who always gets stuck with abandoned kittens.