Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One Time When I Caught a Raccoon on my Porch

About 7:30 this morning while I was still snuggled in bed with my head under the pillows and covers, my husband awakened me with, "You've got to come downstairs to see what is in the trap!"

As I blearily opened one eye, Patrick continued to slightly yell, "It's a raccoon. There's a raccoon on the porch." Upon hearing his revelation, I immediately flashed back to inadvertently catching a opossum about six weeks ago when my stray-cat-catching-odyssey began. As previously chronicled, I have been trying off-and-on for about two months to round up the stray cat family that resides in the woods around our house (For more info, check out http://musingsthoughtsandponderings.blogspot.com/2009/06/cat-wrangler.html and http://musingsthoughtsandponderings.blogspot.com/2009/06/cat-wrangler-part-2.html). I tried for about a week in June to round up the mother cat and kittens, but only managed to catch a opossum on my porch at that time.

At least with my opossum catch, Animal Control came and released the little critter. Yes, he was released right back into my yard. Apparently, the state of NC protects opossums and prohibits Animal Control from doing away with them. At least the opossum fiasco only left me with a stinky animal trap and some flashbacks of watching Beverly Hillbillies as a kid.

My morning raccoon incident was much less pleasant, however. After Patrick ventured onto the porch to take a picture of our "friendly," neighborhood raccoon, my husband settled in to read the newspaper and left me to deal with our nuisance since, as Patrick remarked trying to butter me up, "You've been doing such a great job handling the cat situation." (Yea, right- he just didn't want to have to call someone about having a very unhappy raccoon on his porch.) At this point, my husband and I quickly determined that neither one of us was brave or stupid enough to deal with the animal ourselves, and we would definitely require reinforcements.

As I trotted off to call Animal Control, I mumbled to myself, "Oh great, first a opossum, now a raccoon. The Animal Control guy is going to love me." Animal Control runs through our local police department, so I actually had to speak with the police receptionist first about my little issue. So I told her, "I need Animal Control to come out . . . I have a raccoon trapped on my front porch." The conversation veered crazily downhill at this point as the woman laughed at me and said, "I've never heard of anyone trapping a raccoon before." I beg to differ. We're in NC; I'm sure that someone else before me has accidentally trapped a raccoon before. As I have learned the hard way, I can put out the trap, but I can't control what goes in it.

So my dear pal from Animal Control, the one who previously released my opossum, called to tell me that he could not release or deal with my opossum since he is only licensed to deal with dogs and cats, and since my trap is from the Humane Society, not Animal Control, the officer whom I support with my taxes can't help me anyway. At this point in the phone conversation, I'm quickly losing my confidence in "Animal" (IMHO, it should be "Dog and Cat") Control and becoming very irritated that my desire to trap, spay, and return the feral female cat to my yard as a mouser is hitting so many roadblocks. Of course, Animal Control would be happy to put down any dogs or cats that I manage to catch, but they must release any wild creatures that are caught in a trap.

My friendly Animal Control officer then provided the helpful suggestion that I find a friend who is a hunter to deal with my little raccoon friend. This, of course, does not help in the least since I am not close enough friends with any hunters to call them up and say, "Hey, would you please come over to my house to kill the raccoon on my porch?" and something tells me that sicing a hunter on the raccoon would also violate the humane animal treatment agreement I had to sign when borrowing the trap from the Humane Society.

Since hunter Plan A was a no-go, Animal Control gave me number of a guy who could probably help me out. As my family laughed at me, I then called someone else about "my" little raccoon issue. On the phone, my new buddy at All About Wildlife very clearly informed me that it is against NC law to trap and keep raccoons- like I meant to trap the raccoon. To remedy my breach of NC law, he could sell me a raccoon permit or, for a fee, he could come release the animal for me. After realizing that I am now going to have to pay someone to release the rodent right back into my own yard, I grumblingly tell my new wildlife guy, Jonathan, to come over in about an hour. It would have cost more if I wanted the raccoon removed from my property, so I settled for merely releasing him.

Here is the scene that greeted Jonathan when he arrived at my house about 9:20am:

One angry raccoon in a trap. One angry raccoon who has shredded the plastic food bowl that was in the trap. One angry raccoon who has shredded the plastic food bowl and pulled the towel that was previously on the trap into it. One angry raccoon who has shredded the plastic food bowl, pulled the towel into the trap, and pooped all over my porch. One angry raccoon who has shredded the plastic food bowl, pulled the towel into the trap, pooped all over my porch, and cut his leg and bled all over my porch, too. (I was channeling the Berenstains' Bears on Wheels there with the repetitive verse.)

Dear Jonathan (nice guy and now I know who to call if I ever have nuisance animals in or around my house) then set Mr. Raccoon free about 30 feet from my house, rid the trap of the bowl and towel pieces, collected his $40 check, and went on his way.

Fast forward about 10 minutes: I'm trying to enjoy my morning cup of hot tea and read the newspaper (I'm much happier when I start my day that way) when the doorbell rings. It was Edgar from Terminex, and I wished you could have seen his face. As I walked down the hall toward the glass front door, I saw Edgar glance at the porch floor where the trap had been, and as he did Edgar's eyes grew bigger and bigger. Between the raccoon blood and feces, it must have appeared as if I had recently performed a ritual sacrifice in my yard. To alleviate my termite guy's fear, I quickly informed Edgar about my morning adventure and, of course, he laughed at me, too. Then as my termite guy checked the crawl space, I proceeded to scrub the porch and trap with hot, soapy water- not fun, not fun at all.

After my misfires with the opossum and raccoon, I considered giving up my "hobby" as a feral cat trapper, but I decided to soldier on for fear of being over-run with stray felines if I don't succeed in my mission of having the mother cat spayed.

But, hey, if you ever need a guy to wrangle a raccoon, call me. I know someone who will handle it for a small fee.


  1. Angela, you are right about not being the first person in NC to trap a raccoon. My backyard neighbor has individually trapped six raccoons this summer and released all of them at his farm property about 10 miles away from our houses. I'm sure he has no permit either!

  2. Angela - I came across your blog by accident... I do "TNR" (trap-neuter-return) of feral cats in Pennsylvania and I and others frequently get raccoons get caught in traps. Just in case this happens again, here's some info: we release them straight out every time (if we called animal control here they would have to take them and kill them - PA game commission law). As long as you lift up the trap door and stand BEHIND the trap (so the raccoon's exit is pointing away from where you are) the raccoon will head away from you as fast as its legs can take it and it will not waste time messing with you (what seems like "angry" is actually "very very scared"). I don't know anyone here yet who's been attacked by an exiting raccoon caught in a cat trap. However, if the raccoon is acting odd (foaming mouth, partially paralyzed...) don't try this. That said, a rabid raccoon is unlikely to go into a trap because it won't respond to bait... Thanks for letting this guy go safely. Great blog music by the way. Rebecca, PA.

  3. i've got one now in the same type of trap. I was hoping to catch one. Now I have to wait til eve to release him into the nearby park. I want to avoid the entrance fee. Or I could borrow my daughter's car, she has a pass. Ive trapped maybe 6 or 7 racoons over the years to discourage them from sharing my house. The angriest one, probably a pregnant female, ran straight away when I slid up the exit door. I was never quite sure how far yuo have to move one to keep him from finding his way home.