The Raccoon Wars

We’re at war again. Oh, we’re not about guns and smart-bombs (isn’t that an oxymoron?) and terrorizing our Earthly neighbors—we’re just trying to figure out a way to keep the raccoons out of the duck and bird feed storage. It’s a war of mind and skill, not murder.

All winter we keep the feed in metal garbage cans outside on the porch. No problem. But with the riotous explosion of spring, the raccoons awaken and are famished. In additional to a ravenous appetite, they also have extremely clever brains and opposable thumbs. A raccoon is a formidable competitor, even for humans.

So instead of a simple push on the lids at night, we placed a cement paver on top. That worked until the raccoons were actually awake. The first signs that they were completely conscious was that the plastic liner, which hung (notice the past tense) over the lip of the can and down its side, was shredded in the morning, the lid was off and the the food supply noticeably lowered. No problem, we’ll use the bungee cords. We don’t mind sharing a bit; we like to think of ourselves as good neighbors, after all.

Two short cords, threaded through the lid handle and secured (ha) on the can handles should do the trick. “Should”, maybe, but raccoons can’t read. Off came the cords and down went the food. My “good neighbor” attitude vanished. Enough of feeding those little bandits.

The next night I twisted the cement paver into the cords and stretched them tight. With a great deal of effort, I also managed to wedge a good-sized log under the cords as well. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get in the next morning, but I knew I’d sleep soundly that night.

I did, but the ‘coons didn’t. I can just imagine the sniggering as they surrounded the can. “Look at this!!” [Snort-snort.] “Oh, those humans. What an entertaining bunch! But so stoooopid. OK, guys, let’s do it.” Chomp-chomp. BANG goes the cord as they chew through. I doubt if even one of them got clonked in the head in the process. “RESTAURANT OPEN!” one hollers to the waiting hordes. Down goes the food.

That’s it, Jodi declares. The food goes down to the basement. I agree. I’m pretty sure the raccoons can’t get into the house (though it wouldn’t surprise me if they have a key to the door stashed somewhere). OK, so we’ll schlep food cans up and down stairs every day for the rest of the summer. I can use the exercise.

But this morning I decided to google (great verb, hunh?) “animal-proof cans” and found something even a grizzly bear couldn’t break into. Big old twist-top lid. Slippery, killer-thick poly construction—they could even bounce it down the steps and not get to the food. Only $49.95. Plus shipping and handling.

I almost did it. But then it occurred to me: grizzlies don’t have opposable thumbs.

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2 thoughts on “The Raccoon Wars

  1. Ah, and we humans think we’re so smart!

    Your blog brought back memories for me of similar interactions with pine martens in a national park concession building. We also devised ever-trickier methods for keeping the varmints out of the food. Such as a six foot long 2×12 set on top of a food supply – it didn’t really work that well and I dropped it on my big toe one day…

    I came to have a grudging respect for their ingenuity and persistence even as I complained about their nightly forays. I laugh about it now – when I no longer have to deal with them.

    Thanks for providing a window on life there at Bluestone.

  2. This reminds me of the wars that your father waged on squirrels years ago. As I recall, he had no better luck that you have had. Thanks for the laugh!

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