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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Racoon report

I just saw a huge racoon climb the tree across from my house. This thing had to be close to 20 or 25 pounds. Maybe more. So, I called the Sangamon County Animal Control. They're closed. Of course. It's Sunday night. Phone menu. Press 7 to report an animal complaint or bite. So, I press 7. Ring.

Guy: Central Dispatch.
Me: Yes, I want to report a racoon.
Guy: A racoon?
Me: Who is this?
Guy: The Sheriff's Office.
Me: Ah, do you take care of racoons?
Guy: Hold on.
Me: [Waiting less than a half a minute.]
Guy: Is it in a trap or inside the house?
Me: No. I just saw it climb a tree outside.
Guy: There's nothing we can do. It's a wild animal.
Me: You can't do anything?
Guy: No. Nothing.
Me: What if it was a rat?
Guy: There's nothing we can do.

I was so taken aback, I couldn't think. Plus, I think I just got patched through to 911 to make a racoon report. If so, that's a total waste of 911 resources. Anyway, sitting here now, I have some questions.

If a wild tiger was roaming around the neighborhood, they would do nothing? A goat? A cow? How about a stray dog? Yeah, I'm pretty sure they would send someone out for a stray dog, wild or not.

And, what's this bit about a wild animal in the house. So, if I have a mouse in the house, they'll come out and get it. That's good to know.

Also, this thing about a trap. Are they saying it's okay to start trapping animals in the State of Illinois? Really? Because I thought trapping was ruled inhumane and illegal. I could be wrong. Anyway, if we start setting traps around here, all the bunnies and squirrels would end up in the traps. Come to think of it, we could do with less squirrels.

This makes no sense. I'm sending a letter to someone tomorrow.

We're in the city limits here. This should be a city problem. Although, the city doesn't have an animal control department. Just the county. I just can't believe we have to put up with wild racoons running around the city. I bet if there was a racoon running around the Presidential Library, they'd send someone right out. This is ridiculous.

Posted by Marie at September 17, 2006 7:26 PM


What the heck! Where is Daniel Boone when you really need him?

Posted by: Don Ray at September 17, 2006 7:53 PM

Exactly! Except, I always get Daniel Boone and Davey Crocket mixed up. One was from Indiana and one was from Kentucky. Or something like that. Oh boy. Now I have the theme song from the Daniel Boone show going through my head.

Posted by: Marie at September 17, 2006 8:03 PM

I once a raccoon getting into the trash cans I kept behind my house. It was remarkably persistent and destructive. When I called Howard County animal control I was told about what you were: that they couldn't really do anything. I was told that I was free to trap the raccoon using one of those humane traps and then let it go elsewhere. I decided that there wasn't anything I wanted less in my car with me than an irate, caged raccoon.

If it helps, I know Davey Crockett was at the Alamo.

Posted by: Kem White at September 18, 2006 11:17 AM

Welcome to my world. About two years ago, I called animal control here in Springfield about the racoons in our neighborhood. The situation was literally out of control. There were racoons in the attic of the house across the street ... baby racoons in the ceiling of the house next door ... and racoons were LITERALLY eating through my roof. You could hear them up there!

So, I called animal control and they asked were they inside my house or outside. I answered "Inside ... for now." They said if they were outside, I could be put on a waiting list to borrow one of their traps ... or I could go buy my own trap ... but I could NOT kill them.

If I trapped one, I'd be responsible for taking it out to the country and releasing it ... or, if I had a huge problem with that, they could probably have one of their officers get it and release it out in the country. Great ... just what the people out there want, right?

Now get THIS ... if it was inside, they would give me the number of a company I could call who would come and remove them (trap them) from the house ... and, naturally, I'd be paying them to do this.

Now how in the HELL can this be going on in Springfield? We're all just buggy with raccoons and there's nothing the city or county will do about it? The one I saw in my neighbor's tree was freakin HUGE ... and they claim you can watch them coming in and out of the storm sewer down the street.

My neighbor kept saying she was going to leave out poisoned hotdogs ... and, wouldn't you know, someone snitched on her. She got a call saying it was illegal to kill the racoons and if they found out she did, she'd be arrested. WTF???

Posted by: ThirtyWhat at September 18, 2006 12:21 PM

EEEP! See how upset these raccoons get me?

