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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Possum Guilt

The RRR tells a story of small scale violence. It starts with Jake. Jake farms the land on two sides of the cabin. Each year it's either corn or soybeans... this year beans. When he harvested them in October, there were suddenly tens of thousands of mice homeless and with their food source removed. And right there close was the Ranger homestead. They decided to move in. We knew the invasion had started when there were rustlings in the walls of the cabin and Mrs. RRR found mouse droppings on the bathroom floor. I opened up the crawl space and reset all the traps, baiting them with peanut butter. Then I went into town and bought a bucket of poison bait chunks. I have two feeding stations outside the shop and three inside and one about 40 feet from the cabin. In a day the bait was gone from all six locations. I kept putting out more... it disappeared. And more. I bought another bucket. But my conscience was prodding me. Something more than mice HAD to be getting my poison. When I went out with a flashlight and saw a raccoon waddling away from a feeding station, I knew I was hurting more than mice. I LIKE raccoons. They are the worse scamps in nature, but delightful to watch and I wanted no part in causing them miserable deaths. So I made mouse feeding stations from old buckets with firmly fastening lids. I cut holes big enough for mice, but too small for anything else and too small for the bait chunks to be removable.
A quick check the next morning showed the bait mostly intact, but nibbled at and mouse droppings in the buckets. I had succeeded. And I prayed the raccoons did not suffer. But this afternoon I went out to the shop and there found a very sick possum, properly spelled "opossum" lying on the shop floor. He had been at my bait before I sheltered it and was now dying. I have no love for possums. They are nasty little rats. Eat carrion and only fight when cornered. But I hate to see anything suffer. I went to the house and got a .22 and scooped up the possum and took him in a pail out to the woods to a secluded ravine. Laying him on the fallen leaves, I apologized for his suffering and ended it quickly.
A plea to Ranger Readers. If you MUST put out mouse and rat poison and I know many of us must... take the time to make bait stations accessible only to the target animals. Our Creator made us stewards over all creatures. We have the power of life and death to them. Let us not misuse it by making any creature suffer unnecessarily.


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