If you’re reading Mary Oliver’s Twelve Moons as a lunar calendar with me this year, today is the day to read one of the extra poems, that’s not matched to a particular moon phase. The poem is Raccoons. I have to say, this is one of the few pieces on the subject of raccoons I’ve ever read that didn’t talk about what a pain they can be.
Luckily, raccoons do not occur naturally in Alaska. This seems to shock people—I think their surprise at learning this is only slightly less than the disbelief many express when they learn we don’t have penguins, either.
I thought about this recently, after Stephanie Come’-Ryker commented on one of our posts. She’s doing something similar to us in Indiana, and blogs about it. Her description of an encounter with a raccoon (Paws of Fury!) is not to be missed. What fills the raccoon niche in this ecosystem? My guess is several creatures, starting with the river otter, the marten, and perhaps the weasel. Wolverines would also serve, although they are, if you’ll pardon my flippancy, an entirely different animal.
From everything I’ve heard, we’re better off without raccoons. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game apparently agrees. As an invasive species, any raccoons discovered within our boundaries should be shot on sight. As we man the barricades against a looming porcupine onslaught, I can’t imagine what we could do to keep raccoons out of the garden.