July 05, 2022
After I realized it was a raccoon that was getting into the bird feed on our back porch, I did take the steps I mentioned to keep the critter out. I rearraigned the buckets to make them more difficult to knock over and taped up the lid the animal had broken when it had tipped over another bucket. I even put the “Amish stove” space heater across the door to deter him from coming in. I thought we were ready, but the next night the raccoon was back. He crawled through the screen and squeezed past the heater to get to the seed. Zena notified Melissa he was back and this time it was she who turned on the light to see the raccoon at work trying to open the seed buckets. When we surveyed the damage the next morning, he had chewed a piece off one of the lids but had not been able to get inside. The lid that had cracked the previous night was now completely split and I thought might be unusable (I salvaged it). What I had done had not resolved the problem. I wondered if I needed to get a trap.
When I looked online, I found the recommended way to get rid of raccoons is to use a live trap. The Sherman trap is a box-style animal trap designed for the live capture of small mammals. It was invented by Dr. H. B. Sherman in the 1920’s and became commercially available in 1955. The Sherman trap has been used by biological science researchers to capture animals like mice, voles, shrews, and chipmunks. The trap consists of eight hinged pieces of sheet metal (galvanized steel or aluminum) that allow the trap to collapse for storage or transport. Other animal traps have been built along the same design but use metal wire mesh for the hinged pieces. People like using traps for animal control because they are a humane and safe solution to getting rid of animal pests. Both ends of the trap are hinged, but in normal operation the rear end is closed and the front folds inwards and latches the treadle, or trigger plate, in place. When an animal enters far enough to be clear of the front door, their weight releases the latch, and the door closes behind them. The lure is usually a paste bait placed at the far end of the trap that can be dropped in place through the rear hinged door. It was suggested for faster results, place the paste on an apple slice or ear of corn. Apparently, raccoons do not live on past alone.
While the live trap would have been an effective solution, it would have cost around $100 to purchase and time to procure. I decided to do what I should have done in the first place, fix the screens on the porch. When we first brought Zena home, she had heard the dogs barking next door and had run through the lower screen. Several of the window screen had also been pushed in by other critters (the raccoon?). I had purchased a screening tool several weeks ago but had not gotten around to fixing the screens. I put new screws in the windows which had been breached and re-set the screens in the outside door. I finally re-attached the lower portion of the door to the hinge (Zena is rough) and placed plastic over the bottom half of the door thinking it might provide a visible deterrent to both Zena and the raccoon. Zena no longer tries to run through the screen and the raccoon has not been inside, at least not for three nights.
THOUGHTS: The conference center where I worked in Kansas was in a rural setting, and one summer we had a skunk decide to have her kits (babies) under the back porch. I thought it was fitting as it was during the Women’s Weekend, but the other women did not welcome her presence. I called animal control and they brought out a wire mesh version of the live trap. We never caught the skunk but several days later they were gone. I was glad we did not catch the skunk. I was not looking forward to having the mom or one of the four kits decide they needed to spray. One of the harder lessons for humans has been learning to cohabit with other animals. We have destroyed or encroached on their natural habitat and seem to use extermination as the first choice to remove the “pests”. Cohabitation requires us to understand the wants and needs of others so we can cooperate. That is true among humans as well. Act for all. Change is coming and it starts with you.