Pitts: The racoon relocation project
The average cartoon watching child in this country has been led to believe that the raccoon is a polite, intelligent, highly hygienic member of the animal kingdom. Well, I am here to tell you that pound for pound raccoons are the most devious, cunning and disgusting creatures on earth.
What Rocky Raccoon and Ranger Rick failed to convey to the kids is that raccoons tip over trash cans, walk in wet cement, dig up gardens and have been known to kill small dogs. For three months now I have been trying to keep them from digging for earth worms in my newly planted lawn.
I must admit that I first tried poison but I soon discovered that any poison that would give a field mouse a mild belly ache has been taken off the market. All I succeeded in doing, in putting out poisoned grain, was to attract four more families of coons. I could have tried to shoot the masked bandits but they work after business hours and I didn’t feel like staying up all night every night. Besides, I had more compassion than that.
So I borrowed a “Warm and Fuzzy, Humane, Safe and Easy Wild Animal Trap” from a neighboring rancher. They are so named because they take into consideration the welfare of the animal. And you don’t have to feel guilty about using the humane trap because you won’t catch anything anyway.
Oh, that’s not quite true. The first night I loaded up the trap with the recommended bait, dog food. Sure enough I caught the neighbor’s dog. The second night I switched to cat food and caught a cat. I quickly learned that the secret to using the trap was to stay up until all the other animals had gone to bed for the night and then put it out. This required staying up till 2 a.m.
For weeks I was foiled by the coons. I would wake early and rush to the window to see if we had caught any of the pests who were destroying my lawn. And every morning the results were the same. The bait would be gone, there would be several new holes in my lawn and the trap would be empty. The escape artists knew how to use the trap better than I did.
You can imagine the excitement in our house the morning we thought we caught our first Houdini of the night. The elation was short-lived however because it turned out to be a red fox who just happened to be in a very bad mood after having spent the night in cramped quarters and getting showered periodically by my automatic lawn sprinklers.
My wife loaded the fox in the truck and we took it far away. To let the fox loose, I locked myself in the cab of the truck and with the trap on the ground I opened the trap door with a hoe handle. This was only because I didn’t want to get fleas on me and was not because I might have been scared to death of the cute little snarling creature.
Then one night that was blacker than a stack of stove lids we heard the trap door slam shut and we both ran to the window. We couldn’t see very well but could make out the distinctive black and white colors of the coon. We went to bed congratulating ourselves thinking that we would relocate the coon in the morning. At first light we realized that something was not quite right. The animal in the cage was black and white all right but it was not wearing a mask.
“You caught a skunk,” my wife yelled. And I’m afraid her assessment was accurate.
I am glad to report that we have solved the raccoon problem. They don’t come around our front yard any more. Neither do door-to-door preachers, salesmen or house guests. We are left with just one small problem however. How do we get the skunk sitting impatiently in the borrowed trap on my front yard out of the trap without getting sprayed?❖