Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Trapped Critter

Well, I did catch a critter this week.

It was several nights ago. Right outside the chicken tractor.

I don't know if it is the critter that was carrying home chicken dinners the week before.

But it was definitely nosing around the henhouse for some reason.

Is that what you call circumstantial evidence?

Anyway, here's the story:

After last week's demise of several of our egg laying chickens I decided that it was probably prudent to put out some traps. Live traps. Those big cage like contraptions where the animal walks in the opening to eat the goodies on the inside, steps on a plate that trips the door, that slams shut behind it.

I have several of these contraptions and I sat them around the chicken house and baited them with hard boiled eggs and old hamburger meat.

If I was going after a chicken eater, I reasoned, I should put in bait that a chicken eater would like.

And the first night, the night after I sat the traps out, I got up bright and early and went up to the hen house and...

The traps were empty.

And so I made sure the bait was fine and the traps were still set and the second night came around and the second morning dawned and I ran out to the traps and...

They were still empty.

So, the third night came around and the third morning (it was Sunday) and I slept in and I didn't get around to going over to the hen yard until late morning (because I wanted some fresh eggs for a late breakfast).

And there was the critter.

Sound asleep in the trap.

It wasn't a fox.

Or a bobcat.

Or even a house cat (I find the most often caught creature in my live traps to be one of our four housecats -- you would think they would learn).

NO. The trap had the second most often caught animal inside.

A raccoon.

A medium sized raccoon (seldom are traps occupied by large raccoons which seems that raccoons learn about the nature of traps a lot faster than our housecats).

Now, once I've caught it, the question is, what am I going to do with it?

If I let it go it will no doubt continue with its evil ways, only this time, making sure it avoids traps.

And I'm sure that there is someone out there that eats raccoons, but that someone isn't me.

Which leaves me with basically one option.

Relocation.

How far away do you need to relocate a raccoon to keep it from returning to its original home?

One mile? Two miles? Ten miles? A hundred?

Well, I picked up the trap (waking up the occupant) put it in the back of the pick up and drove about five miles as the crow flies.

Took the trap out of the back of the truck (this is an area more wooded and less populated with humans than our farm).

Put the trap on the ground.

Carefully lifted up the door.

And stood back.

And the raccoon, did nothing.

Instead of running for freedom, it sat there inside the trap and stared at me, not, apparently, trusting my motives.

Now, how do you get a raccoon to leave a trap?

I walked around the trap, so it would look through he open door at me.

I rocked the trap back and forth. 

I told it to get out. 

I picked up the safe end of the trap and shook it up and down.

And finally I just walked away.

And after a while, the raccoon, finally, noticed the open door, looked around. Made sure I wasn't anywhere around. And finally...

Made a run for it. Out the door and up the nearest tree.

Since then, since the relocation of the raccoon, no other chickens have disappeared in the night. I imagine it is a little bit of wishful thinking that we've solved that one problem, though.

And I should keep the traps set and baited.

Oh well.

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