If you reside anywhere near Lincoln, Nebraska, we offer a word of caution for the holiday season: If you ever thought about filching a fir tree from a city park, college campus or other property for decorating your home, you might want to reconsider.
That’s because it’s common practice for park and property managers around the city to spray their spruce and other evergreens with a potent mixture of animal urine that's guaranteed to make a Christmas decidedly un-merry for chainsaw-wielding n’er-do-wells.
Hunters and trappers have a long history of using natural scents, including animal urine, as both an attractant and cover when pursuing their quarry. And for the past 15 years or so, innovative landscapers in eastern Nebraska have found certain natural animal scents can also prove as a highly effective deterrent against holiday grinches who have designs on pilfering pines for their personal holiday decorations.
Every holiday season, the City of Lincoln Parks Department buys 4 gallons of fox urine from a trapping supply company, mixes it with glycerin and water and sprays hundreds of evergreens. While the treatment remains fairly odorless outside in the cold, “when they take it inside, they definitely get the full benefit of the fox urine,” parks supervisor David Alder told the Lincoln Journal-Star.
“The fox urine smells like skunk. And this year, we added a little bit of skunk essence to it, so it’s a really good batch,” Alder proudly reported.
Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner sheriff recommended the procedure for the private sector, along with some cautionary signage.
“If there was a sign that said, ‘Hey, these trees have been sprayed with fox urine,’ nobody in their right mind would ever take it into their house,” Wagner said.
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City, the campus landscaping crew has been successfully utilizing a fox-urine and glycerin concoction for the past 15 years.
“It is fine when it is outside,” landscape manager Kirby Baird told the campus newspaper, The Daily Nebraskan. “But once it warms up, you can’t have it in your house for more than 5 minutes.”
Apparently, the word about the urine-scented trees has spread across the campus like, uh, a bad smell. Only one tree has been cut in recent years.
“It smells just like what it is,” Baird said.