Opinion: Raccoon wars are raging

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It’s quiet now, but it may just be an uneasy truce. After all, the battle with the raccoon started more than a year ago.

Last April I climbed the ladder to clean the winter accumulation from the gutters and discovered a hole in the roof. A raccoon had ripped up shingles and chewed away wood to make a hole big enough to get into the attic.

At the time I guessed it was a female looking for a warm and cozy place to raise a family. I also recalled hearing small animal thumping and bumping in the middle of the night. At the moment I thought it might be a squirrel skittering across the roof. The hole told a different story.

I got a lot of advice about getting rid of the critter – everything from spending thousands of dollars in extermination fees to playing loud music, which would irritate the animal and force it to leave. Sadly, I didn’t have thousands of dollars to pay an exterminator, and the kind of music that would drive out a raccoon would likely drive me out first.

I decided instead to try the one suggestion that made sense and didn’t require a second mortgage. I saturated a large wad of paper towels with ammonia and shoved it into the hole in the roof. Then I sealed up the hole, removed one of the soffit vents at the bottom of the roof and covered the vent opening with paper.

A couple hours later the paper had been torn away. The raccoon was gone and I breathed a big sigh of relief.

Fast forward to last week. I climbed the ladder to purge the gutters once more, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Right next to the original hole was a new one. The raccoon was back.

Once again, wads of ammonia-soaked paper towels. Once again the open soffit vent. And, once again, the animal made its escape.

Even so, I’m not celebrating any major victory just yet. The raccoon is still out there. And it obviously remembered how comfortable our attic was.

Instead, I’ll just mark my calendar for next April. And buy a fresh jug of ammonia.


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