Monday, October 26, 2009
Help Me Howard: Raccoons
Do you like animals? Most people would probably answer yes. Now, how much do you love them? You can care too much, and when that happens, oh, boy that's when it's time to call Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you want to see an animal lover, take a look at Lucille.
Lucille Poag: "They have each individual plates."
Lucille feeds eight yard cats, but watch what happens as the cats try to eat. Raccoons coming out of the woods behind Lucille's house try to steal the cats' food.
Lucille Poag: "They'll come on the porch, they'll take the cats' food away."
So to keep the raccoons away from her cats' bowls, Lucille put some cat food in her backyard. Did I mention she is an animal lover?
Lucille Poag: "I just feel like that they are God's creatures, just like we are, and somebody has got to help them."
This kept the raccoons away from the cats' food, but in a few short months, the food created another problem, too many raccoons started showing up.
Lucille Poag: "I have, by count, by head count, 30 coons out here."
Thirty raccoons waiting for the cat food, peeking under a fence.
Patrick: "Look at that one, so what's he waiting on?"
Lucille Poag: "Waiting on me to put my cat food on the porch, so they can come up there and eat."
But 30 raccoons is 30 too many.
Patrick: "You are in a bind."
Lucille Poag: "It's horrible, it is a very crushing, heartbreaking bind."
Lucille knew she had to do something, so she contacted state experts who told her they will go away if you stop feeding them, so she did.
Lucille Poag: "I didn't feed them for a week. I hadn't slept for a week because of crying at night because the coons are hungry. I'm sorry, I can't help it. It hurts my heart for anything to be hungry."
A trapper offered to remove the raccoons for $135 each but...
Lucille Poag: "And one guy told me, if we did, we'll euthanized them. No, that's not what I want."
Then the raccoons decided if she wouldn't bring them the food, they would come into her trailer and get it.
Lucille Poag: "They climbed up on my roof, pulled with their claws, pulled the tin back and made a big gaping hole."
Take a look at this fellow's claws if you don't think they can tear open a roof, which is why Lucille wants to find a way to move them far out into the woods to live in the wild.
Patrick: "You know, if you didn't have a heart, you wouldn't have this problem."
Lucille Poag: "Yes, sir, I know that, but I can't stand to see them hurt. I can't stand to not feed them and see them hungry."
Well, Howard, Lucille can't keep them, can't afford to feed them and can't stand the thought of someone killing the 30 animals, so legally, what can she do?
Howard Finkelstein: "Lucille has very few options. The law considers these animals wild and you cannot capture them, transport and release them somewhere else. You can hire someone to trap them, but by law, they are required to kill them, and that's why I say Lucille doesn't have many options."
I then contacted Todd Hardwick with Pesky Critters. He used a familiar phrase: that Lucille would have to use tough love, stop feeding the animals. When I said she was worried the raccoons would starve, he said absolutely not, that the cat food has made them lazy, but when that food disappears, they are wild animals, they will disperse and go back to foraging for food.
To animal experts, these wild raccoons can be dangerous and are definitely a nuisance. In that respect Lucille agrees, but...
Lucille Poag: "Even though they are a nuisance, we have a lot of people in the street that are a nuisance, but we don't go out and shoot them, right?
Patrick Fraser: "Lucille told me looking at hungry raccoons breaks her heart, so she will keep feeding them. Now, why won't the state allow you to trap them and move them? Because, they say, the raccoons will become a problem for someone else, that you are just passing the problem along.
Got a problem you are not wild about? Here is some food for thought: Let us try to help, and hopefully we won't be starved for a solution.