By PAUL WILFORD | Truckee
Reading Eve Quesnel’s article on raccoons in your February issue reminded me of two memorable incidents. The first was when I returned home after three days away and found that a family of five “bandits” had gotten into our entry room/sunroom through a cat door and managed to lock the door behind them once they were in. While incarcerated with time on their hands and plenty of water, they proceeded to excavate the baseboards, all of the electrical outlets, and climbed the window trim to leave footprints on the ceiling 16 feet above. When I returned to find 10 beady eyes looking at me from under the stairs, they left through the front door and sat at the edge of the driveway, watching as I began the lengthy cleanup.
The second incident was September of 1987 and Northern California was burning from the redwoods to Bakersfield after a three-day lightning bust. While assigned as a firefighter near Weaverville, we were constructing firelines to keep a growing fire away from the town and its watershed. About 2 a.m., while checking a line on the mountain above us that had been put in earlier in the evening, we encountered by headlamp a large raccoon mom and her brood of three walking straight down the fireline and looking pretty exhausted. She gave us a look that let us know she was not about to give up an inch of trail on that steep slope. We moved to the side to give her room, but instead of passing she took her clan up a large pine tree, walked out onto a big branch, and began to chatter at us while raking pine bark pieces down on our heads with her front paws. We beat a hasty retreat up the hill, out of her way and, in the daylight, found their tracks all the way to the creek bed at the bottom of the slope.