Three young raccoons and their mother were the picks of the litter, so to speak, on Oct. 31 when Saanich Animal Control was dispatched to rescue the masked critters from a townhouse dumpster.
Saanich police received a call about four raccoons trapped in a compost bin around 3 p.m. on Saturday and Mike Gibson, a long-time animal control officer with the department, was dispatched to save the day.
The caller originally reported four baby raccoons in the large, metal dumpster but when Gibson, who’s worked in law enforcement for more than 40 years, took a peek inside, he found a mother and her three nearly full-grown young.
|Mike Gibson, a Saanich animal control officer, rescued four raccoons from a dumpster on Oct. 31 using a neighbour's trellis as a ramp for the critters. (Photo by Mike Gibson)
“A number of residents were gathered around, expressing concern for the raccoons,” he said, adding that the sides of the bin were slick and the bin was empty save for a thin layer of food and wrappers so “it was impossible for the raccoons to climb up and out.”
The young raccoons were curious about their rescuer but their mother was on edge – ready to defend her babies – and growled as soon as Gibson got close.
“Entering the bin was obviously too dangerous and would have seriously stressed the [raccoons],” he said.
None of the animal control equipment he had on hand was useful in the situation so Gibson had to get creative and asked the concerned residents to help problem-solve. He requested anything ladder-like “to offer the raccoons a means of escape” and the woman who’d reported the trapped critters suggested a small trellis she had in her yard.
Gibson placed the trellis in the compost bin at an angle to create a ramp for the raccoons and then backed off to give them space.
“Within seconds, the mother raccoon availed herself of the easy egress, climbed the ramp to the top of the dumpster, followed closely by all three of her young,” he said. “The whole troop then walked off the top of the dumpster and climbed high up into an adjacent birch tree, presumably to rest and recuperate from their ordeal.”
Gibson then brought the trellis back to the caller and closed the bin lid so the raccoons couldn’t get back in if they went searching for a snack later on.
“All parties involved were very happy with the outcome,” he said.