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Just a simple gal living on the outskirts of Portland making ends meet. I have lived in Portland for over 20 years and I am happy to call it home. On this blog you will find everything from cooking to my crazy life. I hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Urban Raccoons

Well folks it is that time of year again all across Portland urban raccoons are relocating and coming to a neighborhood near you… that’s right soon they will be looking for shared housing with you and your family. Through the years I have had my run in’s with these furry, bandit faced, nocturnal mammals and I am here to tell you it is not fun. My first encounter with a raccoon was some years back. I was leaving for work one morning, before the rooster crows, I went out to my car and behind me in the driveway was a large raccoon just sitting there looking at me. It was obvious from his disheveled appearance that he was either very ill, or had spent one hell of a night out on the town. I slowly walked towards him, hoping he would leave, he did not move, hiss or show any kind of objection to me invading his space. I backed away slowly, got in my car and left for work hoping that he would be gone when I returned. However, that was not to be the case. I came home from work early fearing the worst and getting exactly that. The raccoon was still in driveway and very near deaths door. I called the local animal shelter, Fish and Wildlife, Audubon Society, Zoo, Police, State Patrol everyone I could think of and was told repeatedly that “we don’t handle that” and that the only way to rid myself of this dying raccoon was 80.00 and a company called ---------- to come out and take care of it. Eighty dollars to a single mom with two teenagers is a lot of money. In the end, I had a neighbor dispatch the raccoon and we buried it in the back yard. Not at all something, I wanted to do but completely necessary.
My second unsavory encounter with raccoons in Portland was 6 years ago this past August. It started with a putrid stench coming from somewhere in/under my house…having a teen aged son the first place I looked was under his bed (and they say Alaskan Crab Fishing is dangerous)…no nothing there, not clean, but no hazardous waste…or at least not enough to create the putrid odor. I figured I being an unlucky homeowner had some sort of sewer leak under my house, so I called for a free plumbing inspection to come out the next day…the smell got worse…The boyfriend left for Burning Man the same day the plumber showed up. The plumber came in sniffed around asked where the odor was the worst… in 85 degree heat it smelled awful everywhere. He wanted to know where the trap door was to the crawl space, which was in my son’s bedroom. He opened up the trap door that led to the crawl space under the house took half a sniff and slammed it shut. I asked him “What is it?” He stated firmly “Not a sewer leak I guarantee it, what you have is a dead animal and a big one too”. I asked him if he was going to get it out from under my house he said with a chuckle, “No that’s not my job, but I can recommend a company (see company above) that for about 300.00 will crawl under your house and remove it. At the time, I was receiving the information from the plumber I was on the phone with the boyfriend who was speeding his way to the playa and all the Bohemian delights Burning Man had to offer. The boyfriend’s words to me were “Honey if you can handle the smell until I get home, I promise I will go under the house and get rid of it as soon as I get back. I decided I was tough enough to put up with it…besides I spent the hottest part of the day away from home in an air-conditioned office. Amazingly enough the raucous smell was gone in a mere 4 days. Mother Nature and maggots took care of it. I know…gross. Whatever…I call it efficient.
Winter of that same year another raccoon decided to move in lock stock and fleas under my house. She also brought along her half grown kits. They made such a racket at night that it would wake us up or just keep us awake. The noises drove the dogs to madness they would wander from heating vent to heating vent and barking and growling down into them, and our kitten took to staring down the heating vents in the kitchen with all the curiosity and intensity of a young mongoose waiting to kill his first cobra. The other two cats, much older and wiser, were afraid of going outside. Honestly, I did not blame them; the new tenant was a large female raccoon with her yearling offspring, 3 of them. We did what any normal family does we researched on how to get rid of them. The internet is filled with ideas on how to get rid of raccoons, but many things would require hurting them or killing them and I did not want any part of that. I do not like them but I do not hate them enough to hurt them. We finally found something we hoped would work for us. We gave the raccoons talk radio…that is right we lowered a portable radio down to them tuned to 620 KPOJ Portland. No, we were not trying to raise their political awareness, contrary to popular belief; we had read that having to listen to humans in such a close proximity to where they are trying to raise a family would drive them out. Within a week the talk radio did the trick and as soon as we were sure they were gone, we boarded up any access under the house they might have. Over the years, they have tried to get back under the house to the point of trying to tear the boards off covering the access holes. Whenever I see a raccoon in the backyard, I jump off the porch screaming and yelling. I am fairly sure the neighbors think I am nuts and this explains why they do not speak to me. I do not care let them think what they will…the raccoons are gone and we can all breathe easier.

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