Alert Gazette readers will recall that I was feeling pretty triumphant after the capture of not one, but two marauding raccoons who had been brutalizing our lawn. I'll admit that I was sure the human race could be proud of the way I was representing it in the mammalian biped-vs-quadruped battle.
Alas, pride goeth before a fall, and this West Texas city boy is learning some hard lessons about raccoons. Namely...
They will penalize your complacency.
Yesterday I awoke to find a third trapped raccoon in the back yard. But while the other two had appeared resigned to their fate, this one was the Steve McQueen of raccoons (Not old enough to get the reference? Grow up and get some culture, wouldja?). It was trapped, but not cowed, and our lawn had paid the price. Sometime during its incarceration, the creature had managed to turn the cage over and frantically dug up twice the area of lawn in an attempt to escape (once while the trap was upright, and again after it was capsized).
It was still jumping around when I went out to check on it, so I moved the trap over to a bare spot so it couldn't do anymore damage while I went back inside to finish my coffee. But when I got ready to load it up for transport to the release area...the trap was empty. It had somehow banged around enough to hit the trap door in just the right spot to open it.
Let's recap. One, our lawn was damaged twice as much as usual. Two, the raccoon escaped. Three, he ate all the sardines. And not only did I still have a raccoon on the loose, I was sure he would never again be tricked into going into the cage, regardless of the lure of more sardines.
Score: Me - 2; Raccoons - 1
They will capitalize on your mistakes.
The lesson was hard, but I thought I learned it well. I would not place the cage in an area where the captive could do additional damage to the lawn, nor would I allow the cage to be rolled around by an over-stimulated occupant.
I placed the cage next to the wrought iron fence, in a spot where the grass hadn't spread, so it was resting on bare dirt. In a stroke of genius, I used nylon zip ties to firmly attach it to the bars of the fence, ensuring that it would not be shifted, regardless of the enthusiasm of the prisoner. I then slid a fresh can (partly opened, of course) of sardines into the trap and armed it.
I awoke the next morning to find an empty cage containing an empty can of sardines. Well, #$^$#$%.
As it turned out, I had a good idea, but it was poorly executed. Allow me to
rationalize explain. I'm using a Havahart® Easy Set® trap, which is an excellent design when not thwarted by an idiot owner. The design is pretty straightforward: the animal, lured into the cage by the promise of a gourmet meal, steps on a flat plate which releases a rod which in turn allows the door to drop behind the unsuspecting diner and said door [theoretically] locks in place, engendering feelings of deep regret on the part of the trapped animal.
However, a problem occurs when some fool fastens the cage so tightly against something -- say, theoretically, the bars of a wrought iron fence -- that the door-dropping mechanism is placed in a bind so that the door drop, which is a fairly critical step in the whole trapping-the-raccoon plan, fails to materialize.
Let's recap. One, the raccoon got a free meal, without the usual stress of a human leering at it through the bars of the cage. Two...well, that pretty much sums it up.
The upside was that (1) the lawn was not subject to further humiliation, and (b) possibly that particular raccoon might view the trap as a variation on a Furr's Cafeteria and will return for another free meal.
Score: Me - 2; Raccoons - 2
More lessons learned. I have now repositioned the trap -- loosened the bonds so that it's still tied to the fence, but not in a bind -- and rearmed it with a fresh can of sardines. And now we wait.
I wonder what the raccoons are thinking...