From time to time I discover that there are field mice who get into my house. I wouldn’t mind except they get into food and leave their droppings in the house. My practice has been to use live traps and then release the mice outside. If I release the mice close to the house they just come back inside, so typically I walk about a mile from my house and release the mice into an open field.
This morning I caught a mouse. I didn’t have time to walk to the field, so I took the mouse to the university where I work and released the mouse into a garden area with plenty of landscaping. When I got to my office my secretary inquired about my progress with the mouse (I had previously told her that there was a mouse getting into the food donations I set aside to take to the Wat to give to the monks). When I told her I released the mouse on campus she told me that the maintenance folk place kill traps in campus buildings so if the mouse gets inside it might be killed. I asked her what was I supposed to do? She said that I was just moving bad karma from one place to another.
I should add that my secretary routinely uses kill traps to contend with house critters. She lives in a rural area and routinely has mice that get into her house. She says that snap traps are the best method because the mice don’t feel any pain. She also sets kill traps for the gophers that get into her yard.
Sorry, I can’t bring myself to set out kill traps. Using live traps and then releasing the mice seems much more consistent with the Buddhist precepts I follow. Once I release the mice I don’t have much control over what happens. Assuming there is the risk that the mouse I released this morning gets into campus buildings and is killed by a trap, would the field a mile from my house be a better option? I live in a rural area. I regularly see birds of prey swoop down into fields and snatch small rodents. I also frequently see mice run across rural roads where they can get squashed by vehicles. Who is to say the mouse would have better odds in a field versus in a landscaped portion of a university campus?
Any advice for what to do the next time I catch a mouse in the house? What are “best Buddhist practices” in this area, to borrow a tired phrase from corporate higher education?