DEAR JOAN: I was interested to read in the your column that trapping wild animals and releasing them elsewhere was illegal. Virtually every pest control company offers -- and charges handsomely -- for this service. In my neighborhood, raccoons tear up the lawns, and we can and do easily hire a pest control company to trap them live and remove them to a galaxy far, far away. So are you saying that all these companies are breaking the law? And are you saying that releasing the animals elsewhere is illegal but killing the poor things is OK? Really? I think I'd rather break the law.
DEAR DAVID: This will startle some readers, but that "galaxy far, far away" is actually more like a black hole. Trapped animals are taken away and euthanized.
The state created the release-or-kill laws to prevent a host of problems caused by relocating animals.
Let's say you've got a raccoon destroying your lawn and beating up your dog. You don't want it in your yard and your dog is getting a complex so you buy a Havahart humane trap or hire a pest company. The raccoon is caught, the dog is relieved, but now you've got a wild animal in a trap. What to do? You drive a few streets away to a nice park and release the raccoon, who now becomes someone else's problem.
What's more, you don't know it, but the raccoon is ill. Now that illness has been carted several blocks away and has infected other raccoons and creatures. What's more, the raccoon was a female and she had four kits waiting at home for her return. What happens to them?
Furthermore, the raccoon is now in another animal's territory and has no idea where the food and water might be. Studies have shown that relocated animals die within two weeks. And yes, people do rehabilitate injured animals and release them back into the wild, but they know what they're doing.
My advice is either secure the yard, which I know isn't easy and in some cases even possible, or learn to live with wildlife. Just don't use traps.
If you care that animals are killed, find a wildlife control company that focuses more on exclusion than extermination. They're out there.
DEAR JOAN: I had an strange experience with an insect recently and wonder if you have any clue as to what it was.
I was about 10 feet away and saw this large bee-like insect divebomb into the dry mud in an area of my yard. It would dive from several feet above and then dig furiously with its "paws" making dirt fly; then in a few seconds, it would fly up and fly in circles of about 6 feet in diameter, sort of checking out the area.
It continued at this for several minutes and I began to think with dread that this creature would make a nest or some abode here. I called my husband to drop a rock nearby to scare it away and it worked, but I am puzzled about what type of creature this was.
It was at 2 to 3 inches long and half as thick, wings like amber stained glass. Sorry that I don't have a picture but it was so unique in size and strength I'm hoping this would help identify it.
DEAR LYNN: You describe it as bee-like, but I believe it is a bee -- a ground bee, and nothing to dread. Ground bees are solitary creatures and don't live in colonies.
Most of them don't sting unless someone tries to drop a rock on them, and even then they usually turn the other cheek and fly away. If you let the bees be, you'll be rewarded in the spring with a thriving garden they've pollinated.
Contact Joan Morris at firstname.lastname@example.org.