Letters to the Editor

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RACCOONS: Be aware when on wildlife’s turf

Letter by Michael Parks, Lakewood on July 11, 2012 at 11:22 am with 37 Comments »
July 11, 2012 12:19 pm

The attack on my neighbor by raccoons was horrendous (TNT, 7-11), and my heart goes out to her. But we need to understand our responsibility to residential wildlife.

First, we are the encroachers. We have developed this area until there is little refuge left; the remaining wildlife survive by living near us, not by choice but by necessity.

There once were two dozen raccoons that roamed my area. Now there are five, with only two or three kits among them. Coyotes, dogs, starvation and cars have seen to that.

We have to be aware when we step into their turf. The path that Michaela Lee was attacked on cuts right through a part of the park where the raccoons have lived for generations. Deer, coyotes, and feral dogs and cats roam the area where many people walk their dogs. It’s a good idea to carry a walking stick to ward off unwanted advances by both wild and domesticated critters.

Walkers also must maintain control of their dogs. The raccoons, which normally run away from dogs and humans, did not attack until the kits were threatened by a charging dog that got away from its handler.

If that does happen, let nature take its course. I know the instinct is to extricate your pet, but that puts you in danger, too.

If we are to enjoy what little wildlife there is left in this area, we must understand and adapt to it as it struggles to adapt to us.

Leave a comment Comments → 37
  1. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Wow. Glad Mr.Parks doesn’t live by me. He admitted to feeding these raccoons, and now wants to blame humans because we’re on their “turf”. Say that again?….we all live on this planet, do we not? How long has that development been there, and why oh why haven’t the coons moved along. You know…because those humans have sullied their “turf”.

    The fact is, raccoons live around us because that’s where the food is. They are scavengers. They are large rats, and just like rats, prefer to live close to their food supply. We could evacuate Mr. Park’s entire neighborhood of humans and let it go wild….the coons would move closer to the next neighborhood.

    Regardless of how these critters are portrayed in Disney cartoons, they are vermin and very destructive.

    Warning: Foul language. Totally understandable foul language…

  2. surething says:

    We have raccoons everywhere here, we don’t bother them,
    they don’t bother us. we don’t let our animals loose and we secure our garbage and do not leave treats out.

    It’s the possums I hate, they make me gag. lol

  3. MililaniJag says:

    Anyone that feeds raccoons,coyotes etc are harming the wildlife and should fined. Don’t feed the wild animals. You’re disrupting their natural life cycle.

  4. MoD – where did he admit to feeding the animals?

    I blame the dog walker who let her animal run off the leash. The raccoons were protecting their young and, when the woman went in to pull the dog away, she was attacked as being a threat.

  5. charliebucket says:

    the TV news report I saw left off the part where she let the dog off the leash (if that is indeed true). The news clip showed the leash in her hand and, taken with her (edited) words and the (edited) footage, made it sound like she was walking her dog on a leash and the raccoons came running at her for no reason.

    I just find that very interesting.

    Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear.

  6. alindasue says:

    All the news reports I read said that she was walking the dog on a leash but the dog got away from her and went after a couple racoons.

    So… technically, the dog was on the leash, but she wasn’t.

  7. Cheryl Tucker says:

    beerBoy: Click the link on the letter to get to the TNT’s original article about the incident. Parks is quoted as saying: “They just hang around here. They come around and a couple of us in the neighborhood feed them.”

    Cheryl Tucker
    editorial writer

  8. Theefrinker says:

    alindasue: I like the way you worded that last part; made me chuckle a bit… probably due to the visual that entered my head.

  9. Feeding wild animals is really stupid. I guess I’m OK with bird feeders but, other than that, don’t do it.

  10. “The fact is, raccoons live around us because that’s where the food is. They are scavengers. They are large rats, and just like rats, prefer to live close to their food supply.” M.Darwin- This is SO true. The letter writer cannot have it both ways. He touts being all nature guy and wanting to preserve the wildlife yet HE is part of what created the problem. Its not a nature preserve, its a large park where kids play and people go on walks. Quit feeding the animals Mr. Parks. That is WHY the raccoons have lived there for generations.

  11. autieboy says:

    How kind of MarksonofDarwin to suggest I (the infamous coon feeder Parks) am responsible for my neighbor’s pain and suffering because I occasionally throw a handful of dog food to the raccoons when they are in my backyard hunting worms and insects or lapping up water from the sprinkler because we’ve left them no other option. The attack didn’t occur in my backyard; it occurred IN THE PARK (where it IS illegal to feed wildlife), in an area where the kits are raised, and only after the dog charged the coons. Also, “This is WHY the raccoons have lived there for generations.” So, Mr. Darwin Jr., I’ve been feeding coons for generations, and they stay in Steilacoom Park because of me? (HINT: I haven’t been in Lakewood for generations; not even one.) We have boxed in the remaining wildlife into a small area, surrounded by housing, roads and speeding cars and populated by coyotes and domesticated and abandoned dogs. Those predators are one reason why the coons nest closer to humans than they want to be. It’s safer. We chose to put a path through the park to hook up 98th Street with the service road to the lake because it’s convenient. And then we walk our dogs who instinctively charge after the coons. And somehow the coons are nasty little vermin that need to be exterminated. This has never happened before in this area, but how many stories have you read about dogs attacking people? Why aren’t dogs vermin? Why do we keep them as pets and feed them (for generations)? OK haters; I’m done; carry on.

