Winter is coming, and they’re looking for a cozy place to hunker down, stay warm and dry, and maybe raise a family. And like relatives stopping in for a vacation, they’re cute at first, but more than likely will overstay their welcome.
They’re raccoons—and people are easily charmed by their whimsical face-mask expressions and almost-human dexterity. Who can resist Ricky Raccoon and his cartoon-cute forest friends, the chipmunks and flying squirrels? There’s an allure to luring them, and it seems like a shame to just throw away that stale bread or cake.
We all “know better,” but homeowners are constantly inviting wildlife critters onto lawns, porches and patios, whether it’s conscious [look how cute… he’s eating the peanuts!] or inadvertent [Help, there’s a skunk in the dumpster!].
The problem is, many otherwise-wild small mammals have adopted all too well to living around humans and often manage to move right in, where they wreak havoc with their chewing habits, lack of toilet training and unattended deaths in hard-to-find places. Plus, diseases such as rabies and various parasites can be a threat to people and their pets when wild animals come in contact. And what about the ubiquitous Mr. Mouse?
Experts agree that mice, and even rats, can be found anywhere, and are considered vermin—not “wildlife,” which is treated differently under federal and state regulations. Tom Drapeau, president of Freedom Pest Control in Topsfield, Massachusetts, reports some of the experiences he’s had at residential communities with furry critters—vermin or otherwise. “The main problem is with skunks and raccoons… they have become associated with dumpsters especially. We had a 25-unit [condo] community in Peabody where their dumpster became a regular feeding ground [and] we rounded up a couple dozen raccoons.”