| 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.
Leonard G. Lee