October 09, 2016

Touch Not the Coon Bot a Glove

Raccoon #1 finally leaves the carrier.
The wind was blowing 40 mph, it looked like the Aryan Brotherhood was setting up a campsite on the road coming in, and the two raccoons would not come out of their carrier.

So there is no video of excited animals returning to the wild with this post. It's like they were saying, "We're basically nocturnal, and we don't know where we are, and we've been jostled in this box for a hour, and we don't want to come out. And what happened to our buddies?"

Even in hot weather they would sleep in a heap.
Our friends the wildlife rehabilitators had ended up with twenty orphaned young raccoons this year, through various circumstances.

By late September they were passing them out like late-season zucchini to game wardens and other people who could re-locate them.

M. and I agreed to take two to a state wildlife area in an adjacent county. It is surrounded by dry piñon-juniper forest, but through it runs a stream with an extensive riparian area of big cottonwoods and underbrush. There are raccoons there already, most likely, but maybe two more could find territories of their own.

The coons were getting big and rowdy. Our rehabilitator friends are a married couple, retired. She put on her welder's gloves and attempted to pull one coon out of the pile in the back of the Dogloo
Angry snarls erupted. She jerked her hands back.

"Get the noose pole," she told her husband. He fetched it, I held the carrier, and we soon had the day's two snarling release coons boxed to go.

"If they have a bad experience with humans, that's a good thing," she said philosophically.

At the end of a long gravel road, M. and I neared the bridge over that creek that I had mentally envisioned as a release area. But there was a newish vehicle parked there — angler? hiker?

Hmmm. Trash bags full of . . . stuff all over the place. Three well-fed pit bulls. Two young guys, one shirtless—not scraggly looking, but buff with crew cuts, not waving but giving us cold stares.

They seemed too clean-cut (in a hard-edged way) to be homeless campers defying the "No Overnight Camping" signs. It is the wrong time of year to be planting a "pirate" marijuana grow, and if they were harvesting such, why make a big production of it? Meth cooks? Everything I could think of was negative.

I kept driving, down to the parking lot half a mile further on. It was not as a great a release site, but there were clumps of willows along a flowing irrigation ditch, and if the coons followed the water upstream, they would be by the creek. No one else was there.

We put out some puppy chow and husked ears of corn, then opened the carrier door. No action. It took a gentle prodding to get them out, whereupon they ignored the food (for now) and slunk into the willows.

I put the carrier into the Jeep, started back down the access road — and there was a dead tree fallen across it. Did I mention the high winds, a bora, in fact?

My mental inventory of tools on board turned up only a hatchet, but M. hopped out and discovered that the branches were dry and rotten. We snapped off enough that we could drive between the tree and the barbed-wire pasture fence.

And then out past the two buff guys with the pitbulls, still giving us the hairy eyeball, and down to the nearest town for a restorative pint at the brewpub.

I tried calling the district wildlife manager (game warden) who I thought had that area in his territory, just to give him a heads-up, but the call went to voice mail. (It's typical of Colorado Parks and Wildlife that you have to dig and dig to find out which DWM has exactly what district and what the boundaries area. )

So I sent him an email later. No response. You would think that he or the wildlife tech who manages the irrigation might like to know that he had Aryan Brotherhood-clones hanging around the place, but see paragraph above.

The post title comes from the saying, "Touch not the cat bot a glove," in other words, "Touch not the [Eurasian wildcat] without a glove." It's supposed to be the motto of several Scottish clans, in the same spirit as "Don't tread on me."

1 comment:

Galen Geer said...

I think finding a wildlife officer at any time and in any state is a losing proposition. Glad the fuzzy raccoons are in their new home--I hope. Glg