Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Wiley Raccoon


I've always heard that raccoons were pretty smart, and now I have seen it first hand. I set up a remote camera along a trail that had bobcat, skunk, deer and raccoon tracks. I baited the area with cans of sardines hanging from the strands of wire on a fence that bordered the trail by taking some screw eyes and screwing them into one end of each can and then used a zip tie to attach them to the wire. I then opened the cans allowing the oily contents to dribble onto the ground and the robust odor of fish to waft into the air. Surely this will attract something....bobcats I hoped. Upon returning the next morning I hurriedly removed the SD card from the remote camera and inserted it into my digital camera to see what was captured. There climbing the fence in one photo was a raccoon. Picture after picture showed nothing but the wiley raccoon. All of the cans that had been attached to the fence had been removed, cleaned out and scattered. Now in order to remove the cans from the fence wire they would either have to have been yanked free or unscrewed from the screw eyes. I took one of the cans and reattached it to one of the eyes and pulled on it to see how easy or difficult it would be. I found that you had to really pull hard and steady to finally get the can to come loose. I also noted that when I pulled the can free it caused the hole where the eye had been attached to protrude. In other words you could tell it had been pulled loose. Checking the other two cans showed that they had not been pulled loose, but unscrewed. If you've ever looked at a raccoon's forepaws or their tracks you'll note that they look like little human hands. They have five fingers and are very adept at using them. Raccoons have been known to turn doorknobs, open garbage cans, unhook door latches, and now remove tins of sardines that are screwed to fences!

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