Cat-killing raccoons on prowl in west Olympia
By STEVE POWELL
OLYMPIA - Raccoons are cute, until they kill one of your cats.
That is what a west Olympia neighborhood is learning this summer.
Raccoons have killed about 10 cats in a three-block area near the Garfield Nature Trail at Harrison Avenue West and Foote Street Southwest.
Problem wildlife coordinator Sean Carrell of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife called the situation "bizarre, weird."
"I've never heard a report of 10 cats being killed. It's something we're going to have to monitor," he said. He added that they may have to bring in trappers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The problem got so bad that residents Kari Hall and Tamara Keeton even started a Raccoon Watch after having an emotional neighborhood meeting attended by about 40 people.
"It was a place for people to mourn and cry," Hall said.
At the meeting, they encouraged people to stop feeding the raccoons. They also decided to keep their pets and pet food inside. And they decided to carry pepper spray to drive off raccoons that attack again.
Keeton and Pam Corwin have decided to have "cat coops" built so their pets can go outside and have some room to roam, with protection.
It's not just cats being attacked. Five raccoons actually ganged up on and carried off a little dog, who survived.
One thing that makes these raccoons scary is they have no fear. One neighbor threw firecrackers at them to try to scare them off, and it didn't even bug them, Hall said.
"It's a new breed," Keeton said. "They're urban raccoons, and they're not afraid."
"There's one really big bad dude," she added.
"He was the biggest raccoon I've ever seen. He was a monster," added Tony Benjamins, whose family has had two cats killed.
The raccoons are so bold they bit Lisann Rolle when she tried to fling three of them off of her cat, Lucy.
"I was watching her like a hawk, but she snuck out," Rolle said of Lucy. "Then I heard this hideous sound - a coyote-type high pitch ...
"It was vicious. They were focused on ripping her apart."
Lucy had been a member of the family for seven years. Rolle received rabies shots as a precaution.
Rolle still gets upset talking about it.
"I'm afraid of them," she said of the raccoons. "I carry an iron pipe with me" when I go out at night, she added.
'They were so cute'
Kim and Tony Benjamins are still mourning the killing of their favorite cat, Novalee. She was ripped to pieces, and it was hard to identify her.
"I see Kim sit by Novalee's grave in their front yard every day ... talking or just being with her kitty," Keeton said.
Tony Benjamins said that in previous years, raccoons would come within 5 feet of cats with no problems.
"We used to love the raccoons. They'd have their babies this time of year, and they were so cute. Even though we lived in the city, it was neat to have wildlife around."
But this year, things changed.
"They went nuts," he said of raccoons. "We got a dog" - a German shepherd-Rottweiler mix - to scare them away.
Hall, her husband and a neighbor actually helped save one cat's life.
"We were right there trying to get him off the cat," she said. "The cat was screaming, and the raccoon was ferocious. My husband and a neighbor grabbed a shovel and a bat, and they were waving them until it took off. It was scary."
She said she doesn't know whether neighbor Kathy Wood's cat, Sweetie, will recover.
One thing that also saved Sweetie's life is she's overweight.
"It couldn't pull Sweetie under the deck. But it pulled so hard it hurt her internal organs," Hall said.
The neighbors hired trapper Tom Brown, a nuisance wildlife control operator from Rochester.
Brown said of the raccoons, "They are in command up there."
He said he's seen packs this big, but none so into killing. There was one in Rochester that killed a peacock last winter and another in Grand Mound that killed three chickens. But nothing like this.
Brown said there is an overabundance of food in the area with many fruit trees.
"And the good folks feed them. They're cute as a bug's ear," he said, adding, "I wouldn't mind being a raccoon up there."
Normally, Brown said, he can fix a problem in a few weeks, but he has set traps there for six weeks and caught only one.
"It was with sardines and cat food," he said. "For bait, I use what they've been feeding them."
Brown said he hasn't trapped more because raccoons are intelligent. They teach their young, the same as beavers do. He said one big male boar is the main killer, and he's tasted blood, and he wants more. He's usually helped by one or two others.
"The boar's likely been in a live trap before," Brown said.
Carrell added: "It's highly unlikely you will ever trap him again, and he'll teach the others to stay away."
Brown said he's going to back off for a while until the food supply dries up.
"Then they'll be a little less persnickity," Brown said.
He said his goal is to make them feel uncomfortable. Until that happens, they aren't likely to leave.
"We have our favorite restaurants; they have their favorite routes," he said.
'It's like a freeway'
Keeton said the raccoons travel their route so often they've worn a path.
"It's like a freeway in the back yard," she said. "It's like clockwork. They come between 9 and 9:30 every night."
Corwin said the raccoons are brave.
"They come on my deck and beg for food at my window," Corwin said.
Keeton said she's lived in the area for six years and never seen anything like this. She said Fish and Wildlife, the city of Olympia and animal control - nobody has any answers on why this is happening.
But Carrell said: "I talk to people until I'm blue in the face - do not feed cats and dogs outside."
Donny Martorello, also of Fish and Wildlife, said if people don't feed raccoons, or any wildlife, there won't be a problem.
"Raccoons adapt really well living in suburban environments," Martorello said.
Keeton said she knows people have invaded the raccoons' territory, but Hall added they have coexisted peacefully for a long time.
"You've got to watch which ones are bad," Hall said. "It's not all of them. We just have to arm ourselves with pepper spray."
Keeton added: "It may sound silly, but a lot of the people here truly feel scared and terrorized."
Tips on keeping raccoons away
Don't feed them.
Don't leave any food out that they can get to.
Clean your grill. The odor can attract them.
Don't put your trash can out where they can get to it.