That SHOULD'VE read:

So, I called animal control and they asked were they inside my house or outside. I answered "Outside... for now." They said if they were outside, I could be put on a waiting list to borrow one of their traps ... or I could go buy my own trap ... but I could NOT kill them.

Posted by: ThirtyWhat at September 18, 2006 12:23 PM

Maybe if you had said it was a foaming Racoon?


Posted by: JeromeProphet at September 18, 2006 12:41 PM

This is a dangerous situation. If the city is not careful it could result in a vigilante justice where households take the law into their own hands resulting in the genocide of the racoon species. Or it may be we see a lot more racoons on the side of the road, either way it won't be pretty... :)

Posted by: Randy at September 18, 2006 12:45 PM

ThirtyWhat: We've also seen them crawling into the storm sewers. This sounds like not only a public nuisance, but a health hazard. The one I saw last evening was the size of a bear cub. And, it was acting erratic.

Posted by: Marie at September 18, 2006 1:36 PM


"Raccoons can carry Baylisascaris roundworm, distemper, and rabies. Of the approximately 8,000 documented animal rabies cases in the United States, raccoons constitute approximately 50% (Krebs et al. 1996, pp. 2031-2044)."

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raccoon

I've spoken to the mayor's office. They're not interested, having referred me to the Director of the County Health Dept. I have a call in. I think to be honest, I should tell him "I'm blogging this." Or not?

Posted by: Marie at September 18, 2006 1:57 PM

In central Maryland the big majority of rabies cases are from raccoons. I've been told that because raccoons are nocturnal, if you see one walking about during the day, it's probably rabid.

Posted by: Kem White at September 18, 2006 2:08 PM

Thanks, Kem. That's good information to have. I'm expecting a call from the county guy any time now. I fully expect him to blow of the racoon situation as a non-problem.

Also, and not that this has anything to do with anything, but, I think I should start spelling raccoon with two c's.

Posted by: Marie at September 18, 2006 3:02 PM

Raccoons gotta eat, too.

Posted by: The 26th Man at September 19, 2006 2:02 PM

Once upon a time -- not that long ago, though -- one of my kids had a pet rabbit we kept in a hutch we built in the backyard. The hutch was built high off the ground because we knew we had raccoons around. Not that that concerned the raccoons. One night about 3 a.m., I heard one or more of them fussing around outside; I looked out the bedroom window and could see they were trying to get at the rabbit. So then I did something I don't recommend others try: I went outside with a baseball bat.

There were four raccoons out there. Three of them went trundling toward the hole in my neighbor's fence that they used to get into our yard. The fourth one went under our back porch. What I love about raccoons is how bold they are. The three I could see turned around and just stared at me from what they thought was a safe distance of about 30 feet. I put down my bat and picked up an empty flower pot and threw it at them; I hit one of them in the head, which prompted a kind of yelp and a retreat all the way to, but not through, the hole in the fence. I picked up the bat and ran toward them, and I think they finally realized they had a deranged human on their hands, because they beat it. Just then, my wife says, "Watch out! One of them is behind you!" I turned around, and the fourth raccoon had emerged from its hiding place and was actually advancing on me. When I turned around, it stopped. Then I ran at it. It started running back toward the porch. It made the mistake of stopping just before it ducked back under cover ; it reared up and snarled, and I gave it a good one-handed whack in the ribs with the Louisville Slugger.

The noise it made: a scream I think could have been heard a block away. It then ran after the first three raccoons and disappeared through the fence. I don't know how intelligent raccoons are, but after that, they seemed to avoid our yard. I like to think that the raccoons passed the word in their little storm-sewer society about the crazy guy with the bat, and they knew enough to avoid the premises.

(They are still all over the neighborhood, though; just the other night several of them were making a terrible racket up the street while I was out walking our dog; it was all I could do to keep him from going over to investigate. And the advice regarding rabies and seeing raccoons in the daytime? That's right on and also goes for skunks and opossums, both of which are also pretty common in these parts.)

Posted by: Dan at September 20, 2006 10:15 AM

What a great story. This story has so many excellent elements, not the least of which, you saving a little bunny with a baseball bat. But, my favorite part is Kate as "lookout man."

I once ran over a rat with a car.

We have possums around here too. And, I think the skunks are getting closer.

Posted by: Marie at September 20, 2006 7:50 PM