Last spring, my daughter Michelle complained about hearing hasty footsteps coming from the roof in the middle of the night. Joe went to check and found out some raccoons had taken residence in our roof and made a hole in it. He called a professional for help. The guy came, placed the cage at the right place, sprinkled some poison in the roof and left. A number of times, we found the bait inside the cage was taken but the animal got away. Finally the guy said that the raccoons had obviously left and there was nothing else he could do.

The raccoons are back this year because the patched hole was opened up again. This time Joe decided to handle the intruders himself. He spread mash mallows inside the cage and left it on the ground under the roof. After a couple of innocent squirrels, a raccoon was finally trapped. Needless to say my husband was quite proud of himself.

Joe spent the next day trying to figure out what to do with the animal. Late that afternoon, someone finally told him that he needed a permit for trapping wildlife. Even with the permit, one shouldn’t keep a wild animal for more than 24 hours. We were told to wait for a wildlife biologist to call us, and in the meantime we shouldn’t touch or release the raccoon.

The next morning the phone call came. About an hour later, a forest ranger showed up at our door. He informed Joe that catching the raccoon without a permit was against the law, which warranted 5 tickets. But since this was Joe’s first offense, he would only be given 1 ticket.

“Are you looking for a job?” The ranger asked Joe.

“No, but why?” Joe was puzzled.

“The ticket will be recorded as a Class B misdemeanor, nothing serious. But big companies won’t hire you when they do a criminal background check.”

“You can’t do that. I work for the government and they do a background check on me every year. It’d be ridiculous for me to lose my job over a raccoon.”

The ranger was sympathetic. He spent half an hour searching on the internet before finally offering a compromise.

“I’ll issue you a ticket for unlawful release of a wild animal. It’s not worse than a traffic violation ticket.”

Joe agreed to the proposed $120 fine. “What are you going to do with the raccoon?”

“Don’t tell your children about this, but we’ll have to shoot it because it might carry viruses. I’ll bring your cage back this afternoon, apology in advance if the bullet leaves any marks on it.”

That evening Joe went online and purchased a permit. He isn’t sure if we have got all of them, and therefore the catching has to continue. If more are trapped, we’ll have to “kill them within 24 hours without causing pain to the animal”. Joe planned to call the professional guy to come and pick them up. Whatever they do to the animal is their business.