The Squirrel Story page 2 - Trap and Deport

I had built a trap years ago to catch a possum that was getting my tomatoes before I could pick them. We adapted it to squirrels by making it a little bit more sensitive.

I had to remodel the trap twice in 2008, first because some squirrels were actually able to escape from the trap, and then again because we were getting too many false positives (the trap would close with no squirrel inside), and too many false negatives (the squirrel could get in the trap and back out without springing it.

That old saying about engineers always building a better mouse trap - well this applied. I developed a scale-based trigger whereby the squirrel would crawl up a ramp to get the nuts. When the ramp tilted based on the squirrel's weight, it pulled down a coat-hanger, which then allowed a specially slotted license plate fragment to slide freely. A heavy lock on the end of a string provided the force to slide the plate, which then pulled another coat hanger out of an eye bolt, allowing the trap door to fall shut.

We started catching squirrels. My first instinct was to summarily execute them, but this idea was not very popular with others in my household. Instead, we would take them out west and release them in the woods far, far away from my lights.

I figured I might catch 4 to 6 squirrels that frequented our yard. But they kept coming. Six, seven, eight, nine - we've got to be close to catching the last squirrel - ten, eleven, twelve - are you sure these squirrels aren't finding their way back home again? Thirteen, Fourteen, and eventually a total of 17 squirrels caught and deported.