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Smell the Coffee: Critters feeling game

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My story last week about a wild rabbit that attempted to take ownership of my garage prompted a few notes from readers who've experienced wildlife problems of their own.

"My family has a camp on the Elk," wrote Randrover. "Since my husband died, I don't get by there as much as I used to. I went up a few weeks ago for the first time in about a year and found that a beaver had been trying to help clear all the scrubby tree growth off the bank, except this beaver must have a really short attention span. He would only work on a tree for a little while before he'd quit and move on to something else.

"I'm starting to wonder if maybe my husband wasn't reincarnated as a beaver. He never finished any of his projects either."

A lady from St. Albans wrote about the raccoon problem they're having in her neighborhood.

"At night, they tore into my bags of birdseed and made a holy mess," she said, "so I decided to pour the seed into one of those big plastic buckets that cat litter comes in. That night, I heard a horrible racket on the porch and when I turned on the light, two raccoons were working together to try and drag the bucket off the porch. When I opened the door and clapped and hollered, they didn't let go of the bucket -- they just pulled harder."

Another said she puts her trash out in those little Kroger bags, knotted at the top. She heard a ruckus outside and when she looked out, saw a raccoon was rummaging around in her trash.

"I yelled at her to shoo and she jumped down and started lumbering off, but she was hanging on to those bags. She had them draped over her arm like a purse."

As for me, I have yet another rabbit tale, one that I hope will also serve as an explanation (and apology) to my neighbors.

After relocating the wild male rabbit, I decided to allow our pet female rabbits to go back in the yard once again. I leave the door to my screened-in porch open, and my three long-eared appreciators of comfort generally hang out there, stretched out on the furniture.

But a few days ago, our little bunny, Foo Foo (who was apparently tired of scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head), decided to wiggle under the fence and explore the front yard. I chased her back and covered her hole, but she either found or made another and was soon dining again on the clover that I pretend to have deliberately cultivated to cover my lawn.

Since there are no dogs that run loose in our neighborhood and little traffic, I left her alone, figuring a little rabbit wouldn't be capable of causing a ruckus.

It was after dark when I heard a shriek coming from in front of our house. I hurried outside to find a frightened woman pressed close to her husband. They'd been out on a walk when "a living shadow" shot right between them.

I was pretty sure it was Foo. She seems aware her solid black fur serves as an invisibility cloak at night, and I suspect she enjoys the element of surprise. I could've explained this to the people. Probably should have. But most of my neighbors already think I'm weird and these folks are new, and the whole idea of them believing they'd seen a living shadow was too fun to undo.

Instead, I sat on my porch for a bit and watched. Wasn't long before another lady came by walking two dogs. Darned if that rabbit didn't shoot out from behind a car, straight at them, then up the hill and under a bush. The dogs were so stunned they didn't seem to know what to think, and then when they got a whiff, they about yanked the poor woman's arm off.

I tried to lure Foo home, but she was apparently having too much fun. Right about the time I gave up and headed back inside, I heard an alarmed voice say, "What the hell?"

She's back on the porch now, but for how long I can't say. She's hare today, but likely gone tomorrow.

Reach Karin Fuller at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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