As usual, Mrs. Yeoman Farmer turned out to be right. In a recent post, I told the story of the odd-looking juvenile raccoon that turned up in our pasture on Sunday afternoon. Given how pathetic it seemed, and how completely non-threatening, I just didn’t have the heart to shoot it. MYF suggested, however, that it could be sick or have something else seriously wrong with it — precisely because it was sitting so lethargically in our pasture, and not running away from me. We agreed that if the animal turned up again, I should not hesitate to dispatch it.
Well, Mr. Raccoon did turn up again. And he did have something seriously wrong. Thursday morning, I found him in the pasture, much closer to the barn than on Sunday. However, I didn’t need to dispatch him. He was already dead.
As I found a paper bag in which to dispose of the body, I was kicking myself for not pulling the trigger on Sunday and putting him out of his misery sooner. Oh well. Live and learn.
Still, I couldn’t help wondering why this disoriented raccoon turned up on our property at all, looking like he had no place to go. Why wasn’t he in a den?
Then I started thinking about what had been going on around us. For the last couple of weeks, County work crews had cut down dozens of trees along our road. Some of these trees were on the small side, but others were enormous (our son counted upwards of 80 rings on one stump across the street from us).
All this work is being done in preparation for a major re-paving project this coming summer; in the meantime, it’s been like living in the middle of a logging operation. At least we’re getting a year or so’s worth of firewood out of it.
Anyway, back to Mr. Raccoon. With all the old trees that have been coming down, I wonder how many raccoon dens came down with them? I’m actually kind of surprised I haven’t seen more disoriented coons wandering around. It’s entirely possible this little guy got displaced from his den, and didn’t know where else to go. Given that he was so young, he may not have been familiar with other options.
It’s also possible that he was injured in some way when his tree came crashing to the ground. It wouldn’t surprise me if raccoons suffer traumatic brain injury in the same way humans do. And this raccoon certainly did look “dazed and confused.”
I suppose we’ll never know for sure exactly what happened to him. But at least we do know that an obviously-sick animal’s suffering is now over.