Keep your lights on. Raccoons like to avoid being
Return to Current Events Category Menu
I want one although the only cat left in my neighborhood is the one I haven't trapped and blow the brains out of. That's my good neighbor so I'll leave it alone. LOL
I'd like a couple hundred of them around here myself. Anything that kills cats can't be bad.
DON'T take this the wrong way because I don't think this of either of you. Your comments just made me think about a handmade sign I saw the other day in a craft shop. It said something likle "anyone who doesn't like cats must have been in a past life a rat". That booth ONLY had cat related stuff. I like cats (I have three, two of them are 14 yrs. old) but that was a bit too much for me. BP
But do you realize that cats are as polarizing to many people as religion is? I can't tell you how I hate a cat (more than you could ever love yours) and I wonder how people live with them IN THEIR HOMES. It's like someone who smokes I guess. You probably don't smell it and you swear they are "clean", but if I walk through your door, I KNOW. Anything that craps in my house had better have a john under its ass. I don't have sand boxes and I don't scoop cat crap out of it. I've never seen a cat that is obedient. And please don't tell me, "That's their independence." Mine "independence" starts with my foot and ends with my shotgun. Did I mention how much I hate cats?
Isnt in amazing that people feed the wildlife THEN complain when it over populates and/or becomes a problem.. Coons will eat cats, small dogs, chickens etc. Nothing new about that...
Had a mountain lion here had to be shot because this idiot was feeding it. Leaving fresh chicken out for it, taking pictures etc. UNtil the day the cat was sitting in the tree above the bus stop.. then it had to be shot.. A parent saw the cat and called in Animal Control because it wasnt a happy camper and the kids were in danger...
City people move in to an area, and think OHHH How cute and feel the need to feed it.. Soon they are having a ton of problems and its the animals that loose out.
I actually don't mind domestic cats and like them almost as much as dogs. But keep them in your houses where they don't compete with and destroy the native wildlife!
When they run the neighborhood (the cats I killed were wild and did not belong to anyone), and cause my dog to run after them when my back is turned I go postal. I've had my dog bound across the busy highway after a cat and I'm not going to tolerate that.
I do feel sorry for the cats I trap and kill because it's not their fault some irresponsible person either took in a pet they couldn't take care of, or were too lazy, cheap, or too stupid to have the pet spayed or neutered. However a shot to the head is quick and clean and I seriously doubt they know what was coming.
Now that I've removed three cats from the neighborhood I've never see so much bird activity and even the Bob Whites are coming back! I did have a flurry of chipmunks in the garden, but I seriously doubt the cats hung close enough to the house for that to be a cause and effect of killing the cats.
When the dogooders don't allow trapping or any other form of control because of spawling urban development they end up with problems like these. I remember an article not long ago that was written because of the overpopulation of coyotes in Hollywood, CA that were killing peoples cats and small dogs.
Time for the animal people to let nature take its course. If it means sacrificing some of their beloved pets then so be it. They made the mess, they should be able to live with it.
The lake people here complain about the geese crapping everywhere. Well Duh who started feeding them so they stay around? And who was there first anyway?
I believe the intelligence of the human race is far over rated. In fact I think we as a species in general are far over rated.
...I DO hate the inconsiderate cat owners in urban areas that allow them to roam. I too would like to know where I can get some of these raccoons! I'm somewhere between George and Cecil. Personally, I don't see much of a purpose of owning them other than if you're an apartment dweller or want to control mice in a contained area (Yes, they will wander those farms and kill pheasants too!). Most are not "cuddly" like a lap dog. So again, I'm not sure of their purpose. But maybe that's just ME. I believe the nicest thing about cats is that they fit in a SKEET LAUNCHER perfectly - lol! (Just joking cat owners!)
you've just never met the "right" cat (I won't hold that against you). LOL My cats, well the 2 older ones anyway, actually obey better than our dog, at least they will come back when you call them, the dog just looks at you and runs the other way. LOL
And I did have a cat (lost him this spring, he was 15) that was well on his way to being potty trained to use the toliet. He was also my best mouser, but he would get a bird sometimes.
The 2 house cats prefer to go outside to take care of their business. They are not very interested in birds but I still will NOT ever trust them with my parrot even though they have never shown any interst in him. I won't take that chance. The dog and the outside cat would eat my parrot if they ever got the chance. And the outside cat does get a bird now and then, but I still have plenty that come to my feeders (that are set extra high) and my pond. I think it's fairly well balanced here, there is no lnack of birds.
Cecil, I fully understand what you are talking about. I had a dog when I was a kid get hit by a car because of chasing a cat.
Now about the 3 stray half grown pups that showed up. They will have to go. They will be trying to get my guineas and we can't have that. And that is because of scrum like the ones you referred to. I feel like Bob Barker now, "have your pet spayed or nuetered". If people would only be responsible, but how can we except them to be responsible with animals when half of them can't even take responsiblity for their own kids. Yep, it's amazing how the human race has survived this long. BP
correct me if I am wrong Cecil but wasn't it you that said 20 geese could out crap a Simmental standing in knee deep Trifolium pratense...the reason the geese don't migrate is that they are Bc maxima. There is enough caloric intake from the local golf course to substain their needs, the "lake people just provide the dessert.
I have provided a video of a humane cat trap that was invented so that there is no more need for a 12 ga...THUMP.
although I do have a friend that refers to them as flying toilets.
They don't stick around my ponds and I don't feed them.
I could be wrong but it seems they used to migrate out of the area in the winter here before the lake people started feeding them. They seem to be here all the time now. Maybe global warming? Oh forgive me those are fighting words on this site! LOL