Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Great Raccoon War of 2011

All of us know what pains these distant cousins of cats are. Likewise, we all know how intelligent they are too.

Since we live on the border of a state park, and our property is considered a wildlife sanctuary, raccoon invasions are an ongoing dilemma. We do our best to tolerate them despite their method of marking territory, which is using defecation, a stinking and in every other way unappealing leftover of their nocturnal visitations.

Obviously -- for your neophytes -- this tells us what they had for their pervious meals should we want to know. But I’m not a raccoon MD so would rather not know. Okay, I do not know of any raccoon MDs, so it is possible they might not want to know either.

We also live in one of the many areas suffering a severe drought. We also fill a birdbath daily, and have three bird feeders available.

Raccoons do not pay much attention to bird feeders. Too much trouble I suppose, to climb the pole for very little reward. They love the birdbath, and wash God only knows what in it every night. The water is always black the next morning.

Several days ago, one of these creatures woke me at 2:30am crying. They sound like a small child calling for help in the distance. They also cry out every few minutes for up to an hour or more.

After a wrecked night, I decided to use our humane trap and get rid of him or her.

The following night, the trap functioned perfectly. We carried the raccoon in the trunk of our Honda to a large wildlife refugee miles away, and off he went, acting surprised at the new chance for continued life.

Unfortunately, he must’ve been a she. The next night, a louder crier kept me up half the night. First he was calling from a good distance, then got closer and closer.

The next morning, sure enough, he left a steaming, or it would’ve been if this was winter, pile to let us know what he ate, that he was here, and, I imagine, what he thought of our removing his lady friend.

“Okay, pal,” I announced with the usual feeling of human superiority. “You want to be with her, I’ll make it happen!”

Cleverly, I loaded the trap with half a can of stinky cat food, some kind of fish concoction if you need to know, placed far into the trap in a plastic cat dish -- nothing but the finest for our annoying friends -- and smugly went in for the night.

About 10:30pm, I heard a series of noises, which I deduced came from the large metal and wire trap. The final sound seemed to be the door slamming shut.

I slept well.

Awaking early, I went out to rub in my success, let the little creep know what I thought of him and his lady friend’s 2am serenades.

The trap was empty.

The bowl was missing.

Somehow, he managed to crawl into the trap, reach over the pressure plate that, were he to touch it, would drop the door, and removed the entire bowl . . . backing out.

We found the bowl later in the day tossed aside like a drunk might an empty beer can.

I felt speechless. stunned, and began to wonder just how smart are raccoons? Do they really want humans to be aware of their amazing abilities to think through a problem and find a workable solution? Are they next in line in evolution’s plan when we vasty superior humans kill ourselves off as we seem to be in a hurry to do?

“I’ll teach you,” I announced feeling that I needed to prove that humanity ruled, that we are the top of the food chain.

With due diligence, I drill two holes in the bottom of the food dish, ran a wire through them and wired the darn thing to the bottom of the trap.

That night, I filled it with the remainder of the cat food, brushed off my hands over the set trap, and called, “Bring it on!” Kind of feeling like GWB on the aircraft carrier, or was that-- never mind.

Almost exactly twenty-four hours later, the same sounds as the previous night filled the quiet evening.

“Yes!” I thought and slept well again.

This morning, ready to haul his furry butt away to join his lady friend, I strode confidently out to the humane trap, and discovered the door open, the bowl empty and a neat pile of, yup, feces.

“Sonofa,” I started, stopped and had to smile.

“All right! Let the Raccoon Wars begin pal! One of us will be here in the end; the other, well your lady friend is waiting.”

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