adventures
Comments 22

“You should get your gun licence”; words I never thought I’d hear, nor consider

Hello from the glorious Australian rainforest, full of fecundity and native animals. But we also have feral pests, and that’s who I’m battling at the moment.

This young female koala was photographed 2 days ago on my driveway: I want to offer a safe place for her to grow up and breed.

I’ve written before about my challenge to catch & dispose of feral cats wandering our property; my wildlife camera also caught footage of a fox. One wild cat can kill 1,100 animals/lizards/birds a year, and foxes have been named as one of the most destructive invasive species in Australia (introduced in the 1800s by British colonists who wanted to continue the sport of fox hunting).

My horror on seeing one in my garden has been increased with the news that some foxes have learnt to climb trees, seeking baby koalas (NO!), and sugar gliders or possums, who are all tree-dwelling (and previously therefore thought to be safe from this nasty apex predator).

NOT ON MY WATCH FOXY.

So I’ve lent my camera to a couple of neighbouring property owners, and spoken with two local trappers, and gathered intel: we’ve found one of many dens a particular vixen is using to raise 2 cubs. But she’s smart: she has decoy dens, a food cache den, AND moves the cubs around every few days (‘cunning like a fox’ indeed).

Active day & night, which is unusual as nocturnal

Last week we fumigated 2 dens, and the trapper turned to me, as we waited in case a fox ran out, and uttered the words I never thought I’d hear addressed to me:

‘You should get your gun licence. Only takes a couple of hours of training, then the application process… best way to kill foxes is with a gun at night.’

It’s almost hilarious. I’m a longterm vegetarian, consider myself a pacifist, and have always hated the very existence of guns. I despair at the ongoing tragedies of school shootings in America, and am tortured by the images of child soldiers with guns almost taller than themselves.

And yet. If I had to choose between a young swamp wallaby, or a possum, or any of my gorgeous ground-dwelling birds, and a fox…

This has been such a weird year hasn’t it? Expectations have fallen by the wayside; plans have dissolved; previous ‘normals’ have vanished, while we continually reinvent our brave new messed-up world…

Perhaps me morphing into ‘Trapper G’ is just another unexpected turning of my wheel of life, and I should simply surrender to it?

I just don’t honestly know if I could pull a trigger.

Any thoughts or personal experiences to share? Please do.

In gratitude for lifelong learning & curiosity, G xO

22 Comments

  1. I don’t think I could pull the trigger, I couldn’t look into a fox’s eyes and do that… I fully appreciate they are destructive, and can be classed as pests, but by the same token they are intelligent, curious and beautiful animals. It would be a real struggle for me to kill one.

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  2. Personally, I’ve lived almost all my life in a city so have never had reason to consider a gun. Which is a good thing, because they scare me! That being said, I know that people who live in the country sometimes have to have one in order to protect their own animals. Jon Katz has written a lot about his move from New York City to upper rural New York state, and he said he had a hard time accepting it when the locals told him he needed to get a rifle and learn to use it. Until the time a rabid animal (I can’t remember which kind, but it’s in one of his earlier books) came into his farm yard and tried to kill his dogs. He shot it and killed it, and was grateful he had listened to the advice of his neighbors.

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    • Yes. Guns scare me on so many levels too, but indeed, living in the country and truly being responsible for the land and its inhabitants requires new skills & demands. Thank you for sharing your experience Ann, I appreciate it as always 🙏🏼 G

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  3. I grew up in the country and learned to use guns. Haven’t had one for forty years, living in cities and suburbs. Still, I’ve realized I would have one if I moved to the country. In this particular case, it’s sad because the foxes just don’t belong in the Australian ecosystem. Where I live, we’ve been celebrating seeing them as they go after rodents and rabbits, but in your place, the poor things don’t belong. Get yourself a good rifle (longer distances and better sights than a handgun)–I’m sure someone can recommend one. Or you could see if you could pay someone to take care of the issue without your firsthand participation, I guess. Here we have scheduled deer hunts in public parks because of the overpopulation–you could schedule with your neighbors to make sure nobody was surprised…

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  4. How confronting! I don’t think I could do it. I love foxes and cats though support your stance 100%. I’d rather trap but then what? They are pests in Australia Afterall. I met a lady who homes or rehomes wild / stray cats recently. She’s made a massive difference in the last year alone of something like 400 fewer of these roaming about the foothills near Willunga SA. I donated to help her wonderful charity. I’m with you on protecting the beautiful native animals on your property.

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    • Thanks love- it’s a big ethical dilemma indeed- I love cats, and foxes are so cute and clever, BUT… they’re both in the wrong place at my place. I’m so glad you could support that charity- what a great service. Love to you xx

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  5. I was perhaps in my early 20’s when I first laid hands on a rifle, and I felt physically ill. I think that comes with growing up over there where guns really are anathema to almost all of the population. Not so over here.
    Part of it is our ever-present neighbour to the south, where someone can legally have a gun strapped to their hip, in plain sight (just like in the westerns) and order a big mac at McDonalds! I find that truly horrifying! The mentality, unfortunately has percolated across the border over time.
    And the other part is that even though, like there, most of the population lives in cities, there’s a significant percentage of that population who grew up in the country where the beasties that can kill you are an order of magnitude bigger than a tiny little redback in the toilet seat! 😀
    The world is rushing headlong towards a future where frightened, angry, greedy, people, who already are on edge, will only be pushed further and further into extremism, both in thought and action.
    Because we’re two women, who aren’t in their fifties anymore, who are planning to travel to all sorts of interesting places next year, where the mores of polite society may or may not hold sway, we’ve been having some interesting conversations about passive and active ways we need to have in place to protect ourselves.
    So yeah, I’m considering where to move my boundary about such things, and the consequences of such too.
    This much I’ve already sorted out – to protect Mrs Widds or myself, I wouldn’t hesitate, to not starve, I also wouldn’t hesitate, but the rest is still a gray area.
    And perhaps that gray area needs to be there, making sure I judge each circumstance on its merits, not be swayed by what has gone before.
    Perhaps the first step for us both is to begin the process, learn how to handle the weapon properly, demystify the process, and take it from there.
    On a completely different note, it’s a bit after 8pm here on Christmas Day as I’m writing this. There’s at least 30cm of snow on the ground and more on the way. We’ve had a sumptuous feast, just the two of us, exchanged prezzies, and had an altogether wonderful gentle loving day.
    I hope you’ve had a similar day, and all is well with you and yours. 😀 … and that you scored some really cool loot! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this long considered comment. Yes, I agree with you completely- the US baffles me with their gun culture- and yet perhaps the future will call for a more active self-protection? *shudders
      But yes: perhaps I should start the training…? There are fox reports here nearly every day, so I’d be busy IF I could pull the trigger! I just don’t know…

      I had a very peaceful Xmas Day at home just with my beloved- we had a sublime feast for Xmas Eve with family, then again Boxing Day, so it was nice to just stay home and prepare food and relax 🙂 No gifts exchanged, as agreed 🙂 And it was tropically humid/showers/thunderstorms, just as you’d expect for Xmas in Australia 🙂 Blessings on you both for 2022 ❤

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  6. I’m like you scared of them. Unlike my partner who’s from the country. Only learnt from him after we’ve been dating for awhile that he’s got a gun license and several guns/rifles stashed away. It’s in a gun safe somewhere.
    I was like what? My colleague at work was like at least it’s in a gun safe. She grew up with them in the hallway closet.

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