Watching too many 80s Movies
Is it just me, or does it sound like they may have been watching Caddyshack after a late night session and had a "great" idea at the end?
Senior parkies in the American city of Spokane are facing a barrage of criticism over their decision to exterminate troublesome tree-noshing squirrels by blowing up their burrows using fuel-air "bunker buster" type explosives. It seems that Spokane's Finch Arboretum, well thought of among park aficionados, faces an escalating …
It seems to me that flaming explosive instadeath is probably one of the most humane ways of killing these little guys. Certainly faster than gas or disease and less bitey than predators. Seems like a pretty good solution.
And it involves explosions. Not as awesome as a fly-killing laser, but still a generally good idea.
Don't even think about releasing mink to control anything. They will prey on everything. Birds, shrews, frogs, neighbours' pet rabbits etc will be eradicated in a couple of seasons. And controlling mink when they can decamp to people's gardens is in a whole different league from sorting out a few hundred instances of Chip'n Dale.
Only small drawbacks surely... I mean, when the Mink population gets out of hand we just need to release some... erm, what preys on Mink? Lions? Yes! We release a whole death squad of Lions into the park and surrounding environs.
As the Cold War taught us, the best way to solve any problem is simply uncontrolled escalation.
Western America is awash in burrowing rodents. Rangers and farmers don't like them because of their burrowing propensities, and in the good old days, would transport sick and ailing animals from one colony to another as a form of biological warfare. The disease was often bubonic plague, which is now endemic the world over wherever you have a population of burrowing rodents. (The original site of bubonic plague was in the eastern Himalaya, whence it was carried to the steppes of northern Eurasia by returning military expeditions of the Mongols and spread therefrom via burrowing rodents.)
When you read of an animal population suddenly exploding as the one in Spokane is, you can conclude that the normal ecological checks and balances have been upset. I can't say if the arboretum offers some specially congenial features to these squirrels, or if it's because the same goddamn farmers and ranchers have eradicated the squirrels' natural predators: avian raptors and assorted carnivores.
An outburst of squirrels in a normal woodland is no great shakes: one tree is much like another. But in an arboretum where each and every tree is a valued specimen, the depredations of these critters can cause intolerable damage.
Wikipedia has a good, though short, article on Ground Squirrels, for those interested in adorning their vocabularies with some fancy new words. Sciurid pie, anyone?
History will record that it all began on the fateful day when the squirrel-lovers squared off against the tree-huggers. Throw in a few crazy Islamists and Neville Chamberlain waving a piece of paper and you've got yourself the makings of a future History Channel documentary.
I lived out west for awhile, and I assure you, these pesky varmints are nothing but trouble. About the size of a small Guinea pig, the tear up everything around them. We affectionately called them whistle pigs, as per the whistling noise they make ALL THE TIME. It was great fun to trap them in 2 1/2 piping that was waiting to be laid, stick an M-80 in one end and block it off. Instant rodent cannon!
In the last house, I suffered (a) regular mole incursions to my lawn (b) do-gooder neighbours, who had opinions that were not based on actually having to deal with the moles.
I tried all sorts of stuff including various "humane" solutions, most of which caused some moles to die of laughter, and the rest to move in on me.
What worked in the end: have you discovered rook scarers? Out in the countryside, us locals can still buy serious bangers intended to emulate a 12-bore shotgun sound. (You poor nannied townies of course can't be trusted with toy firecrackers on fireworks night.)
Find a mole run (a series of mole hills in a more-or-less straight line). Dig a mole trap (scissors-type preferably) into the middle one, observing precautions against tainting with human smell. Then dig into both end hills, put a rook scarer into the tunnel at each end, fire them off (cover your ears if you want to be able to hear afterwards). This deafens the mole (who then can't find food) - he then blunders about and stumbles into the trap and gets killed.
Result: 6 dead moles in first week of this method, and a number of complaints from do-gooder neighbours brushed off.
So shoot the buggers! Wait until they stick their cute little heads above the ground, and what's the expression? Oh yes, "pop a cap in their ass".
A little further north, we have a huge surfeit of gophers - I guess they're a similar hamimule. A very popular local passtime is "plinking" gophers - .22 rifles kept in the truck for precisely that purpose. OK, they might not like it in city parks, but fun is more important than safety, ain't it?
