Give them an inch and they’ll take it!

Yesterday I gave up on my belief that I can make a positive difference with respect to wildlife after one of my chipmunk pals ingested poison on a neighboring property.

I want to be an “influencer” but not in the arena of nonsense like “buy this wrinkle filler” or “click here to get a discount on my favorite $400 t-shirt, I’m so obsessed!” I don’t make any money from this. I simply want to spark an interest in wildlife. I want people to fall in love with their own backyard, so to speak. I do this because those living, breathing intelligent mammals who experience pain, fear and suffering deserve our respect and kindness. They’re the underdogs and I will always be in their corner. It’s been that way my entire life. The insect poster child of pollinators, the Monarch butterfly, is essential to our survival. Their population has declined more than 80%!

Someone I know who bought my book Wishy the Bookworm Chipmunk fell in love with him. He would bring it up every time I saw him and tell me it brings him a lot of joy. I asked if Wishy inspired him to see the chipmunks in his yard differently? His entire countenance changed into something somewhat demonic as he said: “Oh, you don’t don’t want to know about the things I do to them!” Seriously. I walked away.

The sweet chipmunk who visits me got into rodent poison put out by a pesticide company on a nearby property that has an issue with mice in their basement. I do not fault anyone for doing what they need to do to keep a mouse infestation out of their home provided it’s effective, as humane as possible and highly targeted. The thing is, placing poison outside a home will NOT solve the problem but will assuredly kill innocent wildlife that will ingest it. When a rodent or any living creature eats the poison and then a bird of prey or other predator eats that rodent it, too, will be poisoned.

I was devastated imaging her suffering in her burrow due to the anticoagulant in the poison that assures a slow, painful death that can take up to three days. I have a very good relationship with this homeowner, I consider them a friend and vice-versa. We spoke and we reached a very nice agreement. The outside poisonous bait traps were removed (they were incorrectly told by the pesticide company that it wouldn’t harm wildlife) and in turn I hired a good friend, a contractor who does new builds and renovations, who will do what REALLY works: inspect their home for points of entry and seal them up with spray foam and steel wool. Of course keeping pet food and other attractants in rodent-proof storage is essential. Other things include removing bird feeders and trimming low-hanging branches that come into contract with a roof.

While in some ways I live in a bubble on my Certified Wildlife Habitat I can’t control neighboring cats, pesticide applications that kill off pollinators, general pollution and the like. I do all that I can to reduce them by trying to influence those who contribute, but I’m learning that what I can do seems so very little.

I was so heartbroken when my dear little friend wasn’t waiting outside for me first thing yesterday morning in her usual manner knowing she had entered and left a bait trap. I fired off a series of unanswerable questions to Wayne about life in general as we sat in our sunroom hoping to see her. I told him I was getting out of the chipmunk “business.” I was inconsolable. Then another chipmunk friend came to take some seeds from me (I never leave any out, it’s always on-the-spot feedings). His cheeks were completely stuffed when I offered him a peanut. He fiddled with it a bit before shoving it into his cheek so far out that I went from doom and gloom to uncontrollable laughter in a New York millisecond looking at his face. Although I didn’t get a pic the image will be with me always. I can’t break away from loving them! Next I spotted an earthworm crawling on our paved walkway. With a stick I gently relocated it to a raised garden bed where I watched it slowly make its way under. I can’t explain why I feel more satisfaction from that than other more socially esteemed accomplishments. I’m a freak that way.

I came across an article early this morning about a former Navy Seal, Mark Matzeldelaflor, who finds healing in nature and saving Monarch butterflies:

“I realized there’s so much healing in being outside in nature, getting your hands in the dirt and doing good work.” Last year, the 37-year-old turned that realization into a nonprofit organization called Guardian Grange, which aims to use nature to help veterans cope with trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues that come with transitioning back to civilian life.

In the article is this quote from Matt Forister, a professor of biology at the University of Nevada:

“Insects are pretty good at taking advantage of any bit of land that isn’t polluted or destroyed,” he said. “If we give them an inch, they’ll take it.”

Maybe my “preaching” and posting pretty pictures won’t “take” with the people I encounter or anyone reading here, but it will matter to those in my tiny circle. Give them an inch and they’ll take it! Every inch matters! I realize now that it is I who is also benefiting from the small inches I can give. The joy is in the giving and educating, even if there seem to be more losses than wins.

Yesterday when I approached the sunroom after helping the worm I could see Wayne through the window. He was pointing and smiling! I turned around and there was my dear friend! She’s alive! For those wondering how I know who is whom all chipmunks have unique markings and personalities. She has a tiny bald spot on her forehead between her ears and she ran right up to me! A victory that means the world to a little chipmunk and me.

A cherished signed vintage Marine Corps recruiting poster my ex-husband gave to me back when he was on recruiting duty in the USMC. No worthy goal is easy!

8 thoughts on “Give them an inch and they’ll take it!

  1. Dear Averyl,
    ….pffff…close to crying…
    My name is Heidi and I live in The Netherlands. We don’t have a lot chipmunks here but I do share your love of all little creatures in our small garden and nearby woods.
    Last week I discovered your blog and since then I’m reading back into the past ( now at August 27, 2018 )
    Love it!!! It feels like meeting a soulmate.
    Keep on “preaching”! Every inch DOES matter!

    Ps: excuse possible language mistakes.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had a squirrel who we called Mamma, because she was pregnant when we first started to feed her by hand. She came into our apartment three times. First, she pulled the screen door open to get to the almonds I had stored there. When I put them away, she went searching into our kitchen. My wife screamed and the poor squirrel ran into the screen trying to get out. Much later I was sitting at the dining room table and she perched onto the chair next to me. We later moved, but I still miss my squirrel friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Just read your Sep 26 post. I had tears.
    I am constantly battling with our neighbors who want to destroy every critter and habitat around us. From shooting chipmunks and squirrels to poisoning coyotes and deer — it is a hard battle. We live in a small town really close to Atlanta and the urban sprawl is occurring. We live in an older house in an older part of town but as new people move in, remodel the older homes, they totally take down all older trees and clear out any large bushes. It seems they want our street to look like a subdivision. YAK! We leave a large part of our yard natural — much to the dismay of the various “yard nazi’s.” We love our critters running around, eating and living. We have kept our big trees so have an abundance of possums and squirrels. We have left our big over grown bushes because the deer sleep under there during the day.
    I feel having nature close to you is so important. As I said we live in an older home and mice just love old houses. We had a mouse problem. Once we filled all the holes with steel wool, we live trapped our mice and took them way out to the horse stables and let them go. It took several weeks of daily – sometime twice a day — trapping but eventually we go rid of them. It was a commitment but one we were willing to make to save the little guys. (They are so cute — the little brown mice with the big round ears.)
    Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Pat, how horrific and heartbreaking! I am shocked and dismayed by that kind of behavior. I am so sorry to hear about this! Thank you for all you are doing!!! God bless you!!!! I am so glad to know you are out there spreading love and offering protection of the creatures in all the ways you can.Thank you for sharing this here and your experience with your humane approach and success!


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