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ImageI'm not much for outdoor living. My green thumb is non-existent. The backyard, and its annuals, perennials, crab grass, and abundance of weeds, is my husband's territory. But I do know my backyard wildlife. From my comfortable wicker patio chair (the armchair critic has chairs everywhere!), I watch the wild birds flock to my carefully placed bird feeders, and enjoy the antics of the baby bunnies, and the very squirrelly squirrels. I fill the feeders with seed and suet (the cardinals prefer the sunflower seeds, and the goldfinches love thistle), and I get a kick out of the nose-diving blue jays that race the squirrels to the peanuts that I toss into the yard, or the chubby groundhog who eats the entire peanut, shell and all. In fact, I kind of like Mr. Groundhog. He's cute, round, and comical to watch as he waddles along the perimeter of the yard, stopping to smell the flowers, and taste the petals.

My husband does not agree.

There's nothing comical, my husband says, about the groundhog defiling the yard with tunnels of dirt. Apparently, Mr. Groundhog's home has a "front door," and a "back door," and both are rather wide to accommodate his ample girth (the groundhog's, not my husband's). The groundhog holes, which are not "all over the yard," as my husband claims, don't bother me. Mr. Groundhog, in my opinion, is just a backyard critter, not the "rodent" my husband regards him. When my husband found a new hole dug rather close to the foundation of our home, he panicked. Mr. Groundhog was apparently dangerously on the move! I examined this new blemish of displaced soil upon the weeds...I mean the yard...and did not share my husband's concern. In fact, I had my doubts that this hole - a bit too small, a bit too sloppy, and quite off Mr. Groundhog's usual path - was the chubby fella's handiwork. Unbeknownst to me, in an effort to ward off the inevitable groundhog invasion, my husband set a trap (humane, of course).

Early Sunday morning, he woke me up (my husband, not Mr. Groundhog) to inform me that the trap had worked. He had caught something! Indeed, he did...a small, black backyard critter, with an alarmingly white stripe down its back.


I could swear I heard Mr. Groundhog laughing...

Now we had a problem. How were we supposed to get close enough to the prisoner to release him, I asked, without being doused with his rotten perfume? No worries, my husband said. He would use a pole - or something - to pull open the trap, and release the critter. Mr. Skunk, I knew, could spray his stinky stuff fifteen feet, and could do so six times if he felt like it. And, believe me, after being stuck in a cage all night, digging furiously, without success, for freedom, odds were that Mr. Skunk would definitely be so nastily inclined.

This was a job for experts. I looked up the telephone number of Animal Control on the internet. Apparently, Animal Control only controls animals Monday through Friday, and only those creatures that are injured. Any wild animal on a homeowner's property, the website advised, was the responsibility of the lucky homeowner.

So, who you gonna call? (And on a Sunday morning, no less!)

Catch & Release Animal Control. That's who.

Call it women's intuition, or ESP, or luck...whatever...I had saved Catch & Release's advertising flier that had arrived in the mail earlier in the week. The flier promised 24 hour emergency service (Mr. Skunk was an emergency in my book; I don't usually like to smell!), from a family owned business with 20 years experience. At that moment, my husband and I didn't care about the firm's years of experience. Whoever was willing to come and deal with Mr. Skunk, without charging us big bucks, was hired.

I made the call.


Within two hours, two very nice, very capable women arrived at our home to check out Mr. Skunk. Mr. Skunk, they said, was a baby, and the hole located so close to our foundation was his home. Skunks are solitary dwellers, we learned. Thankfully, there was no Mama Skunk, or Daddy Skunk, or skunk cousins, or skunk in-laws, or skunk neighbors, lying in wait to even the score with my husband. The animal control specialists skillfully tossed a blanket over the trap, picked up the cage, put it in the truck, and drove Baby Skunk to a new home, far, far away.

What's the moral of the story? First and foremost, I think, is that homeowners should leave the trapping, and the releasing, of backyard wildlife to the experts. Secondly, never throw out those Val-pak coupons; you never know when you will need one. And thirdly, leave Mr. Groundhog alone.

If you have a backyard critter problem, and need an expert to humanely do the catching and releasing for you, call Catch & Release Animal Control at (848) 228-0919. They offer 24 hour emergency service, are family owned and operated with over 20 years experience, are licensed, bonded, and insured.


And they're not afraid of skunks.

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