It was love at first sight.
Those big, brown eyes.
That cute, black nose.
The thick, beautiful fur.
I immediately named him Rocky.
He was sitting at the bottom of a plastic barrel where he had been trapped for about six hours.
He looked neither scared nor angry.
He looked almost sorrowful.
Sorry that he had been caught.
I bet he was furious at the time.
He had crawled into the trap around 4 a.m., searching for the sweet cereal that had been left inside to lure him in.
Well, he found it.
And then he found he couldn’t escape.
He rattled and rolled and shook the house.
Then he was quiet.
Then, when he got his strength back, he rattled and rolled once again.
Until finally, at least an hour later, I was sure he had passed on from fright, or a heart attack.
But here he was.
Looking disdainful that he had been busted.
Called out and being given his come-uppance.
He could have stayed if he had asked.
But he had broken in.
And rather rudely.
He had peeled away the aluminum from under our rooftop, with his oh so agile fingers, and invited himself into our attic.
He began pulling out some pink foam insulation, strewing it around the lawn.
I was worried he would start roaming around the entire ceiling of our house and drop through the drywall into our living room.
So I had to call for help.
The Varmint Control person, Terry, showed up the next morning.
He immediately surmised it was a raccoon that had done the damage.
He put up two traps on the top of the roof, one on each side of the dormer where Rocky had peeled away the aluminum to create an opening to his new home.
Terry told me I would definitely hear him when he had been caught.
Well, we sure did.
And it was frightful.
He was fighting for his life.
Terry came by around 10 the next morning to take down the traps.
And that’s when I saw Rocky, and our eyes met.
I felt sorrowful that this beautiful creature had to endure such an ordeal.
But there was no other choice.
It was either him or us.
I am sure it was him that raided our compost bin one summer night, spreading its contents all over our front lawn. I am sure it was him that raided a chickadee’s nest, and a robin’s nest in our garden.
We call them nuisance pests, but really, we are the nuisance.
Those animals were here first.
We have built our houses on their turf. On their fields. In their forests.
We have tried to displace them, but they have shown true resilience. Adaptability. Determination.
All of the animals that we now consider nuisance pests; squirrels, chipmunks, skunks, opossums, beavers, mice, deer, crows, pigeons, they were all here first.
This is their land.
But for whatever reason, supposed superiority or considering ourselves top of the food chain, we have paved paradise, and put up a subdivision.
And they have refused to move out of the neighbourhood.
Often choosing to live with us, feeding off our garbage or bird feeders, keeping warm in our attics and barns.
Some pests even keep other pests away, which is a good thing.
Others we consider pests are actually nature’s clean up crew. Take the crows and sea gulls, always happy to dine on road kill and parking lot garbage.
While Terry was investigating our attic to check on any damage Rocky may have done, he found we were also home to some mice.
Our attic insulation was rampant with tunnels.
It was a mouse penthouse!
So, they had to go too.
Traps have been set. Humane, instant kill traps so there will be no suffering.
The house has been sealed off with caulking and steel wool.
I am sorry to do that at the start of the winter.
These little cuties will have to find somewhere else to keep warm this year.
We had no choice.
It was either us or them.
They would have continued making a mess, continued multiplying and populating. And pretty soon it would be way out of control.
I am sure our cats could already hear their carrying on in the attic. I have caught Peanut a couple of times just staring at the ceiling for no apparent reason that I could see.
This has been a four day event, this un-invading of our house.
I feel upset, and not at all relieved.
I know it had to be done, but I am sad that it had to be done.
Terry made it a little easier by understanding my angst, and with his wild tales of other animal trappings. In one case, he says, a raccoon even fell through the drywall ceiling onto the kitchen counter!
Terry promised me he had released Rocky into the rural countryside somewhere later that day.
I am hopeful he has found a beautiful tree somewhere to call his new home for the winter.
Far from humans, far from houses, where his fate, if found again, may not be so forgiving.