I’m not kidding.
I think I’ve mentioned it before, I have raccoons in my yard. The block on which I live has several groves of eucalyptus and “wild, untamed” Valley floor. I live in a tiny house in the center of the block, off the street. It’s like being in the middle of the woods, right in the center of suburbia. This mini-habitat supports hawks, owls, way too many squirrels that eat my hibiscus flowers, opossum, feral cats and, yes, a number of raccoons. At least three, in fact, one of them very large. I thought this was charming.
Until I woke last night at 5am to a terrible sound.
I am not going into the details of what I discovered outside, or how I wish I’d only woken five minutes sooner, or how I had to call my father, who lives next door, because the kitten (more of a juvenile cat, one I’d never seen before) was too, too horrifically hurt to even transport to a pet emergency room. It was macabre. I have never had to kill an animal to be humane before. Neither my father or I were able to get back to sleep.
When I came upon the terrible tableau the first thing I saw was the giant raccoon, which stood on its hind legs and stared, confrontational, at me, coming up a little over 2 feet tall (and me at five feel tall) . Then it hopped to the top of the fence and clambered away, leaving the kitten behind.
My maternal instincts are roused and raging in protection of the little brood of cats that call my block home. Several of them have basically become my pets, even though (to their chagrin) I can’t let them inside (I’m allergic). If…that…happened to any of the little creatures I’ve come to love and care for and pet (immediately washing my hands afterwards, or I end up with a fit of the sneezles) and talk to every day (please no comment about how I’ve become a crazy blue-haired cat lady) I would take off after that raccoon myself and burn down every tree on this block until I got my hands on it.
It was that bad.
I am a compassionate person. I do not like killing, not even black widow spiders. I coax ants out of my house by watering nearby plants so they’ll look for water outside (which actually works, BTW). But what I saw at 5am this morning, and what my father and I had to do, roused my very first impulse to buy a BB gun.
This is not the first time the raccoon has confronted me. I’ve had two occasions now where I’ve stood on my front step with it about six feet away, on its hind legs, glaring at me, making funny raccoon growling noises in its throat. I stood up tall and raised my arms and told it to get the fuck away from my cats, who were standing huddled on the stoop behind me. If I accidentally came upon it in the dark or startled it, I would not be surprised if it attacked me. It has attacked my parents’ dog next door–the dog I rescued as a puppy & brought to them–slashing his snout, sending him to the pet emergency room for stitches.
I do not want to kill this creature, but I can’t risk this happening again.
I called the SPCA and they said the county policy is to euthanize any wild animal caught in an urban context.
My family does have an old, large raccoon trap that we used decades ago to remove another problem raccoon from the yard. I was a child, so I don’t know what became of it, if my dad took it to the hills or if he took it to Animal Control.
And of course I know if I actually *did* shoot this creature with a BB gun, whether killing or–even more horrible–NOT killing it–I would be as devastated as I am now. Fearsome, yes, and deadly, apparently; but it’s an amazing, formidable and impressive creature. It is so amazing. I cannot fathom killing it.
Does anyone know of any solutions or organizations that help with these sorts of problems?