  12. aislander says:

    My forebears (not endangered–just dead) lived in a rural area and had a much less sentimental attitude toward animals than we moderns. When their dogs treed a raccoon, the varmint would be “rescued” with a rifle.

    There was plenty of food around that raccoons probably found attractive, but the creatures never took any liberties, and mostly stayed where they belonged.

  13. alindasue says:


    The difference is that your forbears lived in a rural area. It’s easier for racoons to stay away from people there because there just aren’t as many people to be around. That would be the case even if they didn’t “rescue” the animals with a rifle.

    You’d have to travel by car for at least an hour in any direction before you’d find any rural land around here though…

  14. MarksonofDarwin says:

    Geez. Get over yerself Mr. Parks. Seriously.
    I didn’t say you did half of what you read into my comment.
    You want to feed the wild scavengers in your yard?…have at it. You’re welcome to the round worms they carry as well. Like I said…I’m glad I don’t live next to you.

    I agree that the loose dog caused the problem. I know it’s perfectly possible that the dog yanked the leash from her hand and it got away, but dog owners should always be in control of their animals. If this dog is too large or aggressive for her, maybe she should leave it home for her runs. I feel horrible for her injuries & I’m happy that she will recover.

    My main rant was about the “stoned-way-too-much” attitude that many take regarding wild creatures. I could have gone on to spit venom about those who believe coyotes are mystical apparitions and wolves are gods, but I thought maybe I might hurt the letter writer’s feelings….at this point I’m afraid it’s too late, so what the hell!

  15. MarksonofDarwin says:


    You don’t have to drive miles to find a raccoon anywhere.
    Just walk out your door…they’re there. Trust me.
    Just like all the rats that infest all cities and suburbs.

  16. Raccoons live near people because there is food – not because they want us to protect them.

    Raccoons are not anywhere close to be endangered – they don’t need our help.

    Feeding Raccoons because you feel sorry for them because they are eating food that is natural for them to eat is really bizarre.

    Raccoons drinking water from any available source is…..what animals do. Your dog drinks from the toilet. Your cats will drink water from your potted plants. Sheesh. Mr Parks pretends to be knowledgeable about coons when he is just demonstrating his ignorance.

  17. tree_guy says:

    With all the talk about the raccoons I thought folks might have an interest in a tasty raccoon recipe. Here is one you make in crock pot. Serves 4-6:


    1 Large Raccoon
    1 Large Vidalia Onion
    2 Stalks of Celery
    1 Large Green Bell Pepper
    4 Bay Leaves
    1 Can Low Fat/Low Sodium French Onion Soup
    1 Can Low Fat/ Low Sodium Cream of Mushroom Soup
    Salt and Pepper to taste

  18. alindasue says:


    My point (in response to aislander) was that in rural areas, racoons have plenty of space to avoid living too close to humans. Here in the city, the raccoons are closer to people, just as people are also closer to other people. A raccoon would have to travel a mighty far distance to find a rural area away from people around here.

    I see both raccoons and opossums in and around my yard on a fairly regular basis. (We have lots of trees.) I leave them alone and they leave me alone. As long as they stay out of our house and we respect them as the wild animals that they are, we all get along fine.

  19. alindasue says:


    Good luck finding a crock pot big enough for any raccoon bigger than a newborn kit. That recipe would serve a lot more than 4-6 people. Have you ever actually SEEN a raccoon?

  20. tree_guy says:

    alindasue, if the raccoon is really big then cut it in half and make two recipes. I hope that solves your problem.

  21. tree-guy, you crack me up!

  22. whitecap says:

    Mr. Parks…stop feeding raccoons in your yard or anywhere else. And, would you please refrain from calling people who disagree with you “haters”. It’s just a cheap way of dismissing their point of view.

  23. aislander says:

    It’s been years since I read The Yearling by Rawlings, but I’m pretty sure raccoon was described as being on the menu–as well as bear–and they were both made to sound delicious.

    To this day, I’d like to try bear “cracklings,” which I imagine to be like pork rinds…

  24. alindasue says:


    Raccoons, opossums, bear, monkey, rabbit, dog, and cat are all among the foods eaten by people in various parts of the world. That doesn’t mean I’ll eat them – although I do accept that others do.

    I think that if I had to raise and/or kill my own food, I probably wouldn’t eat cow, pig, or poultry either…

    Back to the original topic, I don’t think it’s legal to kill wildlife here in the city, so that’s not really a viable solution.

