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  From the
  Raccoon solution on the nose
So much for getting rid of the beast cheaply
  Sharon Dunn,
National Post

A raccoon
I had been away for only a week, but when I got back I discovered that a big fat raccoon had taken up residence in my walls. Yes, this is Toronto, which seems to have a raccoon population of about eight million, beating the humans about three to one, and giving Toronto the distinction of being Raccoon Capital of the World.

I first saw the beast jump in a hole in my garage wall and disappear, a sure sign all was not well. I love animals, and I tried to live in harmony with my new tenant, but this guy was living inside the wall right behind my bed.

I could live with that, but not the racket in the middle of the night. Had we been on the same schedule, it wouldn't have been so bad, but I'm just not as nocturnal as I used to be.

He seemed friendly enough, hanging nonchalantly around the door at dinnertime, sharing food with the cat. However, friends pointed out that raccoons do a lot of damage and suggested I call a removal service immediately.

But when I heard it costs about $200 or so to get rid of raccoons, I resisted. No way I was going to spend that kind of money.

"Just buy a trap," said a friend, "just $44 at Canadian Tire, no big deal. Once you trap it, you take it to a ravine and let it go." It sounded easy, and I liked the sound of just $44. So I bought one.

My trapper pal had told me to use sardines for bait, but I was now in money-saving mode. Why buy sardines when I have leftover chicken in the fridge?

So I gingerly put some chicken inside the crate, then settled down for the night. Suddenly, I jerked awake. There was a racket out on the deck and that wasn't my raccoon I was smelling.

I fretted until first light, then tiptoed outside to inspect the trap. Sure enough, I had trapped a skunk, and he wasn't happy. I knew what I had to do.

Frantically, I picked up the phone. "$125 to remove the skunk," the animal-removal service said.

"$125?" I balked, but then imagined myself carrying a skunk to the ravine.

Defeated, I told the wildlife removers to come over.

Once they had the skunk in custody, I offered them the trap (albeit reeking of skunk goop) at a good price. I was still trying to save money.

"Twenty dollars," I told them (standing at a good distance, because, of course, they'd been skunked).

They shook their heads. They'd done this before, and they knew I'd give them the trap for free -- indeed, I pleaded with them to take it off my hands.

It seems raccoons love sardines. Skunks don't.

By the next morning, the pros had trapped the resident raccoon with a proper trap (the sides covered in wood) and his garage entry into the walls of my house was repaired.

All for just $225 plus tax. Plus, of course, the $125 for the removal of the skunk. And $44 for the cage. Almost $400.

If only I'd bought the sardines.

  Last update: May 6, 2009
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