Monday, May 9, 2011

The damned raccoon - it's not just us

When I last left you all, I was trying to figure out what the heck to do about the raccoon that destroyed a portion of our back porch room.  We have a contract with a pest management company and I figured that raccoon was nothing if not a pest so I gave them a call.  Our contract covers regular household pests - ants, bees, silverfish, mice, rats - both inside and out, so I didn't think it could hurt to ask them about the raccoon.

No dice.  Raccoons are much bigger than what they can handle.  They did recommend a professional wildlife trapper, so I called him and he came out that very day.  He checked out our roof and agreed that it was most likely a raccoon.  He told me that they tend to go places that have some kind of animal scent, so it was likely that raccoons or something had lived in our roof in the past.

He also told me that the was unlikely to come and try the roof again.  According to him, because the raccoon had tried to get in (pretty vigorously) and failed, he'd just move on and look for new real estate.  He told me if we wanted to hire him, it would cost us $375 for three weeks of trapping/monitoring.  They'd set traps and come check them every few days, or immediately if I reported that one was full.

Nelson and I had already called our roofing contractor to come out and look at the damage, and we did want the raccoon trapped before we had the roof repaired, but this guy did not seem to think the raccoon would be back.  He recommended the we wait a week or two and see if it returned so that's what we decided to do.

Less than a week later, when I pulled up the shades in my and Nelson's bedroom after making the bed, guess what I saw?  Our front porch roof had been torn up!  The damage was much less significant, but pretty clearly caused by the same or a similar critter as the back roof.  Bastard!

That very afternoon, my neighbor, Kim, came by and said to me, "Hey, I saw a raccoon on your roof the other night!" I told her about the damage and she reported that she had similar damage, but much more extensive.  And, that she'd seen him on two of our neighbor's roofs as well.  He was terrorizing our whole neighborhood. [At this point you may be thinking that there could be several raccoons.  And yes, there could be, but don't let me think about that, okay?]

At this point, I decided to called Animal Control and see what they could about this nuisance raccoon.  Now, generally unless an animal is showing signs of illness or is a dead carcass, Animal Control will not bother wildlife, but I was hoping because this guy was causing so much damage that they would do something.

Unsurprisingly, they would not do much.  They did tell me that I have a right to remove the nuisance animal, or have it removed.  The clerk advised me that I could call the state Department of Natural Resources, plead my case, and apply for an animal trapping permit, and that Animal Control would rent me a live trap so I could catch him, and if they did catch him they'd come out and get him and dispose of him.

So, that's what I did.  I called DNR and was a registered animal trapper and in possession of a rented trap by the end of that day.  My neighbor also borrowed a trap from someone, so we had two yards now trying to catch this sucker.

And no dice.  No raccoon.  After a week of a bated trap, we did not catch him.  Neither did my neighbor. We returned the trap and continued to complain about the raccoon and went back and forth on the hiring the animal trapper, who's fees were as much as the fee for our roof repair, and who could not guarantee that he'd even catch the raccoon.  I was torn.  I'm pretty cheap, so I neither wanted to pay for a roof repair that was simply going to be re-damaged next spring, nor did I want to pay for a trapper to come out and trap nothing.

We spent a few weeks contemplating what to do, and I saw him several more times, wandering in and out of my neighbors across the street's yards, trotting down the sidewalk, peering at me from behind fences.  He looked big, but he never came down my side of the road during the day, likely because of our dog who spends a lot of time outdoors when the weather is nice. 

I was still stalling about what to do about the stupid thing, when, last week (after I wrote my post even!), my neighbor Arlette called me.  Now, it's not so strange that Arlette would call me.  She and her husband are retired and travel a lot; they let us know when they will be gone so we can look out; we receive packages for them when they are away; their grandkids come over to play with the boys when they visit.  They are good neighbors.  They snow blow our walk when Nelson is out of town, and Nelson helps them dig their cars out, stuff like that.

What was strange is that she called me at 8:30PM, which she knows is prime bedtime in these parts.  I took the call and Arlette was agitated.  She had finally seen this raccoon that Kim and I had been telling her about for the past 3 weeks.  In her yard. IN HER YARD.  It was just a few moments before she called me.  She had seen him lift up the lid of her trash can, one of those huge bins things that hook into the back of garbage trucks, climb inside, had himself a meal, and leave.

Those bins are at least four feet high.  Oscar cannot even get the lid up by himself - he's not tall enough.  So, that means, on his hind legs that raccoon must have stood at least as tall as Oscar.  Oscar, who is in the 90th percentile for his height and probably stands over 40 inches.  That means this raccoon is the size of a preschooler. It is BIGGER than Miles William.  It could probably carry a small child on it's back.

This raccoon is huge.   Arlette was alarmed.  

The next day she called a wildlife trapper (a much less expensive one) and was unimpressed with the non guarantee. She also informed me that she was going to take on this raccoon as one of her "projects." As I mentioned, she and her husband are retired, and they've also lived in our little township for 36 years.  Arlette knows how to get things done and she thinks she can convince our city to take care of the raccoon.  

In the meantime, I think we'll be taking another go trapping ourselves, trying some marshmallows this time.  I'll let you know how it pans out.


Pamela said...

holy effing shiteballs. there is no excuse for a raccoon that large to continue living. vive la murder!!!

Jennifer said...

I would be scared of such a big critter!! I hope he is caught soon!

Becky said...

Dang, I can't believe it tore up your roof again!

I'm impressed that you are now a certified wildlife trapper. Please promise me that if you get this thing, you will have his fluffy coat made into a hat.

Susanica said...

Since it likes to get into the garbage dumpsters, you should all have a plan to toss something heavy on there and hold him til you can get someone to take him away. On the other hand he seems quite monstrous and a really ticked off raccoon finally getting out of a pretend trap could be quite livid. What a never ending nightmare this is turning out to be! -M

Kate said...

You need Billy the Exterminator. Have you ever seen that show? Raccoons are the easy part of his job...

I too am impressed that you're a certified wildlife trapper. That is both completely random and totally hilarious.

Andrea said...

Wow! So now you've got Animal Trapper Extraordinaire (or at least valiant effort) to add to your resume?! Impressive!