Armadillos Tear Apart Camdenton Resident's Yard
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Armadillos Tear Apart Camdenton Resident's Yard

Date: October 21, 2010
By: Michael Langenberg
State Capitol Bureau

With armadillos in every Missouri county, there's at least one mid-Missouri woman who's asking for help.
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Actuality:  HARRIS26.WAV
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Description: "Sick and tired of them and I don't want to have to deal with them anymore."

Clare Harris of Camdenton has an armadillo problem.

For about two years they've dug up tree roots, cables and pipes in her yard.

They've created foot-wide holes...

Moved bricks.

Harris says the creatures have even made it difficult to walk around.

Actuality:  HARRIS20.WAV
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Description: "I can't even walk to my propane tank without just about twisting my ankle, falling in a hole. I have to have a certain path in the front on the side where I walk."

Harris says armadillos started coming when construction started by her house.

And there's not much she can do.

A few years ago, when she lived in the country, she could've shot the armadillos.

In Camdenton, that's illegal.

Camdenton Police spokeswoman Chasity Hodges says options are limited to stop an armadillo invasion.

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Description: "It's a bit aggravating for the homeowner because we are limited on what we can do."

Harris says she's spent almost $400 trying everything she can.

From grub and anti-insect killer ... to fences and traps.

She spread human hair over her lawn ... and even did the same with urine.

But nothing has stopped the armadillos from tearing up her yard.

State Conservation Department spokesman Jim Low says armadillos are known to do this.

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Description: "Armadillos are sort of like little armored pigs. They root up the ground looking for insects and grubs, and they can make a mess of a lawn or a garden."

Armadillos started moving north into Missouri about four decades ago to avoid starving.

And Low says they've made their way into mostly every Missouri county.

Hodges says they're making their presence known in her area.

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Description: "There is definitely a problem. We are having several- lots and lots and lots of calls on this problem."

Despite that, MU Fisheries and Wildlife professor Robert Pierce says armadillos won't cause widespread destruction.

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Description: "They're probably characterized more of a nuisance rather than a real economic loss because most of the damage is pretty localized."

So localized, Harris says the armadillos avoid her neighbor's lawns and target only hers.

Actuality:  HARRIS9.WAV
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Description: "I've even had friends of mine tell me that they see them walking down the street coming here. I mean, you know, it's- it's insane. It's just really crazy.

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Description: "I'm standing here at the edge of Clare Harris' neighbor's driveway. To my right in her neighbor's yard there is no damage, but to my left in Harris' yard five feet away there's a tree that needs to be cut down. Armadillos killed it."

Harris says she's afraid the tree will fall on her house after the armadillos weakened it.

While she plans on cutting it down, there's something else she can't cut all of...

Her lawn.

She says she can only mow a quarter of her yard because of all the armadillo damage.

The rest of it she has to weed whack by hand, which takes four or five hours.

Mowing her lawn used to only take 45 minutes.

Now, Harris is considering alternatives.

Actuality:  HARRIS14.WAV
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Description: "There might be parts of my yard that I may have to have graveled because I'm tired of dealing with them. Nobody, nobody wants to do anything to help."

Harris has reached out for help to animal control and the Department of Natural Resources.

She's had a damage control biologist test her soil, put up cages, and fence everything off.

But nothing has worked.

And she says no one is offering her help.

Except for a select few like Hodges.

Actuality:  HARRIS2.WAV
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Description: "She's very professional as well as personal. I mean I can tell that she really is trying to help me with this situation."

Aside from Hodges, Harris says she keeps getting passed around when she tries to find answers.

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Description: "I'm not saying I expect the city to pay for this or I expect anybody to pay for it. You know I would just like somebody to give a crap."

Although some aren't understanding, she says she's keeping a positive attitude.

Actuality:  HARRIS27.WAV
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Description: "It's at the point now to where you either cry about it or you laugh about it, and I choose not to cry."

From the state Capitol, I'm Michael Langenberg.