I have dealt with three of these rascals.
Catching the third one, however, was a matter not noted in any record that I could find on significant events. Three attempts were made to catch him. Although the first attempt was, indeed, an exciting one, and the second attempt was nearly unbelievable, the third one was unbelievable.
The first attempt was a simple matter of just baiting the trap as usual for any culprit. On the following morning, when I opened the tool-house door, I could hardly believe what I saw. All the bait in the bowl was gone — the bowl had been licked clean. The trap had been sprung and the cage was empty.
On the next day, I set the trap again. On the following morning, when I opened the tool-house door, everything on the shelves had been pulled down on the floor, and the cage was turned on its side, lying empty in the middle of the floor. And again, all the bait had been eaten and the bowl licked clean. Apparently, there was not enough bait for a full meal; as a consequence, he took his anger out on my tool house.
I thought it was a typical scenario for a Walt Disney cartoon.
The inference here is that this animal was experienced in dealing with traps. During the times he visited the tool house, he seemed to have studied the trap and how was he going to get at the bait without going into the cage and stepping on the trigger.
During the course of cheating the trap, he carefully worked from the outside the cage. He seemed to have known what would happen to him, and so would reach through the heavy wire mesh and pull out the bait.
He did this two consecutive times until I realized that some revisions had to be made to the trap. I attached blocks of wood on the end of the cage where the bait was located so that he couldn’t reach through wire mesh to pull out the bait. This time, thinking that he would have to go through the cage, stepping on the trigger plate to get to the bait, was a sure thing. Setting the trap for the third time, I placed some small bits of bait at the entrance of the cage, just for an appetizer. Nailing the cage to the floor and blocking off the end where he can’t pull out the bait might just work. If he escapes this time, I’ll have to believe some unbelievable facts.
When I opened the tool-house door the following morning, I saw a cage stuffed with a huge, full-grown raccoon.
He looked like an old-timer who had been trapped before and had built up an experience that taught him how to eat the bait and escape the trap, too.
The blocks of wood on the end of the cage had been pawed, gnawed and pulled-at until he finally gave up. He probably was very hungry, and it was time he had to take some chances. He had eaten the appetizer and licked the bowl. The grand prize was a full bowl of bait inside at the far end. The trap’s trigger was between him and the grand prize. He probably was so hungry that he got careless and made that fatal mistake.
The raccoon appeared so angry at being tricked that he didn’t even eat the grand prize. Trying to get out, he bent the trigger plate; I had no idea that he was just that strong. Several times in the early morning hours, before opening the tool-house door, I heard him ramming the end of the cage, trying to open the cage door.
Although I had been satisfied at getting my kicks, I don’t think I will do this again. I also was satisfied that the game warden assured me that the raccoon will be returned safely to the wild.