What do you think?
As my trees are so heavy laden with blossoms and I envision a HUGE BUMPER CROP of peaches and apples this year, as long as the squirrels don't interfere, I am wondering if I should again set the trap out there???
The post below was originally put up last summer. The reason I have reprised it is that it has happened again... Who knew raccoons would fight squirrels for a cinnabon? For you, my readers, there is one thing I want to make totally clear; I LOVE ANIMALS and the reason I am trapping is to give them opportunity for a better life (there is an awesome field nearby where the cottonwood trees shade my favorite running path and a creek burbles noisily into a pond all summer long. Food is ample and the opportunity to meet the opposite sex is much better! The digs there are much more squirrel friendly than my back yard. So I carefully move them from my yard to what to a squirrel has to be heaven on earth in my wife's SUV, much to her dismay...
"Why don't you ever use your own for this?"
"Well, your SUV is wider and it is easier to move the trap in and out..."
EYE ROLL, SHOULDER SHRUG, DISMISSIVE LOOK (come on, you know the one my matrimonially embarked friends)
My new neighbors have a BIG, new dog who loves to torment the critters in our adjoining yards (and stomp all over my newly planted seedlings, perhaps I need a bigger trap?) So the mother squirrel (a leftover from last year) protects her next by jumping from tree to tree, chattering angrily and tossing pine cones at his head. He is so enamoured with her that he sticks around, usually long enough to ahem... relieve himself. Did I mention he is a BIG dog? Further reason to simply get the critters that draw him to our yard out of here!
My own Italian Greyhound cannot stand to have the squirrels in our backyard and of course the mother squirrel has built her nest in the pine tree right off of my dog's favorite window so there is no doubt she is moving about back there. I work at home and my dog DRIVES ME CRAZY RUNNING FROM WINDOW TO WINDOW when they move about in the yard. But the BIGGEST reason I simply must move them is my "peach orchard" which is bound to have a bountiful harvest this year (still eating peach smoothies from the peaches I froze last summer). The squirrels have a very annoying habit. I actually wouldn't mind sharing a peach or two with them, we have plenty, but what they do is climb the tree take a bite, toss it down to the lawn, take another bite, toss it down to the lawn. Who wants to eat a peach a squirrel slobbered on?
I think now that I am up to 10 peach trees in my suburban neighborhood, I can call it an orchard, so there must be squirrel memos that go out "PARTY AT THE MATOTT'S! Peaches, all you can eat! Come on by for the open house!"
By the way, I got a postcard from "RICKY", the dude pictured above. He recently honeymooned in Cabo and is looking forward to getting back to the "awesome place I left him" last summer. He will be happy to know he is to be joined by another relocated raccoon today!
We had a bear within a mile of our house yesterday. I wonder if he/she knew about the grill (mentioned within this blog) and was coming back for more. If there are going to be bears in the hood this summer, I better get a bigger trap for sure!
Though I didn't get comments on this posting last year, I got numerous emails about it, all positive. I hope you enjoy it and LET THIS YEAR'S TRAP TALLY BEGIN!
If you read my earlier blog about catch and release you might not recognize this little guy as the subject I was hoping to catch and release and neither did I. This dude or dudette was apparently hanging out in my backyard, unbeknownst to me likely feeding off my compost pile and decided that he or she would rather enjoy the wonderful toast and peanut butter spread I had left for one of the three million squirrels already taking the peaches off our trees.
I awakened one morning last week earlier than the sun and from my office window, looking out over my back yard, I could tell that the trap had closed during the night. It looked like something larger than a squirrel was in there, but it was too dark to tell. I had visions of SUPER SQUIRREL, a strange thirty pound Guinness World record holder being held captive in my backyard. As the sun came up it became apparent to me that I had likely caught one of my neighbor's cats and not Super Squirrel. I was trying to write a chapter for one of my upcoming chapter books but my curiosity kept my mind wandering. Then when I walked out into the garden realizing simply by the sound coming from the area where the trap was that this was no cat and this was no squirrel. No, this was a hissing, angry raccoon who simply wanted a little PBJ and then was hoping to be on his way... but got caught my amateur trapper-bonehead yours truly.