I used one of these last year to collapse rat burrows, the video really doesn't do the sound justice, it really does make the earth move darlin'!
Oh, and to the guy who mentioned flames and burning... You should get none of this. The idea is to have a perfect explosive gas:oxygen ratio and just a massive shock wave to collapse the burrows.
Also, this is a freakin' awesome method of rodent control. It's quick, pretty painless if done correctly, relatively clean and safe.ish. To the humans.
The only way it could be made better is with AC's uncontrolled escalation idea. Either that or we run the risk of creating a race of flame-retardant SuperMarmots by only leaving the more flame-retardant members of the species.
When they're finished in Spokane, they can come and sort out my property in Las Vegas. I've been battling against these improbably cute pests for years without success, as their numbers are constantly replenished from a rodent city on an inaccessible empty lot across the street. They're in my roof, under my foundations, and have a veritable apartment complex under my front garden. Every so often a mature plant keels over dead and I find all its roots have been eaten. They've even killed a tree. Gassing and flooding doesn't seem to bother them, and poison bait takes a bigger toll on the local birds. Somebody needs to develop a chipmunk myxomatosis.
Do what my father did to the rats living in the old rabbit burrows on the farm. Block up as many holes as you can find, back a truck up to one hole, connect the exhaust to the burrow with a hose and leave the engine running for a few hours. Most gassing techniques are "one brief hit" affairs which offer a reasonable chance of escape. If the area is HUGE then several trucks dotted around should do the job. When my dad used his solution they were finding dead and dying rats over a mile away from where the truck was.
he buried the moles alive to kill them. Surely collapsing a burrow on a burrow making animal is pretty stupid ? Yes, they might get catch in the initial blast but those that don't....
And as for using mink - snip them before releasing them. That way they won't reproduce, killing all in their path (the Aussies should really have done that with the Cane Toad but hindsight and all that...)
I thought a "Bunker-buster" bomb, was a bomb, that could penetrate (OooH!) earth and reinforced concrete, often due to a hardened casing, and other types with shaped charges in the tip to ease (Suit YOU!) the passage through solid material.
The explosive charge of oxygen and propane, has more in common with the air/fuel type bomb, such as the "Daisy Cutter" and suchlike. Or at least, I think so, I have been wrong before, you know.
Also, with this method of eradicating bothersome rodents, do we need to worry about a resistant population building up? I mean: An explosion-resistant rodent, sounds like a terrifying thing, can I be the first to .. root-eating overlords blah blah.
Paris, errr... anyway: Paris!
Oh sure, we put a man on the moon BEFORE we put a squirrel into orbit? But seriously, I think this is sheer genius, however, this only raises the stakes in the ever escalating battle between animals and human kind. Squirrels aren't the threat, it's the cows, deer, moose and other large herd animals that seem to just drop out of nowhere and kill relatively innocent people. Squirrels, moles and other small rodents are only the "intel". We need to be focusing on the bigger animals.
I'm not sure what made my day better, the article in itself. or reading the comments...
as an american who loves to blow the hell out of things, i am completely on board with this idea, and then using the sharks/lasers afterwards to get the survivors.
I just wonder what would happen if one of the squirrels got a hold of one of the lasers...
Paris, only because she wants the mink coats after they get done the "humane" killing by ripping apart the poor animals :)
you watch, someone will say she's in PETA or something, well, i'm not going to read the comments after i comment, so say what you want :)
We use Whippets. The redtail hawks line up to clear off the bodies when we're varminting.
In the past, I've used my Oxyacetylene torch, unlit, & a length of fuse, causing a similar effect to the Parks folks in Spokane. As a small child, I used my .22 to keep the same critters out of the family veggie patch, for 25 cents a head. I had to pay for my own ammo out of the proceeds ... Needless to say, after the economics lesson at such an early age, today I do my own books ...
To the folks calling these things groundhogs, whistlepigs, moles, etc. ... They aren't. They are ground squirrels. Kinda like grey squirrels, only apparently afraid of heights. Rats with fuzzy tails. Totally evil little buggers whose main goal in life seems to be undermining damned near everything with a foundation, and eating or gnawing on everything else connected to the earth, and then peeing & crapping on what's left. If they all went away tomorrow, I'd party.