  25. mcgintey says:

    Markson…they aren’t rats, and yes we are on their turf. They had generations of living in wild spaces that development sprawled into and cleared, giving them little space for cover and safety. I suppose you thought the buffalo we killed off were vermin too.

  26. aislander says:

    Hey, if we adjust our sensibilities a little, alindasue, it would certainly help to keep down the raccoon population.

    Traps in lieu of rifles?

  27. whitecap says:

    mcgintey says, “They (raccoons) had generations of living in wild spaces that development sprawled into…” etc. etc. That applies to bears and cougars too. I wonder if Mr. Parks feeds them in his backyard? I wonder what the response would be if one of those attacked someone in a park. Before they attack anyone else, trap the raccoons, take them far out in the sticks and release them to a happy natural life in the woods. Then come back and kick Mr. Parks in the arze. His feeding of these “wild animals” only encourages their over-population in an area where it can’t be tolerated.

  28. I have to agree with Markson, Racoons are vermin and viscious killers. We live on acrage in a very rural area. Racoons have killed so many of our chickens, I’ve lost count. And to those who say “poor babie’s are hungry”, boloney. There are also hundreds of wild rabbits they could easily catch and feed on. Raccoons will kill your small dogs and cats also so be careful if you have small pets. I have shot dead lots of those #%@*& troublemakers and next time will have to try treeguys crock pot recipe:)

  29. Frankenchrist says:

    I guess I better stop feeding the cougars.

    …sorry, Miss Enerson.

  30. slugoxyz says:

    Oh brother. It’s a raccoon. You folk are worried and arguing about some raccoons. Raccoons eat some cats. Yawn… Eat an occasional small dog or some chickens… Yawn. Tried to eat a lady for some reason? Now you’re talking! That sounds like a good fight. She’ll live and now she knows. I’ve run into some raccoons. If they’re around their kits, those hummers are mean. I didn’t sweat them that much. But I had my angry raccoon eradicator (it eradicates almost any angry critter) with me. I didn’t use it and Mama went on her angry way once she made it perfectly clear she was…well…angry. I’m all right with sharing. I don’t hate raccoons but if they mess with me, I’ll mess back. Seems fair. I think I kind of like those weird little guys. But I’m originally an East Coast city guy. So, if it isn’t a rat, I will leave them alone as long as they leave me alone. Besides, I don’t care how you cook them up, I doubt they’ll taste very good.

  31. Frankenchrist says:

    Remember, you don’t have to run faster than the raccoon, just faster than your buddy.

    Didn’t Hemingway write stories about raccoon hunting?

    A guy brings a raccoon home.
    She asks, “Where are you going to keep it?”
    He repies, “In the bedroom.”
    “But what about that horrible nasty smell?”
    “I got used to you; I’m sure he will too!”

    What did the raccoon say in his will?
    “Leave it to Beaver.”

  32. Slugo, you sound like a typically ignorant city dude. Yawn?? You don’t seem to “get it” that most of us that have domestic animals are in our mind part of our family’s. My dogs are just as important to me as were the kids and a lot less trouble by the way. I will shoot to kill any racoon that messes with my family, and that includes human racoons if you get my drift, city slicker!

  33. BlaineCGarver says:

    This racoon, beaver, and an elk walk into the bar, and the bartender sez: What’s this? A joke?

    LOL: everyone wants to keep the wilderness perfect (except for the part they ruined for their OWN house)

  34. alindasue says:

    As I’ve said before, aislander, I don’t consider the raccoon population to be a problem. The raccoons and opossums come and go in my yard as they have been for the 20+ years that we’ve lived in this house. We don’t feed the wild critters, but we do have trees in our yard that they like.

    We have three cats that go in and out of the house, even at night. Two of them have survived into their teens and the third no doubt will also. Even the stray cats that hang around our yard (I do feed them – inside our laundry room) seem to fare well in the raccoons’ presence. The youngest of the strays (the females were spayed a while back) is a good five years old.

    In the years that we’ve lived in this house, my three young children have become six teens and young adults. They know first-hand what a hissing opossum looks like and have survived unscathed to tell about it.

    It is possible for wild animals, like racoons, to coexist in an urban setting. All it takes is making sure that garbage can lids and doors are closed and secured and respecting the animals as the wild creatures that they are.

  35. aislander – since it is illegal in most urban settings to fire rifles, traps would be the way to go.

  36. only after looking up the state regs on traping.

  37. Mr Parks is very correct that the attack did not occur on his property….it ended about 5 feet short of his property line.

    Feeding the wildlife does make wild animals more domesticated and more comfortable around humans. This is dangerous for them and the humans. Mr Parks insistence on feeding the raccoons has made it very easy for others in the neighborhood to also feed the raccoons.

    Numerous people in the neighborhood and surrounding area are doing the best they can do to make sure Mr Parks has less mouths to feed in the near future. At some point in the future more mouths will show up to be fed and hopefully Mr Parks and others can restrain themselves from feeding them. We sincerely hope they do this so the wild animals and man can maintain their distance and healthy respect for one another.

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