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What D’ya Want From Me?
by Dee Walmsley
I haven’t rehabbed raccoons for the last 15 years, and after the last few days, I know why. I… can’t take it anymore!
On Fri. I received a call from a gal pal who lives 20 miles from me saying she had a mother raccoon and 3 kits in her compost box and although she didn’t want them harmed, she wanted them out of her
Her reasons were valid, she has a 4-year-old grandson who visits regularly, and there are 6 small kids living next door. This city raccoon was trapped only three houses away by a so-called expert the day before, released, and seen moving her babes down a back alley. My friend met up with the sow while mowing her lawn. She came face to face with the worried mom just prior to spilling grass clippings into her plastic compost container. Mother raccoon ran off revealing 3-week-old kits. That’s when I got the frantic call.
The kits new den was open to the environment with rain in the forecast. Their mom had removed the lid in order to hide them safely inside. The sun was shining, the day warm and I thought if my friend replaced the lid that it might become too warm so advised her to watch for mom’s return and call me. I wondered did mom have another den site and, if so why the stop over?
I received the next call twenty minutes later; mom was back nursing her babes. Now what? My advice, at dusk try harassing mom with noise to see if overnight she’ll move her young to another den. After banging a few pots, playing heavy metal music et al, mom just looked up pathetically with her kits tucked snugly under her as if to say “what do you want me to do”?
This prompted phone call number 3.“She’s not going anywhere and I feel like a heel”. “Leave her until morning. Hopefully she’ll remove them after dark”. Sat morning, call number 4. “She’s still here.”
Sat noon, 5th phone call. “She’s gone and left the babies”.
By this time, it’s raining and I’m worried sick about hypothermia. “You’ve got to watch for her return and in the meantime wrap a hot water bottle in a towel, put the kits on it and place the lid back on the
barrel without the catch so mom can get back in”.
Ten minutes later, call number 6. “She’s back!”
“Good, hopefully she was checking out the local real estate”.
“I have workers here and they are constantly passing the compost box, she must be very upset”.
“I’m sure she is and in order to protect her young she could eat or abandon them altogether. Did you get the hot water bottle to them?
“No, I saw her on the fence so did the neighbors' kids who started banging on the boards with their hockey sticks and screaming. In all the fuss Mom raccoon ran away. I tore a strip off of the kids and then went over to their dad with an apology for my behavior”.
Now I’m nearly sick with worry as is my friend. We discuss the plight of urban wildlife and as mothers, we both relate to this mother’s predicament. I talk about leaving well enough alone when no structural damage or threat to pets, kids etc. exists and she says if she decides to
relocate under my deck, I’ll live with it.
“Try the hot water bottle thing again as I’m really concerned now about hypothermia.
“OK, I’ll do it right now."
Ten minutes later and call number 7. “Two of the babies are gone. I wrapped up the other one next to a coke bottle filled with hot water.
“Good, she’s found another den. Let me know if she comes back for the third, if not we’ll have to take it to the shelter.”
“OK call you later”.
An hour later, call number 8. “She hasn’t come back yet and we are going out for supper. I don’t know what to do”.
“Warm up the bottle and check it when you get back home. You might try holding up the kit and get it to yell. If she is within hearing range she’ll come back as soon as you leave”.
“OK, I’ll call you when I get home”.
It’s now dark; Call number 9 and kit is still alone. The shelters are all closed so we decided to warm the bottle once more, cover kit with a blanket, and hope that by morning mom will have returned for her.
Final call Sunday morning…the towel is in shreds and the kit has gone. My friend and I are delighted that this little family has been given another chance and talk of lessons learned.
Later that same morning I get a call from my sister-in-law. “I’ve got a raccoon under my shed. Yes, I can hear the kits chirring; now that I’ve confirmed what they are I’ll leave well enough alone.”
Well done, my heart just couldn’t take another 24 hours of frantic
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