Groundhog problem? Try a little reverse psychology SOUTHEAST -- Sykesville * Eldersburg * Gamber

NEIGHBORS

May 25, 1993|By MAUREEN RICE

Sometimes you just can't win for losing. But then again, sometimes you do win, so it makes the whole game worthwhile.

For example, there are the groundhogs that happily eluded my dog all last summer. (I'm not at all sure the dog would have known what to do if she caught one, but she tried). They ate all the fruit off my trees, dug holes in every conceivable spot except where I might have chosen to plant something and, to crown it all, stared blatantly in our windows each evening as we ate our dinner.

I have a large heart, especially for wildlife, but the groundhogs finally got to me. So I got one of those traps that don't kill animals. When I crowed my intent to a naturalist, I learned that having a heart meant that I would be terribly cruel to these very territorial animals, which would certainly die if I tried to take them to another home (and who wants them anyway?). On top of that, it's against the law to transport wild animals because of the chance of spreading rabies.

You just can't win, I thought.

This spring, as the groundhogs came out of hibernation -- beneath my shed, porch and seemingly every rock in the yard -- I decided to catch them anyway, kill them and take them to Piney Run to feed to vultures.

I figured out how to use the trap. I baited it with tempting fare.

And I am still waiting for my first catch. I should be disappointed at my lack of success, I guess, but I haven't seen a groundhog since I set the trap. Maybe they're smarter than I thought. But I'm not complaining.

*

Summer. The enticing warmth, the scent of an outdoor barbecue, the delight of the summer activities -- swimming, badminton, the beach -- and carnivals. Yes, it's carnival time again!

The roar of the midway is coming to Gamber from Monday to June 5, with the Firemen's Carnival on the carnival grounds at Route 32 and Niner Road. The fun will begin at 6 p.m. nightly and end roughly at 11 p.m., except on Saturday, when you can enjoy the free spirit of the carnival from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. as well.

Parents, take note. Your children can ride all night for one fee. The nighttime fees will be $8.50, except on Tuesday and Thursday, when a $2 discount brings the ride-all-night feature down to a very reasonable $6.50.

"We don't sell individual tickets for rides," said Clarence Souders, who organizes the carnival each year. "On Saturday, our matinee (1 p.m. to 4 p.m.) fee is only $5, and there will be a lot of entertainment, too. We will also be giving away bicycles, girls' and boys' ".

Other attractions will include the Junior Firemen's 50-50 raffle, The Great $7,000 Cash Giveaway (first prize $5,000, second prize $1,500, third prize $500) and the Fire Company Special, a 1,000-pound steer. Even the Ladies Auxiliary is having a raffle, in which you can win patio furniture, a gas grill or gift certificates.

The fireworks, which start at roughly 10 p.m., are free.

For those who love country music, "Freewheeling" will play on Monday night, followed by "Roll of the Dice" on Tuesday, "Paradise Club" on Wednesday, "Steel Rose" on Thursday, "Branded" on Friday and "The Santmyer Family" on Saturday.

Bingo will start at 7:30 p.m. daily, so if you love to hear those numbers called, listen for the announcement.

The firemen, with the help of other civic organizations, will operate all concessions except the rides themselves.

"We have our own stands, and we rent space to the rides people," Mr. Souders said. "We try to keep it a community thing. Several of the local development associations and civic associations help us out, and volunteers are always welcome.

"It's your people, the good, hard-working people, that make you look good. They make this work, and we have a lot of very hard-working people."

*

Piney Run Nature Center is buzzing again, with new mail-order bees which replaced the unfortunate hive that succumbed to a mite infection.

"We're glad to see the bees back," said naturalist Deanna Hoffman. "The [Carroll County] beekeepers' association took care of ordering the bees for us, and Gary Wilmsen put the hive in."

The hive is enclosed, so viewers may watch the healthy bees at work without fear of being stung, Ms. Hoffman said.

If you go to watch the bees at work Friday afternoon, you may also watch Elaine Sweitzer feed the animals. This popular program is now held once a week, on Fridays at 4 p.m.

"I did it twice a month last year," Ms. Sweitzer said. "It was so popular it got out of hand. The animals were scared to death of all those people crowding close. We think if we run the program once a week, the crowds will be smaller, and everyone, including the animals, will get more out of it."

Each week the program will be a little different, depending on the needs of the various animals -- which include snakes, turtles, fish, owls and vultures.

"Each time will be a little different," Ms. Sweitzer said, "but each week I'll be feeding the fish, the garter snakes, the tree frogs, etc."

Scouts and other groups are welcome to participate, Ms. Sweitzer said, but she appreciates advance notice of a large group. "Anyone and everyone who wishes to come and watch is welcome," she said.

To arrange a group visit, or for more information regarding the free program, call Ms. Sweitzer at 795-6043.

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