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2002/03 Gardening Catalog Cover   2002/03 Gardening Customer Letter
 
Print Catalog Cover
 
Dear Customer,

Protecting your garden from insects, birds, and four-legged animals is becoming increasingly difficult. Not that many years ago, larger marauders were dispatched with a form of frontier justice that is no longer acceptable or even legal. With today's nearly uncontrolled growth in some animal populations, it becomes ever more difficult to shepherd a garden from seedling to harvested crop without supplying more of it to the local wildlife than to yourself.

Various solutions to the problem are available. They range from complete fencing and biological controls through humane traps to psychological warfare like the spooky nodding owl on page 93 of this catalog. These are all meant to be humane methods, but they all have varying degrees of humanity and effectiveness. Live trapping is less a solution than a method of problem transferal. After you trap and remove an animal, a farmer or some other gardener usually has to deal with the animal in its new location.

It is generally considered kinder to frighten predators away from a garden than to live-trap and transfer them. Either is definitely kinder than the frontier solution. However, research indicates that even a low level of fright might sometimes be fatal. For example, #4 connotes bad luck in some Asian countries (Japan and China being two of them), just as #13 is generally considered unlucky in the West. Recent studies of Asian populations have shown cardiac-related mortality rate increases ranging from 13% to 27% on the fourth day of the month compared with the average of the other days. Either #4 is truly unlucky or fear of it being unlucky is sufficient to increase the mortality rate. The latter is assumed to be the case.

Does all this have any meaning for gardeners? Probably not. Whirlgigs, pie plates, flashy tape and scare owls may frighten birds and animals, but they will not cause the sort of brooding apprehension observed in people who hold superstitious beliefs. In fact the fright-and-flight phenomenon in the animal world is daily, if not hourly, routine for most of them. However, before implementing the relatively benign deterrent of fright, you may want to be even gentler and first try reasoning with the predators. If you choose this course, I would suggest that it is best done out of earshot of neighbors and relatives. They might not completely understand your theory of gradual escalation in defence systems.

Yours sincerely,

Leonard G. Lee
President

 
 


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