After a long car ride Peter’s ‘seven’ await release at their new home – a conservation area with a lake.
The best possible outcome for our orphans is placement back where they came from. That is the only legal choice. My aunt and sister chuckled at the thought when I told them, the people in Richmond Hill thought the raccoons were gone – but they’re back! Seven little babies no less, just barely old enough to be on their own – it has to be now, otherwise it will be a long winter in the shelter waiting for a spring release.
We have two releases today. Angela, Amica, Pamela, and one of the numbers (most raccoons have a number, not a name) are to be freed in Weston. The Weston babies are from different litters – different rescues, they were put together based on their original sites. A forested park off Weston Road with walking paths and a river will be their new home. I can hear the roar of the 401 and wish the raccoons could stay out of the city – away from the busyness, away from the roads.
The original rescuers look for a safe forested site ahead of time, we meet them, assess the situation and prepare the site. This entails hammering two 2x4s in a rough triangular shape between 3 trees and installing a platform. The nesting box the raccoons have slept in since living in outdoor cages is mounted on top of this. The raccoons are lifted to the platform where they devour corn and kibble, and some of them scamper up trees. This set up is Cynthia’s special treatment – instead of just giving them the boot into the forest. The original rescuers, who brought the raccoons to Procyon, will bring food a few times to help the babies transition to the wild.
We meet Peter in a parking lot near the release area for his 7 raccoons. He has suggested a forested area between a busy road and some houses on a lake. This looks like a sad and dangerous spot to me, between the people and their property and the people in their cars. Cynthia also feels the forested area is not big enough. Nearby we discover a perfect little paradise, a conservation area with a lake. What we are doing is conservation, Cynthia says, and even though the area is locked we can see it doesn’t get any more ideal than this. I wait at the truck while the others hike in, in search of an ideal release point. It has been raining or drizzling all day. I stand by the cages and touch the little paws and fingers reaching out to me. I wonder why I never noticed how velvety and slightly sticky the underside of their paws are, and realize it is because I am touching them with bare hands for the first time. When the official site has been identified we load up the ladder and 2x4s with cages of raccoons and supplies and hike into the woods. We stay for awhile in the wet glowing greenery after the construction of the transition home has been put together, and the raccoons have been let go. Within a few weeks the raccoons will wander away completely and not come back. It feels strange to leave them – they don’t notice us go. How will they fare without us, fat little friendly boys and girls? They would have been with their mom at least a year and are now only five months old.
Raccoons have a 25 km range. They must be released within 15 km of where they are found to meet government regulations.