More Backyard News

This, my friends, is a fairly recent raccoon photo I took in my backyard one night a few weeks ago. I keep chasing them away — sometimes, four or five of them at a time — but they don't go far. They regroup in my neighbor's yard and then select a lookout to peek through the hole in the fence to see if I'm gone yet. That's what this one was doing. Once I've scared them off seven or eight times, they usually get the message and move on. I don't feel good about this as they're so cute and obviously so hungry. Still, I decided that it was for their own good, my own good and the own good of the cats I feed.

For a time, I tried getting rid of them with Dried Coyote Urine. The operating premise of this product is that the raccoons come around, smell the familiar (to them) scent and assume coyotes lurk nearby and therefore wherever they are is no place for a raccoon to be. I didn't quite understand this. These raccoons were birthed in this area where there are no coyotes. Were they born with an inbred, instinctive recognition of this aroma?

Nevertheless, some folks on the Internet said it worked great and as we all know, the postings of total strangers on the Internet are never wrong. I went through a couple of shaker cans of the stuff, sprinkling it liberally around my property but did not see that it forestalled a single raccoon visitation. I got to wondering if maybe living outside as they do had caused all of them to develop bad colds. I know when I have a cold, I couldn't smell Dried Coyote Urine to save my life.

Eventually though, my cynical side decided it was a scam. I'm figuring some guy was living out in the desert on barren land where nothing could be built and nothing could grow. One day he turned to his wife and said, "Hortense" — you just know she was named Hortense — "Hortense, there's gotta be some way to make some money off this property I own. So far, it's only good for coyotes to piss in." And Hortense said, "Well then, maybe you can create a demand for that."

He gave her a look and said, "A demand for coyote piss? Are you outta your mind, woman? What in the name of Euell Gibbons could I tell people that would make them rush to buy coyote piss? Plus, it would be dangerous to collect it and a bitch to bottle it and —"

"Sell it dried," she replied. That would be easier than bottling it. As for why you'd tell them they needed it, I dunno. Tell them anything. Tell them it wards off flu. Tell them it grows hair. Tell them it scares raccoons away. Anything."

"That's the stupidest damned thing in the world," he told her. "People aren't going to pay good money for…Hey, wait a minute. What was that you said about driving raccoons away?"

I'm convinced it worked something like that. The same companies also sell other kinds of dried animal pee, each of which is supposed to scare off a different animal. I haven't tried any of the others and won't, though I briefly thought of one that would be worth the gamble. When Christopher Hitchens was alive, they could have packaged a dried version of his urine and I would have tried a few cans. Anything to scare off people who come to my door and using all the same techniques and rhetoric of folks selling magazine subscriptions, try to get me to adopt their religion.  I wish they could be scared off as easily as the raccoons.

By the way: It's the reflected flash from my camera that creates the glowing eyeball effect you see in the above photo.  The raccoons don't really have a sense of magic hypnotic powers emanating from their eyes.  But the Jehovah's Witnesses do.