No fish story here…

black masked invaders treat themselves to dinner at Payne house

By Melinda J. Payne

I don’t know about you, but I am really feeling this winter’s weather in many ways than one. First of all the warm weather means the furnace has not come on much, resulting in lower energy bills,  and secondly, the mild temperatures have allowed me the opportunity to spend time in my yard, something that brings me much joy. I have been able to get a jump on clearing out weeds, pruning the rose bushes, tilling the flowerbeds, raking leaves, etc., before spring arrives and the low crawling varmints get to moving. I’m not afraid of snakes, but I would prefer to view them from a distance rather than up close and personal. And, trust me when I say I have been cozy with snakes in recent years, mostly the non-poisonous versions. 

I have a koi pond that tends to attract a variety of creatures — ducks, geese, heron, raccoons, bears, groundhogs, opossums, skunks, deer, fox, birds, dogs, cats — you name ‘em, they are in my backyard. We built the pond because of my fascination with the fish. Lord knows I didn’t think about all the wildlife and domestic attention it would attract. The other day I looked out the window and there stood three deer drinking from the pond. At the other end was an eclectic flock of birds, taking a bath. The fish had gone into hiding beneath the rock ledges within the lower level of the pond. The birds and deer don’t concern me. Neither do the ducks and geese, dogs and cats and even the three bears that were trapped near my home this summer.  But those doggone fish eaters such as the coon, give me a fit. Last year raccoons cleaned out my pond before I could figure out where the fish were going. They just kept disappearing.

Raccoons are omnivores with an opportunistic diet. They will eat almost anything they can get their paws on. In urban areas where wildlife and fresh vegetation are limited, raccoons will more likely eat human food and invade trashcans. The majority of their diet consists of sweet foods like fruits and vegetables, but frogs and snakes are among their specialty items, too. It seems to me the better belly filler would’ve been the snakes that find their way to the yard.

But, no, at my house they went straight for the koi. It only takes one time to lose a pond full of fish before you make some drastic changes. Over the winter, I covered my pond with screen. Now when those beady-eyed fish killers converge on my pond this spring, they will be in for a surprise. The free lunch is over at my house!

Other Articles From The March 2017 Issue