Gopher’s forecast: Six more weeks of a nervous Dogamous Pyle, unless …

Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle in her spot, backyard sentry style.

Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle in her back porch spot, sentry style.

One of the more pleasant by-products of our week not in Syracuse, my dear wife Karen and I pretty quickly decided as we lounged around the cottage in Cape Cod, was the more relaxed state of Ellie B aka Dogamous Pyle.

Our beloved rescue mutt had dismissed the thought of our backyard gopher. And so she lounged on the lawn. She stretched on the back deck. She sat with us on the patio. She joined Karen on the hammock.

But now for Ellie B, it’s back home, back on guard dog duty.

This baby is full of  our stuff.

This baby is full of our stuff.

The elements in the backyard of our city neighborhood home of Eastwood are perfect for the gopher to hang out.

Our one-story, which we’ve affectionately bestowed with the nickname “Little Bitty,” needs every square inch of our shed.

The gopher's living room.

The gopher’s living room.

Snowy winters and wet springs mean the shed must be propped up on cinder blocks.

Those blocks give a crawl-space living room perfect for a gopher. (Skunks, too, which I’ve written about here previously with a crinkled nose.)

Perfect gopher food.

Perfect gopher food.

This gopher home sits just feet away from a furry animal smorgasbord, and the fence around the increasingly lush butterfly garden has slats narrow enough to keep out Ellie B but wide enough to allow in gopher boy (or girl).

A week or so before the trip to Cape Cod, I let the dog out around 6 a.m. for her morning business, to be quickly greeted by a barking frenzy.

I scurried out to find Ellie on this side of the garden fence, digging furiously and staring at the gopher, hissing defiantly on the other side of the garden fence, standing down not an inch. As I wrestled the dog with great effort across the lawn toward the porch steps, the stinking gopher chased the dog.

Safely inside, I googled backyard gophers, saw the mention of teeth, dog fights, courage …

This worked for weeks at a time after squirrels chewed holes in the porch screens the winters we were between dogs.

This worked for weeks at a time after squirrels chewed holes in the porch screens the winters we were between dogs.

Karen and I knew we must do something about our backyard gopher, for Ellie B’s peace and the sleeping sanctity of our immediate neighbors. The first morning back, the gopher’s head emerged from under the shed as soon as I let the dog out on the backyard porch at 6 a.m., so I walked Dogamous Pyle on a leash out front.

I wondered if the Critter Ridder that had worked pretty well against our porch rafter nemesis, the winter-chewing squirrels, would work if thrown liberally under the shed.

But when talking about the gopher with Good Neighbor Tim, he’d mentioned how others on the block who’d shared backyard grounds with the furries had purchased traps and then released them in the wild, miles away from the city.

Karen googled humane gopher traps and found a suitably sized contraption available at a nearby big box.

Here, gopher, gopher.

Here, gopher, gopher.

We pulled it out of its box, read the instructions.

I sliced a banana and cut up an apple, foods said to get gophers salivating, or whatever gophers do when they’re ready to eat. Stick out their littlest nail, maybe.

The food is in the rear of the cage, the spring-trigger door is loaded, the trap is in the butterfly garden, near the spot of the gopher-Ellie B stand-down.

The wait is on.

I know where I want to take the gopher to start its new life, yonder by Green Lakes State Park, far enough away from here that the smart furry can’t find its way back.

I must admit, though, that I’m not looking forward to actually having to release the animal from the trap. The trap box suggests to throw a cover over the trap to calm the animal inside. With luck, I will test my nerves and that statement. Tim said perhaps we can rig some wire to the door to allow opening from afar …

Have you ever had an animal that you didn’t want sharing your living space, and what went down when you did? Do you think you’d be able to humanely trap an animal and bring it somewhere in the wild for release? What would you do if you were in this situation?

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41 thoughts on “Gopher’s forecast: Six more weeks of a nervous Dogamous Pyle, unless …

  1. i have to say this reminded me of caddy shack! )))) sorry, i digress. best of luck on your gophenture, i’ve never had to move and trap an animal, but have an ongoing battle with the squirrels who are fed by my neighbor, but i’ll never say anything because he’s older and lost his dog and this brings him great joy. no one would know if a few of them were relocated though, would they?)))))))

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    • I hate to think that squirrels are so plentiful that relocation would be fairly fruitless, Beth. Gopher, I hope, is a more singular creature in my parts. And, sure, this gophenture (!) reminds me of Caddyshack, too!

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  2. You probably should consider placing teeny, tiny blindfolds on the gophers during relocations. This should ensure they will not be able to see the route back. *long pause* Bwahahaha! I had an elderly colleague (we celebrated his 80th birthday at work and he was still going strong!) who had a squirrel problem and used humane traps to relocate his furry yard denizens. He said he had about 15 tree inhabitants and it wasn’t until he had relocated 47 of them over the summer, that he caught on. Ha! What caused his sudden light bulb moment was a particular squirrel that had a piece missing from her tail, who was particularly clumsy and had been relocated 4 times. “Come one and all for a lovely breakfast and then a scenic tour of the area in a properly air conditioned vehicle. You and your family will be transported to a wonderful new neighborhood where you can spend the day socializing and napping, to return home early that same evening. Highly rated by all your friends and all who have participated. Tickets are free.”