Having loved where the red fern grows and being permanently scarred by what a raccoon will and can do to a dog or anyone else it decides to have a beef with and having heard stories about how vicious these critters can be when trapped I decided I needed help before I did anything about this predicament. I went to the most reliable source I could find to determine what to do... google.com. As I perused the page, it first said: "UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHOULD YOU TRAP YOUR OWN RACCOON, HIRE A PROFESSIONAL AND DON'T BE A CHEAPSKATE!" Okay, I wasn't being cheap, I didn't intend to trap this dude. Then the warnings about the likely outcome of letting this angry dude go scared me even more. The website actually tried to tell me the preferred method of relocation would be to heaven. I am NOT going to harm an animal that simply wants to eat a free PBJ and live freely, but that I don't want simply living in my backyard, eating my garden's bounty and my orchard. SO... as I read on, the website chided me further about being a cheapskate (it must have been posted by someone who makes his or her living relocating animals and doesn't like the novice trapper-releaser-relocator) and told me if I insisted on doing this myself I should arm my self well and wish for the best.
After sufficiently feeling belittled and a bit frightened, I headed out into the already 80 degree morning wearing heavy boots and socks, jeans, a flannel shirt, heavy leather work gloves and a bandana tied around my face (to ward off the websites warnings of distemper, plague and many other possibilities if this dude simply coughs in my SUV as I am relocating which can relocate me to heaven). As I lifted the crate, he or she lunged at me, hissing and making sure I understood that once released, he or she was aiming for my carotid artery and I just might be spending my last summer moments on earth.
I carried the cage with a wildly gyrating and noisy raccoon as outstretched from my body as possible and set it gently into the back of my SUV. Did I mention the website also mentioned that it was illegal in most states to relocate a raccoon? SO, here I was setting off to commit a possible felony with a very angry, plague ridden animal in the back of my SUV. I had all the windows down and the back door open so air could flow backwards and keep his plaguey breath away from me. I intended to do only California stops (a potential misdemeanor) so the air couldn't double back and descend upon me in the way plague tends to do, at least in my overactive imagination. I headed to a wonderfully wooded area, near an elementary school where I imagined my angry buddy living the good life and actually appreciating my thoughtfulness. Perhaps he might even send me a Christmas card with a picture of his new wife and family, all thanks to my kind desire to simply relocate him to a place better suited for wildlife.
As I eased my way down in to the elementary school parking lot and readied myself for what was to possibly be the last moments of my life as I knew it, I noticed another car descending into the parking lot too, the difference between that car and mine was that it had sirens and the words SHERIFF on the doors as well as a burly man in a uniform with a "don't mess with me" look on his face. Here I was on an early-getting hotter by the moment-morning, in the outfit I mentioned previously and the bandana now tucked up into my hat to protect not only my airways, but to pull up over my eyes in case this particular varmint preferred eye gouging to simply chewing of skin and arteries. The sheriff pulled around the parking lot and nodded at me like this was something he saw every day. I nodded back and he looked at me like the next move was mine.
SO I waited a sufficient amount of time since our last eye-lock and started my engine slowly easing my way out of the parking lot, having pulled the bandana down as though just a neck decoration and holding my breath for somewhere around ten minutes, he pulled up and stopped near the exit to the parking lot and as I glided past him, back doors of the SUV open, a chattering, banging raccoon giving my stereo a run for its money, I gave him the "guy nod" and started into a neighborhood, where I figured at the next vacant stop sign I would gift these people's pesky squirrels with a little buddy to play with. It seemed like every four way stop sign had four way busyness to keep me from exporting my little friend so I drove on for what seemed like hours, sticking my head out the window every time I inhaled through my bandana, taking huge gulps of fresh, non plague or distemper tainted air.
