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Saturday, October 9, 2010

How To Catch A North American Raccoon. Maybe.

Thought y'all could used an update on the raccoon situation. After my brilliant failure at the whole trap-and-relocate-under-cover-of-darkness thing, I was content to just Let Things Be. Hey, she's cute, she's fuzzy, she wasn't getting into the garbage (no doubt because of the availability of cat food) and she didn't seem to be rabid (wary of people, respectful of cats). Plus, she wasn't bumbling around in the attic, though we did hear her scuttle across the roof a few times. Raccoons play hell with attics. I've never been in my attic, but I imagine I'd notice if a raccoon was thumping around on the ceiling.

Unfortunately, my idiot neighbor, who just incidentally is an idiot, has become privy to the situation, and as is typical with this guy, he is Not Happy. No doubt the raccoon is also in his yard, maybe getting into his trash, and probably splashing around in his illegal, unpermitted, unfenced pool. Or maybe just chewing on stuff, I don't know. In any case, he came out of his house a few mornings ago (the neighbor, not the raccoon) and asked Joan if the raccoon was ours. As in, a pet. Joan narrowly missed exclaiming, "What the fuck?!" which was what I would have done, too, probably. I mean, honestly, who would keep a raccoon as a pet?! They have sharp teeth, sharper claws, and they're really fierce when they don't get what they want (as my somewhat mauled bin of external cat food can testify.) Idiot Neighbor went on to say that since she worked for the city, she should get rid of the raccoon. Joan pointed out, politely I might add, that she worked for the city library, which isn't generally known for handling wild animals (unless you count homeless persons). "Well, can I shoot it?" Idiot Neighbor asked. Now he's asking Joan for legal advice. He must have us confused. Joan told him, correctly, that it was against the law to fire a gun within city limits. He stomped off in disgust. Now that we know his M.O., which begins with him wanting us to do something for him, usually at our expense or at least not at his and then ends with him stomping off in disgust, he's not as intimidating. But he's so not my favorite person. He's also an idiot, in case I haven't said that already.

However, there's still a risk that he might actually shoot the animal. If there's any justice in the world, he will miss, put a bullet right through the side of his illegal, unpermitted, unfenced pool and render it useless. Still, I don't want Madame Raccoon to get shot, so after a series of phone calls around the Metroplex, I finally got hold of a guy named Matthew Evans, whose company, A Wildlife Professional, gave me instructions on how best to trap a raccoon. Once we've caught her, they will relocate her to a wildlife preserve, the location of which he was not at liberty to reveal but it was about twenty miles from here, and he does have a license to do so. The charge will be $75. Eminently reasonable, says I. (His email is if you live in the DFW area and you have a problematic raccoon.)

So here's what you do. Get a Havaheart trap from Home Depot or Lowe's (we already have one from all that feral cat trapping).Get several cans of sardines and cat food. Open one of the cans of sardines. Pour the oil outside the front of the trap and on the bait pan. Put the can of sardines, open but otherwise undisturbed, clear in the back of the trap behind the bait pan. Open the can of cat food. Scatter the cat food around the mouth of the trap, inside the trap and leading past the bait pan. Weight trap down with bricks, rocks, bungee cords or anything else that will hold it still.
Set trap. Go inside. Wait.

If you catch a cat, or something else, let it go. Cats are too smart to get caught twice. Usually. If the raccoon is able to tip the trap or otherwise get to the sardines without getting inside, try again with another can of sardines. The law of averages says sooner or later she will not be able to get at the sardines without going inside. Try this for a week. If unsuccessful, and only if unsuccessful, give Matthew a call and proceed to Phase II.

So last night I set the trap with sardines as instructed. This morning I opened the door at six a.m. to find not a raccoon, but one very confused cat inside the trap. It wasn't one of my externals; it was one I'd never seen before, a calico with a tabby ringed tail (not unlike a raccoon, actually). Only after I'd opened the trap and she'd shot across the lawn like she'd been launched from a gun, probably never to be seen again, did I notice that the can of sardines was outside the trap, empty. I got an immediate mental picture of Madame Raccoon reaching between the bars of the trap, grabbing the can, passing it hand to hand to herself down the length of the trap and hauling it outside to munch on her treat. She also knocked over the external food bin again, just for good measure.

Well, that's okay. It's the first night. I'll try again tonight and see what happens. Hopefully my idiot neighbor will be passing out drunk around eleven and won't remember he's supposed to go raccoon huntin'. Did I mention he is an idiot?


Cele said...

I actually was expecting you to find idiot neighbor inside the trap. Hoo hum.

Jen said...

I don't think he would fit. But if he did, I'd cheerfully pay the $75 bucks to have him tagged and relocated.

Marcia Wall said...

Good luck!