After catching another raccoon about a week ago, we called in a wildlife management guy this week to see if he had some fresh ideas. It turns out that he did.
I pulled up at my house to find him bent over and peering under our front steps, flashlight in hand. He had a big, white beard. His truck was parked in front of our house with its dusty, rusty bed full of live traps and a dog waiting behind the wheel.
“Usually when I get called in, I’m dealing with intimidation and fear,” he told me as we stood in front of the house discussing the problem. “You don’t seem intimidated.”
“Yeah. I’m just really frustrated,” I said. I took his comment as a compliment, along with his observation that I had my trap set up correctly and baited right–with marshmallows “so you don’t catch a cat,” we said together.
We discussed the house and where I think the raccoons are getting in and his thoughts about that. “I guarantee, there are raccoons all around here. They know every house, every hiding place, where every dog lives.” He motioned to an abandoned house across the street with a new hole in the roof. “You gotta make sure you’re trapping your raccoons, not his raccoons,” he said.
He shared random facts about raccoons and information he’d learned from Purdue Extension Office info sessions about their urban raccoon research. He talked a little about other work he does, “I’m working a job a couple blocks from here. A woman woke up in the middle of the night and found a possum in her toilet.”
The raccoons seem to be getting in under our front porch. We’re scheduled to have it re-done sometime soon, so right now my biggest fear is that one will be trapped in the basement by the construction. The guy gave me several tips on how to tell if raccoons are present and how to set the trap up even better to catch anything as it emerges from beneath.
“You gotta paint a picture for them. Show them exactly where you want them to go. Get the trap right in there so there’s nowhere else to go. You can even cover the area with a sheet so the only daylight is at the back of the trap. They’ll always go toward the daylight,” he said as he cleared a foot-wide path through the weeds that led from the porch to the trap.
He introduced me to his dog before he left. It was a handsome border collie and the two of them were off to harass geese to keep them from nesting (and pooping) around drainage ponds next to some east side business establishments. The dog was eager to get to work but enjoyed a couple of pats.
That night as I was getting into bed, my cat took an unusual interest in the furnace vent in the bedroom. He stared down it for several seconds, then left, then came and stared again. Surely not! I didn’t smell the wet dog stink of raccoon. But the cat knew.
So much for me living without intimidation and fear. I didn’t sleep well at all.
That was raccoon #14, if you’re keeping track.