A raccoon invasion

Regular readers might recall that I spent many weeks last summer trapping raccoons that roamed our barns, and in the end I relocated eight of them into the wildlife area about fifteen miles north of our farm. Moving them that far away means they’re less likely to return, and with the river and wooded areas, they have all they’ll need for a nice life away from our farm.

I really thought that after moving those eight, we would perhaps be able to forget about trapping this year. After all, how many raccoons can a fifteen-acre farm hold? Obviously I was deluding myself — the answer to the question is “A lot!”

Seth captured two fairly small raccoons while we were traveling last week.

Seth captured two fairly small raccoons while we were traveling last week.

Before I left for my recent travel, I trapped a couple of small raccoons in our old Storage Barn and relocated them. Rick caught one too, for a total of three between us. As we were leaving, I asked our farm-sitter, Seth, to continue to set the trap in the loft in case there were more. We also had an additional trap on the main level of the barn, sitting unbaited on a bale feeder. I mentioned to Seth that he could use this trap in the other barn if raccoons seemed to be entering that space too.

While we were gone, Seth texted me the above photo of two raccoons he’d caught that day. When I asked about it, he said he had not baited and set the second trap. The raccoon simply entered the trap where it sat on the bale feeder, and it tripped, catching the raccoon inside. A volunteer for relocation, you might call it! That brought our total to five for this year.

Yet when I returned home over the weekend, it was obvious that there was still at least one more raccoon visiting our Storage Barn. The sure indicator is when the cat food self-feeder is empty and destroyed when I go into the loft to feed the cats. If other feral cats or wild creatures like opossums visit, they eat the cat food but leave the feeder intact. But raccoons, for whatever reason, always pull apart the four pieces of the self-feeder and throw them around the barn loft, essentially leaving the pieces in the four corners of the space.

The raccoon I caught this morning was much bigger - and angrier - than any of the others this year.

The raccoon I caught this morning was much bigger/older — and angrier — than any of the others this year.

So yesterday I set the trap in the loft again, baiting it with corn to avoid catching the many feral cats that consider that barn their home base. When I came into the barn for my morning chores today, I knew before I climbed the loft ladder that there was a raccoon in my trap. As I entered the barn, all of the barn cats greeted me on the main floor, which they do only if there is a big angry raccoon hissing in my trap in the hay loft. As I climbed the ladder and my head emerged through the loft opening, I could see a big raccoon lying on its back in the trap. Before it saw me, it looked as if it was playing with its toes. But as soon as it noticed my movement at the top of the ladder, it flipped onto its feet and began its loud complaints at being trapped.

This raccoon was much bigger than any of those previously trapped. I suspect it was the mother of the many smaller raccoons. I assured her that I would take her to her children in the wildlife area, and then I tried to lift the trap! She was heavy — at least thirty pounds! Instead of bringing her down the ladder, I had to take her out the far loft door, where I had more room to maneuver and could carry the trap with two hands. In a very short time, I was on my way to the wildlife area with a very unhappy raccoon in the back of the truck.

I have reset the trap in the loft in hopes that it will sit empty and unsprung for a very long time. Our raccoon count for this year now sits at six, and that seems like plenty for any one farm!

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