Did they know it was the night before Trash Day, a weekly Christmas Eve-like sort of celebration for urban wildlife on the prowl, when all thru the hood the folks roll out the goods?
It's not unusual to see a few raccoons skulking around our new neighborhood as the sun goes down. For the most part, they are discreet, padding on fingery little raccoon feet. But seven masked marauders coming up the driveway bold as you please?
Perhaps a band of younger brothers, not quite the portly size of the patriarchal types I see lumbering up the linden trees at dusk. These were a bit smaller and seemed to be working in unison, an organized operation meant to ravage, not the trash, but the dogwood berries drooping over the fence.
Of course I grabbed my camera to capture the scene, and now that I live next to a fellow blogger (from that other paper across the way) I sensed a little friendly competition. Hey, she may travel to far flung places, but I am still known as the critter spotter.
She graciously yelled across the yard that I was awfully brave moving in for a closer shot. My husband rolled his eyes from the porch and offered that I was only brave when it came to critters. You can be a bit braver with a zoom lens.
As I approached the group I figured they were preoccupied with pillaging and plundering the fruit, and they wouldn't mind my presence. And then I heard a low, throaty growl. I assumed one of our dogs, but no, there at my feet one of the gang was doing his best to look and sound menacing. And it kind of worked. I backed off a bit and tried to frame several at once while they struggled to stay balanced on the drooping branches while stripping the berries. It was quite a show.
Raccoons are one of those realities of urban life. While it's legal to trap and shoot them if they are damaging your property that doesn't work (or sound humane) in these tight spaces where they seem to thrive. You are left to outwit or just enjoy their antics.
Another painless way to enjoy raccoons may be social media. I've actually followed several raccoons on Twitter. Twitter is populated with quite a few humorous "animals" that share their thoughts as they go through their day. I haven't seen him for awhile but City Raccoon used to tweet his adventures as he ambled about... "scuffle, scuffle, ooh, sweet corn" and such.
When not availing themselves to your garden produce or garbage can, they like frogs, insects and unfortunately, bird eggs.
If you consult the Minnesota DNR they will tell you that making sure you don't leave unsecured garbage or pet food outside will go a long way in discouraging their appearances and anti-social behavior. Speaking of social, don't attempt to pet them or keep them as pets. They can get pretty nasty with those claws. According to the DNR, you should worry more about rabies in skunks than raccoons but it's still a good idea not to tangle with either.
My neighbor may have got the best raccoon shot later that week after all, she caught one standing upright on the diving board with arms outstretched. Darn.