Yes, it’s hard to believe that we’re still trapping raccoons! We have caught seven so far and have been working on number eight for nearly a week. I’m beginning to think that this raccoon ought to open its own raccoon chapter of Mensa (the international high-IQ society). Although I consider myself to be fairly intelligent and smart enough to outwit a raccoon, Number Eight (as he is so affectionately called around our farm) has become quite the challenge.
About a week ago, immediately following baby raccoon number seven (left), I once again cleaned out the trap, made sure all the moving parts were working, and then put another can of cat food in the back, setting the trap as I left the barn. I had assumed that we would catch the next raccoon in a night or two. As you can see in the photo of #7, I had rigged the trap for easy release, working a zip tie through the cage to provide a release mechanism. I simply had to take the trap to the wildlife area, place my foot against the back of the trap and pull on the zip tie to open the door on the other end of the trap. Typically, the raccoons would simply scamper away, and I would be off for home.
Well, somehow Number Eight figured out how to use my zip tie to open the trap door himself. The next morning, we found the trap sprung, the food eaten, lots of paw prints inside and miscellaneous hair stuck to the trap, but no raccoon. Number Eight had been caught, but got away!
I set the trap again, changing how I lay the zip tie on the trap so that the raccoon couldn’t use it to release himself — or so I thought. The next morning, I once again found the same scene: the trap sprung, the cat food can empty, lots of prints and hair, but no raccoon. Now I was getting frustrated!
I again set the trap on Wednesday evening, moving the zip tie out of reach so that in no way would it be available to the raccoon. But I was outsmarted once again: the raccoon ate all of the cat food without stepping on the triggering plate. He had figured out which part of his behavior snapped the trap shut, and was now avoiding just that. This raccoon was way too smart!
So every night since, we have been changing where we place the can in hopes of altering Number Eight’s behavior — but every morning we find an empty trap: no cat food and no raccoon. This is not good! I am not about to be shown up by this li’l varmint!
I am also running out of alternative methods of trapping the raccoon. Tonight I am going to try to wire down the can to the bottom of the trap in case Number Eight is holding the can to eat the food. I’m hoping that his struggle to pick up the can will lead him to forget about the plate and trigger the door, catching him inside. It all sounds good in theory, but I am left with the thought that if it doesn’t work, I am fresh out of new ideas. Catching raccoons isn’t supposed to be this hard!
So, wish me luck. I am once again on my way out to the barn to set the trap. As I leave the garage, I will stop by the chicken yard and again promise our six-week-old babies that I will catch Number Eight before he can eat them. It’s a promise that I certainly intend to keep, smart raccoon or not. After all, I am a shepherdess at the top of the food chain! Surely I can outsmart a silly raccoon — can’t I?!