I wasn’t sure if it was a bear or a raccoon but we’re having unwanted nighttime visitors damaging our bird feeders. I’ve had large bears damage bird feeder before and there was no mistaking big bear damage. The feeders were completely ripped apart and we were finding parts busted up a month later all around our 5-acre country parcel.
This year it’s different. There’s only small occasional damage. We’ve spotted small bears around nearby fields before. That’s not unusual with an estimated 28,000 bears living in Wisconsin according to my Alexa. I had found a large pile of excrement out near the apple trees. That big pile of bear poop had put my wife and young boys on guard. No one is taking mulch out after dark.
We had a mystery to solve Dr. Watkins. My thoughts were small bear or a little masked bandit, a raccoon. My wife Nanc’ee requested I add a large feeder next to our bedroom window this spring. The birds loved it and what great viewing we had. We’ve all seen video of raccoons eating along a stream, washing their food and little hands as they eat. Compared to a big bear devouring a section of a cornfield raccoon are dainty. Don’t get me wrong, raccoon are wild, mean and dangerous when they want to be and should be avoided. They carry lots of parasites and will prey on things we appreciate like nesting birds. Plus with an estimated 3.5 million raccoons in Wisconsin according to DNR statistics I’m betting on them being the bandits.
Fast forward to a couple nights ago. I’m awakened by my new puppy in his kennel outside our bedroom, or was I? I’m waiting to hear whining indicating Deke, my new Small Munsterlander pup needed to go outside. Instead I hear something bang right below the bedroom. We turned a 3 season large porch, mostly windows for walls into our master bedroom. Now something was banging below on support beams. It’s 2 AM and I’m not going out to investigate and no matter how nicely I ask my darling wife Nanc’ee is not at all interested.
I’m up at the crack of dawn, about 9:00 AM with a dog to check it out. Brave Windy, goes under the porch several times to assure me there is nothing there. My wife was gone to work so I had to trust the dog. Brady, my 12 year old keeps way back. Further investigation reveals the suet feeder and the 2x2 are gone. I also notice a small piece of siding that matches our home that was attached to the side of the feeder is missing too. I’m feeling more like Sherlock Holmes all the time. 4:00 AM the next night I’m awakened again, Nanc’ee turns on her flashlight phone and is greeted to a large momma raccoon and 2 young a foot away. It’s a raccoon smorgasbord. I offer Nanc’ee my shotgun and headlamp. She rolls over saying goodnight. I wonder if Brady’s awake.
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.