Ask Erin: Pesky squirrels and trashy neighbors | Kitsap Week

Have a question? Ask Erin. - Richard Walker
Have a question? Ask Erin.
— image credit: Richard Walker

Dear Erin,
I was looking out my kitchen window when I saw my dog kill a squirrel in the neighbor’s yard. I know my neighbors are still at work and won’t know my dog was the squirrel murderer.

Do I have to clean up the remains? Or can I leave it for them?
Squirreled in Silverdale

Dear Squirreled,
Grab a shovel and a pair of gloves. You need to take responsibility for your pet.

I’m concerned that if your dog is quick enough to kill a squirrel, what would he do to a neighbor’s cat or small dog? It sounds like your dog needs to be contained in your yard.

While we are on the subject of dogs, let me remind you the importance of scooping up after Fido. Be a responsible pet owner and pick up every time your dog does “his business.” Nothing like stepping in a pile of leaves, only to find out they weren’t leaves after all.

* * *

Dear Erin,
What’s the safest way to keep squirrels out of my bird feeder?

They have even snuck their way into one feeder we have that is squirrel proof!

We set up a feeder just for them, but they pig out emptying theirs right away and then attack the feeders for our fine feathered friends. The poor birds go without while our squirrels get fatter.

We tried putting petroleum jelly on a feeder with a skinny metal pole. That worked for a while — and it made a very entertaining YouTube video — but I fear we could endanger the little thieves, and not all our feeders are on skinny metal poles.

Any suggestions?
Irritated in Indianola

Dear Irritated,
Perhaps you need to borrow Squirreled’s dog?

I took your question to Scott Pomtier, owner of The Wild Bird in Poulsbo.

He does not recommend using petroleum jelly. Petroleum can cause damage to birds’ feathers (as well as harming other wildlife). There are more organic products specifically made to make the poles slippery. They are made from soy and coconut oil. Although, with the amount of rain we receive, you may have to frequently reapply.

While birds lack the ability to sense spicy foods, squirrels can taste the heat. There are hot pepper products you can add to your seed to keep the birds happy but will taste like a five-alarm chili to the squirrels.

Baffles and cones on poles can keep the squirrels from accessing the feeder. However, squirrels have an 8- to 10-foot jumping range. If you are using a pole, make sure it isn’t near a tree or other structure that the squirrel can jump from to reach the goods.

Pomtier said that a high-quality, weight-sensitive feeder is your best bet. Those type of feeders sense the weight of what lands on it, allowing access only to the avians.

Keep us posted on what works best for you!

* * *

Dear Erin,
Every week my neighbor leaves her garbage cans at the curb, long after trash day passes.

Each time I drive down our street, I get annoyed at her unsightly garbage cans. I know in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t a big deal. But the sight of her cans makes my heart race.

I once stopped my car and drug her cans down the driveway for her. I was hoping she’d get the hint, but the next week she kept them out for five days.

What should I do?
Trashed in Tracyton

Dear Trashed,
I agree. This isn’t a big deal, but oftentimes it’s the little issues that annoy us until we want to scream.

What is going on with your neighbor? Does she work long hours? Has she been ill, or is she elderly? There could be many reasons why she doesn’t remove her cans in a timely manner.

She also may not care.

Try talking to her in an honest manner. Don’t accuse her, but rather be light-hearted and put the blame on you. “I don’t know what it is, but the sight of trash cans on non-trash days drives me bonkers.”

See what her response is. Hopefully, she’ll take your feelings into account and will remove the cans in a timely manner.

Otherwise, you might have to practice calm-breathing exercises as you drive down your street.

* * *

Dear Readers,
I’ve received some questions regarding boundary issues and current technology.

Is it OK for coaches, youth leaders and other adults to correspond via email or text, directly to the teen?

What about Facebook? Should your teen be “friends” with the adults?

As an adult, do you want to be Facebook friends with your children’s peers?

Where should the line be drawn?

Send in your comments and thoughts. My contact information is listed below.


— Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo, WA. 98370 or e-mail

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