DEAR JOAN: Over a period of the past five days, a neighborhood dog (unknown to me) has left its feces on the same gravel area in our front yard.
After removing it each time, I watered the area heavily and sprayed a dog and squirrel repellent on it.
Aside from lying in wait very early in the morning with a shotgun, what can I do to persuade the animal to go elsewhere? I am at my wits' end.
DEAR RITA: I feel your pain. Nothing can ruin my day faster than spotting dog poop in my yard, unless of course it is not spotting it until it's too late. I really don't know how people think it's acceptable to allow their dogs to do their business in someone's yard and not clean it up, but apparently there are some folks out there who do.
However, there is a chance that it might not be a dog but a raccoon or some other animal that has no regard for private ownership.
Your best bet is to try to spot the animal, track down the owner and ask them to please clean up after their dog. Otherwise, chemical warfare will prevail. Dogs don't like the odor of citrus, naphthalene or ammonia. You can try spraying a citrus or ammonia spray, or putting out mothballs late at night so they will be fresh when your visitor comes calling. You also can go high-tech and put in an electronic deterrent
You may have to accept that it's going to happen and that, eventually, the animal will find a new spot.
DEAR JOAN: I would appreciate it if you could help me identify a bird. He has zebralike striped feathers and wings, orange on the back of head, and a black beak and face. He was pecking the branches of a birch tree, probably for insects. I took a photo and from a distance so as to not to bother him.
DEAR V.: That is a woodpecker, most likely a Nuttall's. California is home to 17 species of woodpeckers, but judging from the description and the photo, I think it's a Nuttall's. It's here year round and its range is fairly small. As you surmised, it was pecking the wood for insects.
DEAR JOAN: We have many squirrels in our yard. Is it legal to trap them in a cage and then let them go in a rural area, far from our home or any other home?
DEAR JULIAN: It is legal to trap them, but not to remove them from the property.
It seems rather odd, but that's the law. If you trap them, you have to release them where they were caught. Or you have to kill them, which I'm sure you wouldn't want to do.
The reason for not relocating wildlife is that officials want to prevent the spread of disease among populations.
They also don't want to have an animal plopped down in the middle or a strange colony where he may not be welcomed.
There also is a risk, especially this time of year, of taking a mother away from her helpless babies.
I enjoy our conversations through this column, but there's nothing quite like talking in person.
We can do just that from 6 to 7:30 p.m. March 19 at a special meet-and-greet at Maria Maria, 1470 N. Broadway in Walnut Creek.
Stop by, have some snacks, a drink and let's talk about pets, wildlife, gardening, the latest season of "Survivor," or anything you'd like.
I'll wrangle some co-workers to come along and add some variety. Hope to see you there.
Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at email@example.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.