Monday, November 16, 2009
The Day We Caught a Mama Raccoon
For the past month or so, the shed where I keep my chicken feed has been broken into and sometimes the lids taken off the metal cans that store the grain for my chickens. So, I've alternately set a "raccoon repeller," which is a small motion detector that emits a high-pitched sound when it's set off. This has worked very well, but I can't always set the motion detector because occasionally I get home well after dark, and 'coons are out and about just when it's good and dark--about 45 minutes after sunset--and again just before dawn. On these days my chickens are vulnerable to the raccoons until I can get home and lock them up. I have lost several chickens in the past few months, so on weekends and days my husband is home, I've been setting our trap to capture and relocate at least some of the coons. So, I was not surprised this morning when I went up to the poultry yard to find a big raccoon in the trap. She was so upset that she had turned the trap over on its side in her efforts to get out. No coon had ever done that before, and I wondered about it. However, I picked up the trap and set it down in the back yard out of the poultry yard so that we could take care of the coon after breakfast.
As I was fixing breakfast, I looked out my kitchen window and saw another raccoon coming down the path from the poultry yard. It was smaller than the one in the trap, and it would stop every couple of feet, raise itself up a bit on its hind legs and sniff the air. It found the trapped coon and went right up to it. They seemed happy to see each other and sniffed noses through the cage wire. The trapped coon must have been the little one's mama. Well, this just settled the matter. I called to my husband to look out the window to see this drama. Of course, there was absolutely no question now that we would let the mama coon out of the trap so she could be with her baby. However, raccoons are not the safe, cuddly little creatures they appear to be. They are "little bears," related, in a manner, to Panda bears, and we had a mama coon separated from her baby and we were going to go out there and open the trap to let her out. That means our hands would be inches away from this coon, and we had no idea what she would do once she got out. The baby had waddled up the hill and into the bushes as soon as we came out the back door. My husband opened the trap door while I held a long walking stick just in case. At first she was not aware that the door was open, since she was more concerned with keeping her face toward us, but she soon found her way out and took off likity-split. She went in a slightly different direction than her baby, but I'm sure that they very soon found each other and are now well on their way to their home for their daily nap.
I guess I'll have to rely more on strategically placed motion detectors to protect my chickens.