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Night-time varmints ripping up lawns in Bible Hill

Gerald MacKenzie of Bible Hill uses a grass rake to remove some snow to show the damage to his front lawn. For the past several weeks he has been trying to figure out what has been digging up his turf. Harry Sullivan/Truro Daily News
Gerald MacKenzie of Bible Hill uses a grass rake to remove some snow to show the damage to his front lawn. For the past several weeks he has been trying to figure out what has been digging up his turf. Harry Sullivan/Truro Daily News

BIBLE HILL, N.S. – Gerald MacKenzie is perplexed.

What the heck has been digging up his lawn?

“It always seems to be overnight,” the Bible Hill resident said, of growing patches of torn-up turf in his front and back yards.

For a month, MacKenzie has arisen a couple of times a night to take a peek out his windows and hopefully glimpse nocturnal intruders.

“I always look out because I said one of these times I’m going to see something. But I never see nothing.”

MacKenzie talked to others experiencing similar issues. And while the possibilities of skunks or crows digging for worms or grubs have been discussed, MacKenzie has his doubts.

“It’s quite a mystery, isn’t it?” he said. “It’s a mystery to anybody I talk to, because nobody sees skunks.”

Nor has he caught any scent of the tell-tale skunk odour, he said. As for crows, MacKenzie feels there is too much disturbance on his lawn for that to be the source.

“It’s probably 20 feet square,” he said.

“And out back it’s nearly as big as here. It just looks like someone took a rototiller to it.”

Given that description, Terry McLeod of McLeod Nuisance Wildlife and Guiding Services said he knows exactly what MacKenzie’s late-night visitors are.

“There are raccoons doing it right now because it’s still warm weather,” McLeod said. “They’re getting a lot of grubs out of there.”

McLeod said he has received a number of calls to remove raccoons this fall, especially in the Halifax area. He’s certain that’s what has been visiting MacKenzie’s property.

“Guaranteed it’s raccoons, not a skunk,” he said.

McLeod uses live traps to capture the raccoons for removal to another location. However, the real threat is having the critters taking up residence in the home.

“The raccoon’s going to move right into your house.

They get up in the soffit and dormers and they make a little home for the winter. And then next spring you’ve got a whole little family up there.”

If that happens, McLeod said a homeowner could be forced to have all the insulation removed from their attic; there’s also potential for damage to the electrical wiring. The attic would have to be cleaned out, sprayed down and re-insulated at an average cost of between $2,000 and $3,000.

Conversely, McLeod said his service call runs about $150 plus tax.

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