Raccoon Relocation

(late May 2016)

Executive Summary

I was called by Rich, Starkville MS Animal Control officer, to help capture a raccoon family (mama + 2 kits) for humane relocation. We were successful; hopefully the family is safe in their new location away from pesky, interfering humans. The video of the capture was discussed on the Right This Minute web site.

Details

It was mid-afternoon, and I had returned from some volunteer work at Noxubee refuge banding Red-cockaded woodpecker chicks. I had just finished unpacking the truck when the Kat Fone yowled. It was Rich from Animal Control. I quickly told him that I could help with whatever cat was stuck in a tree as I had my climbing clothes on. He was silent for a minute, and then said the situation was a bit different - he needed help capturing a mama raccoon and some kits that were 30 feet up a tree. It was my turn to be silent for a minute, and then I thought "What the heck, will give it a try" and so I told him that I would be there in 20 minutes. The relocation was necessary as the home owner was being insistent about it, and to make matters worse, one of the kits had fallen out of the tree the previous day and wandered around a bit before the mama corralled it and brought it back up the tree.

When I arrived at the house, located in a suburban area of Starkville, Rich led me to the tree and pointed at the den which was about 30 feet up. The mama raccoon was clearly visible. I saw that I could put a rope above the den and climb up on the opposite side of the tree out of sight of the raccoons. A young man named Cameron (rising Jr at Starkville High, wide receiver on the football team) help me with the rope install. He asked me what the plan was, and I said that I was not too sure, since this was my first try at capturing raccoons. I told that I probably only had about a 20% chance of capturing the mama -- if that failed, I would get the kits and then Rich would try to trap the mama raccoon overnight.

I started up, and was soon above the den looking down. I could see mama raccoon curled up, occasionally changing position. I pulled up the rescue pole and started trying to capture mama. The angle made it difficult to position the capture loop, but mama made it easier on me by refusing to leave the den no matter how much I fidgeted about her with the pole. It took about 5 minutes and several misses before I snagged her securely about the hips. I dragged her out the den and soon had her hanging below me. She was too big to go in my net, and I could not lower her because there were several limbs between me and the ground that she would simply grab on to. I finally decided to descend the rope with her hanging below me, and I pulled her off of whatever limb she grabbed on to as she passed it. I finally reached the ground where Rich put her in a cage.

After some water and a breather, I started back up to the retrieve the kits. I saw one kit come out of the den when I captured mama, and it was still out. I put the Kat bag on my hand and tried to descend to the den to grab it. However, the kit saw me coming and in trying to get away, fell to the ground. In retrospect, I should have used my net. Rich picked the kit up, and after a few seconds, it started squalling angrily and Rich reported that it was ok. That made me feel better, so I turned my attention back to the den. I could hear some baby raccoon-like sounds, but I could not see anything. I finally realized that the tree hollow went up into the trunk out of my sight, and that that sounds were coming from that. I lowered my head and looked up, and I could just see the tip of a raccoon tail hanging down; the kit had climbed up into the hole. I reached up and pulled out the squalling kit. I transferred the kit from my Kat bag to the net so that I could search for more. I reached my hand as far up into the hole as I could, and listened carefully, and could not find any more. The neighbors had reported seeing only two kits, so I felt confident that I had them all. I descended to the ground and handed the kit over to Rich for safe keeping. Rich assured me that they would be relocated safely to a new home. I hope the raccoon family is doing well; away from pesky, interfering humans.