Last Sunday, I was debating about what to write about for the newspapers this week when a subject fell right in my lap. I am going to cut and paste what I ended up with.
Here at our humble little abode in the country, as of late, we have been experiencing some problems with wild creatures. Dealing with wildlife has been a challenge since we moved to the country but for the most part, I have been willing to let bygones be bygones; the rabbits can have my green bean plants, the birds, my raspberries and cherries. The squirrels can have all the walnuts they can carry and the deer can munch on the sweet corn as long as leave a little for us. I’m willing to let the coyotes howl to their heart’s content and since I don’t keep chickens, I don’t care if the foxes do whatever it is that foxes do. Even the garden snakes are allowed to live under the pile of firewood at our house.
I’m comfortable with this menagerie but I have had to draw the line at letting raccoons roam around the property. One has been pestering us for the past month, tearing up trash, dragging the 2 gallon can of birdseed out in the yard and scattering the seed all over everywhere and even climbing a tree to raid the feeders. The last straw though was Ol’ Rocky eating a package of those little powdered donuts that Susie accidentally left on the porch swing overnight. It’s never a good thing to get between Susie and her donuts. I had no choice but to borrow a live trap from my brother-in-law. (Note 1)
This morning, when I got up, a huge raccoon was in the trap and I felt pretty smug until I looked closer, then my heart sank right down into my shoes. There, snuggled up against the cage and their mother inside, were 3 little raccoons. I had not yet given a lot of thought as to what I would do with one captured raccoon but at that moment, I knew I had no idea how to get rid of four of them, especially with 3 of them on the loose.
I was dumbfounded and at a loss as to what I could do. I briefly considered trying to catch the little ones. After all, I did have some experience catching critters on my Uncle’s farm as a youngster. Of course, these critters being chickens, they were not exactly wild animals who could bring serious harm to a person’s extremities. My brother and I got pretty good at scaring them into the corner of the chicken pen where we could grab one and toss it under the washtub until we hjad 3 or 4 for cleaning and frying. But I was 8 years old then and much quicker on my feet. Even if I thought I could catch one now, I did not have a washtub handy. Scratch the raccoon capturing idea.
It was a pretty helpless feeling. I have no doubt that I had some ancestor who would have just done away with them and in all likelihood, would have made a meal or two out of these creatures. But I couldn’t.
I was stuck. Here it was, 7 o’clock on Sunday morning, where was I to get any help? Wimping out, I called the sheriff’s dispatcher who directed me to the department of Natural Resources where a conservation officer quickly answered the phone and directed me to the DNR website. (Note 2) There, I learned, that since raccoons are a nuisance animal, it is permissible to ‘destroy‘ them as long as we live outside of any city limits. That solved the problem. Well, no, actually it didn’t. First of all, I am too soft to kill anything and even if I wasn’t, I don’t own a gun (note 3) so how was I supposed to kill these critters? Put a plastic bag over their cute little heads?
In the end, after searching the DNR website, I found the names of 3 licensed nuisance animal trappers in my area. I picked one called ‘Morgan County Critter Control’ because the owner’s name was Abe. I desperately needed an Abraham, biblical or presidential, in this matter. In short order, he arrived, captured the loose babies and was gone with the bunch before I had finished my second cup of coffee. I’ll be saving his phone number.
The raccoon problem is solved but now I’ll have to live with the question of why I couldn’t take care of this myself. This only bothers me because earlier this year, my granddaughter asked me what sort of folks my grandparents were and that conversation left me trying to answer that same rhetorical question about myself. 50 years down the road, what can my grandchildren say to their grandchildren if they are asked such a question? I can hear them now….
“Old granddad wasn’t exactly cut from the same cloth as David Crockett, Jim Bowie, Paul Bunyan or, for that matter, Wild Bill Hickok.” They’ll say. “He liked a slice of Quiche now and then so I guess you could say he was more of a Walden Pond kind of guy.”
I suppose I’ll have to be happy with that.
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Note 1: I have very recently learned that those were not Susie’s donuts. They belonged to our granddaughter. Honest.
Note 2: http://www.in.gov/dnr
Note 3: I should warn any would be robbers who might get the idea that, without weapons, we’re easy prey out here . We’re not. I didn’t take all those Karate lessons just for kicks. I’m in the process of having my hands registered as deadly weapons as we speak.