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    • I do not think that I shall sign on as a squirrel tour car operator, Paul. There would be simply too many of them signing on for the trip.

      If our backyard mope takes the bait, I will, with draped cage but sans personal blindfold (on me or the furry denizen) drive him to a hospitable location.

      Thanks for your humorous add-on, as always.

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  3. My neighbor traps the coons here and moves them to another location. They have created a lot of havoc in the past, and finally someone is taking action. Have you ever seen the mess (as in poop) they leave behind in a barn? It’s GROSS! Wishing you all the LUCK! Love, Amy

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  4. Do you not have an old boss; possibly at the local daily; who might appreciate a gopher in his back yard? Maybe a Georgetown fan? One thing that’s cheap is castor oil granule. Castor oil granules neither kill moles nor kill gophers, the poignant scent simply drives the subterranean burrowers into other areas away from your Little Bitty. Like that UVA neighbor you don’t like. All you have to do is sprinkle them around the area / yard. BTW You can always put a skirt of treated lattice around the bottom of your shed to keep skunks out.

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  5. Ha,ha! “Here, gofer, gofer” – Love it! We have had skunks under our back porch. NOT a fun time. We had to call someone to professionally deal with that one. Can’t wait to see your pictures of Mr. Gofer in the cage prior to his release! πŸ™‚

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  6. I have a friend in Nova Scotia who lives on a lake and has a recurring racoon problem. He has a standing humane trap and release program in place–must be up to a dozen of the critters relocated by now.

    Good luck, and I hope that Dogamous P. gets some peace of mind in the near future.

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  7. You are too nice. Gophers are not endangered. Invite friends over, put on boxing gloves, and play whack-a-mole, like they have at the pizza buffet places. Except it’s free! Sorry, Mark–I think I have some latent aggression today. Good luck humanely capturing it.

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  8. Best wishes Mark! Did I tell you about the skunk that wandered into a neighbor’s house one night? Looking for who knows what…a sandwich, conversation, a drink? I found out because the neighbor was asking folks around the block if they had any suggestions for getting rid of the smell. Being the smart-ass that I am, I suggested closing his back door (it’s always ajar so his pets can come and go as they please). So I guess what I’m saying is it could always be worse, right? xoxo

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    • Oh, I can see Pepe LaPew sashaying through an inviting door left ajar for a house pet, I surely can.

      And your smart-ass comment was so deserved by the ajar-leavers, I say, Sandra.

      We have had skunk-spraying incidents with our previous rescue dog, the dearly departed Lissa, and it is the worst thing ever. How do you get the smell out of the house, you ask? You don’t? You launder every single thing and the stink stays until your nose shrivels up and dies a natural death. Oh, Sandra, I hated those two days.

      After the second time, I took a shower. I put on clean clothes. I went in to work. I got sent home by my boss and my co-workers all gagged.

      Awful. I hate skunks.

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      • Aye hermano! Lo siento! I would never be so callous if you had been the skunk storyteller. There’s a backstory on the neighbor in question but that’s for another time. I hate skunks too. Poor dear Lissa! That’s terrible! For all involved.

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  9. I like that you are trying to do this live removal, Mark! I also loved the way you described, Ellie B’s change while she was on vacation! She definitely got into the relaxed mode that you and Karen generated, Mark! I believe in capturing animals, my girlfriend got rid of a skunk with her little babies by paying a rather high amount of money to get them out from under her deck! I also know she struggles with her husband, with wire and caps over the different vents and avenues that chipmunks manage to get under her vinyl siding, into different places that just plain drive her ‘nuts!’ Hope all goes well, Mark. I am sure you will keep us abreast of things with the aggravating groundhog! Smiles, Robin

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  10. I woke up one morning and went to the living room. There was a mess of kid left behind TV snacks. Including a bag of Doritos lying open on the floor. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD I thought. I bent down to pick it up and saw what I thought was a mouse. I jumped back. GOOD thing. IT was NOT a mouse and it came flying out of the bag I had rustled. I started yelling. The kids started yelling. I told them not to come out. My young teenage daughter got all brave on me and wrapped her head in a towel. I was opening windows and the sliding glass door. Daughter says the bat landed on the fireplace cover. I went around, and had a cookie sheet in my hand. She had a Tae Kwon Do weapon in her hand, a long slender stick, about half an inch thick, three feet long. She held it like a baseball bat. I waved the cookie sheet at the bat, the bat flew up, and my daughter took one incredible swing, and knocked it right out of the sliding glass door. It flew home free.

    (*** Please note that no bats were hurt in the debattifying of our house. And no human was sent to hospital with cardiac arrest.)

    Best swing EVER.

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  11. LOL! Did the trap come with a complimentary Depends? Because I’d wet myself if I had to get too close to release that gopher if it had big teeth or anything! I commend your selecting the humane trap. That said, personally, I’d be calling someone else to come and actually transport and release it. Yes, I have had both snakes and mice a couple of times, and occasionally an opossum under the house. All of them send me running. Fast. Especially the mice. Nice post! πŸ˜€ Good luck!

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  12. I could use a new pet. Nah. Lou would attack him. Green Lakes sounds perfect. On the ride there, should you catch him, I would enlighten him a little bit with some wisdom. If there is more than one … you might need a few trips.

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