Melting snow reveals critter damage in yards

Voles burrow under the snow to eat grass and roots during the winter, leaving a winding trail.

The snow is melting and grass is beginning to show, and so is the damage left behind from critters under the snow.

The experts at Critter Control said theyâ??re getting more calls as animals are getting desperate for food.

People are calling in about vole and mole trails, as well as people trying to get rid of deer, skunks, and raccoons from their yards.

Now that the snow is clearing out, some people are itching to get their lawns back in shape.

â??In order to rake, I've had to shovel the snow,â?? said Judy Baker of Lake Ann. â??But it's so nice to look out and see where the snow has melted, so I start raking.â??

Baker is ready for spring, but there's a problem: â??The critters are having a really good time.â??

As the snow melts, many people are discovering designs in their lawns left behind by voles.

â??It looks like somebody with a teeny weenie lawnmower has run around and mowed trails all over your lawn in a curved crooked thing,â?? said Gretchen Voyle, Horticulture Educator with MSU Extension. â??If you're starving, you're going to really be chowing down on people's yards because there's no food to eat.â??

To fix the trails, take a rake to your lawn and spread the soil out so the grass can grow. For the other plants starting to sprout, take extra precaution.

â??Everything. Brand new sprouts, whatever, a rabbit's going to take it right down,â?? said Joe Patterson, Critter Control technician. â??The long winter makes them that much more hungry. So when it melts, there they come.â??

â??If you're a hungry rabbit and you see a tulip, it's like being offered the biggest hamburger ever,â?? said Voyle.

â??I have a few crocuses that have bloomed and sometimes the deer do get to those,â?? said Baker. â??The irises are starting to perk up and I have daffodils. The moles are popping up.â??

Experts suggest using a repellant to keep the critters away from your budding blossoms, but say to keep in mind that the wetter the weather, the more applications will be needed.

â??As far as deer, you can fence it off, same with rabbits. Typically, trapping is easier to get them and remove them,â?? said Patterson.

Voyle said this year's damage will serve as a reminder for what exactly you need to protect before next winter.

â??When you're talking about rabbit fence, they're always talking about putting it 18 inches above the expected snow. Well this year it probably could have been five foot tall,â?? said Voyle.

You can buy repellants to put on your plants at Wildlife Management Services in Traverse City or at stores like Menards or Home Depot.

â??Hopefully it's starting to get a little greener,â?? said Dave Wilson of Traverse City. â??I spoke with a few people who know they have a fair amount of sticks to pick up and dead grass to rake up and get ready for spring. I think most of them enjoy that kind of work.