Pass the Coyote Urine, Please

January 12, 2011

The garden situation has gone from bad to really bad pretty quickly. Upon our return from Bulgaria, I discovered that our back vegetable garden was essentially decimated... a little pile of onion tops were the only evidence left of the dozen onions that had been standing proudly just a week earlier, broccoli and cauliflower were pathetic little nubs, and there wasn't one sign of the huge thriving clump that had been parsley. Our raised bed was a muddy, lumpy disaster and it left me wanting revenge. 

A few days ago a friend and I started poking around in the numerous holes trying to figure out exactly what we were dealing with. Within a few minutes we detected movement at the bottom of the raised bed and then a darting furry body part was sighted at other side of the bed. We stepped inside and as I frantically tried to pull up more information on shrews because that was my original thought, my friend stood by the door and excitedly noted that there was now one in plain sight on top of the bed. And then another. And they weren't shrews. They were voles. Fearless, hungry voles and that was not good news.

A quick on-line search and the bad news got worse. Turns out that voles are baby making machines. Reproducing and multiplying at a speed that would make any rabbit envious. Suddenly, it began to dawn on me that we could be dealing with a serious number of voles. In one month they had essentially destroyed our largest vegetable bed and they had dug up an impressive area of our front yard, I hated to think about what the second month of vole invasion would bring. 

Further internet searching led me into a gruesome area of spikey traps, poisons, and repeated warnings that voles are voracious. You wouldn't believe how many desperate and angry posts there are on garden forums about these little critters. And then there was coyote urine. That is one of the most popular recommendations for deterring voles and preventing future colonies. Never thought I would be comparing the costs of coyote urine or spend time pondering how coyote urine is collected. Can you train a coyote to pee into a cup? To save you google searching time click here or here (the names of these sights are at least worth a peek).

The other popular non-toxic suggestion was to get a cat, but with Noah and Adam both being allergic to cats that is not going to happen unless we can temporarily rent a vole hunting cat. Anyone have one of those we can borrow? Or other vole hunting suggestions? Or some extra coyote urine you want to share? This just goes to prove that our life isn't all about magical European travel adventures and sunny Sicilian beach trips. It includes garden-destroying rodents and predator urine.
karen said...

yikes! These voles sound terrible!!! I'm sure our cat Bianca would do wonders for your problem -- she is a feline hunting machine (mostly specializing in lizards and small birds, but i'm sure given the chance she'd also venture into the world of voles!!!)
PS have you been to see the Modigliani exhibit yet at Castello Ursino? If not we should go check it out!

Stacy said...

Oh my. No suggestions here but I'll be very interested to see where this goes...

I never saw one icky, frightening, pesky thing in Ireland and I often think about and laugh now that I'm back in Florida with snakes, spiders and fire ants. No voles.

likeschocolate said...

I am not really sure what a vole is, I guess I need to look it up, but we had moles in Michigan. We ended up placing traps for them because they were destroying our lawn. It worked though a little emotional. Good luck!

se7en said...

I have to follow the comments here - it is going to be nothing short of intriguing!!! We get porcupines that decimate your garden in stealthy silence - you wouldn't even know they were there... but you blink and your entire garden looks like some sort of construction site - well short of the scaffolding!!!
And baboons come in troops and eat the entire vegetable garden roots and all in the space of about two seconds... nothing quite or stealthy about them!!!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Karen! Can you bring Bianca over one day to play? And yes, to the Modigliani exhibit. I had actually hoped to make it there this past week, but it didn't happen. How does next week look for you?

Stacy, I don't miss the snakes or the fire ants...glad we aren't dealing with those here!

Kelleyn, oh no...your whole yard?

se7en, baboons and porcupines!!! yikes! I guess I really shouldn't be complaining! :)

Jessica said...

It would be cool if you could get a couple of pet owls! ;) Good luck fighting those voles. I had never head of them, but the don't seem like much fun. :(

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Jess, I like the owl idea. We have one that occasionally swoops through our back yard...wish I could put up a sign with an arrow: "Voles this way".

Dawn said...

Sorry about the voles but this did make me smile... Crazy!!
We had such huge problems with critters in the garden at the ranch in Cali... and we also had a pack of coyotes pass thru daily! :)

adrienneberard said...

Lucia,
I had moles in my garden when I was still living in Lafayette. I read somewhere that human pee works just as good, so I kindly asked any male that came over to visit to use the bathroom outside. I also buried lots of peeled garlic around the garden. I don't know what did the trick, but they eventually went away!

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