Finally I came to a HUGE open space with a running stream, lots of tall trees and what seemed like the perfect place to let this dude out. Did I mention that during this entire episode, the little guy was banging, bending and screaming at ever increasing in volume intervals? I pulled over, checked my mirrors and backed into a little dirt drive. I went to the back, pulled the cage out, while holding the clawed garden hoe that was to be my defense against the raccoon's attack. He was hissing, jumping, banging and screaming at me. I got into the back of my SUV and pulled the door as closed as I could in this awkward position, sticking the hoe out through the few inches of open door and imagined him running around the side of the vehicle and leaping into one of the open windows, thus trapping me inside for my flesh tearing session. I grabbed the catch that holds the trap shut with the hoe from inside the SUV and pulled back, it went up about three inches and then crashed down loudly clanging further enraging the possibly rabid raccoon, who must have thought I was just toying with him.
Thoughts of bullfighters and viciously angry bulls came to mind and how a trapped bull will turn on the matador and then gore him, throwing him ten feet into the air. Suddenly it seemed that this large cat-sized raccoon could do just that. I pulled with all my might holding the cage door open and he just sat there. I waited for what seemed like an hour, my arms falling asleep, my heart beating so loud he must have heard it, reminding me of the things I had heard about animals sensing fear and capitalizing on it by tearing their captors in two.
Then I did what anyone would do that wanted the raccoon to be calm when he finally emerged from the trap, I began screaming at the top of my lungs, "GO YOU BIG DUMMY, MOVE! GET OUT OF THERE!" Suddenly, he sprang into action, he began to scurry out of the trap like a bat out of H-E-Double-Toothpicks! A sense of relief overtook me as he emerged and ran the opposite way of my SUV. Then just as I thought this little mistaken episode was over, he stopped and turned, his yellow fangs glinting in the sunlight and looked right into my eyes, which were just slits behind the bandana. Did I mention I was drenched in sweat from the heat, now approaching 110 degrees in the SUV covered by more clammy sweat from sheer ice cold fear?
He looked at me with intent. Suddenly I saw his little masked face and couldn't help but think that he was awful darn cute. He nodded up and down as though to say "Hey thanks a lot dude, this place is SWEET!"
He jumped down the little concrete curb and scurried off into the tall grass, his funny little body bumping up and down heading across the field headed right for the tall cottonwood trees I had intended for him to find. I pulled the bandana off my face and jumped out of the SUV and shouted HAVE FUN DUDE! Then I stripped off the flannel shirt, pulled off my boots and socks and headed for home (driving barefoot is at least a misdemeanor).
That night I had about three hundred dreams that the raccoon was on my front porch, back porch, garage, bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and pretty much everywhere else I frequented including my regular Starbucks! Believe it or not, he was behind the counter waiting in cahoots with my regular barista to size up my tip and attitude deciding if it was going to be the carotid or the face that got attacked first.
Several days passed and no signs of him returning, but alas, I thought, another squirrel was in there that I would have to find a new home for (this is getting old) No, not a squirrel, I awakened to something strange in the cage. Sitting there staring at me in my office was a huge black bird, trapped by my peanut butter treat. That relocation was the easiest; I opened the cage, the bird flew away and all I lost in the deal was some bread. Come to find out, it didn't like the peanut butter after all.
SO, the current backyard count is 4 squirrels, 1 raccoon and 1 bird all happily living elsewhere. My next door neighbor, amused at my early morning Daniel Boone forays, said something yesterday that terrified me, "What are you going to do if you catch a skunk?"
Do skunks like peanut butter? Back to google, I'll let you know. Oh and by the way, after further research I have found out that I wasn't breaking any laws, Colorado is one state where you can, by law, relocate a racoon, but not a fox? And that thing about driving barefoot. I don't know if that is urban legend or if you really have to have shoes on to drive a car.
Did I mention that a few years back a black bear disassembled my backyard grill partially? Then she left her footprints in my next door neighbor's kid's sandbox. How did I know she was a she? She was on the news. She had fallen asleep in a tree a few miles away. Perhaps the heavy grease from the drippings in my grill made her tired. I just hope her babies don't like peanut butter.