Mystery critter packs a punch in yard


A Scotsburn man has been on the receiving end of a two-week rash of furry-fisted vandalism. The culprit – or indeed, culprits – remain somewhat at large.

The man, who asked to go unnamed citing privacy reasons, has never seen anything quite like it. “I thought some of your readers might like to know this can happen to them,” the man said.

His troubles began two weeks ago when he discovered patches of his lawn gouged out and, in places, rolled back like a carpet.

The patches now make up the most of his backyard, a size comparable to a good sized backyard swimming pool. Some of the patches are 45 to 60 centimetres (18 to 24 inches) long.

With his home surrounded by woods, he immediately suspected the work was done by a woodland creature and contacted the Department of Natural Resources.

“He was a nice fella, came out here, took one look and said, ‘This is not raccoons. This is caused by the skunks.’ He measured it up and showed me how it was taking place.”

The man said he had doubts that skunks carried out his unwanted landscaping.

“I haven’t seen a skunk here for three years. It’s got to be a big animal that’s doing this, not skunks. I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

He instead remains adamant that the damage was carried out by raccoons. Following that suspicion – against the assurances of DNR – he followed his hunch and set up four traps and  a camera on his property.
Friday night his traps caught three “gigantic” raccoons, while the raccoons tipped the scale slightly to their favour by making off with one of the traps.

“We figure he just walked off with it,” the man said.

One of the pits shows what he said looks to be a bear print.
As for what the raccoons are after, his theory is grub worms, although the raccoons seem to be hit and miss when it comes to collecting their bounty.

“I found some places were the grub worms weren’t touched and other places that’s what they were digging for.”

The man baited the traps with peanut butter sandwiches and a side of marshmallows, which proved to be an effective combo.

One of the traps showed signs of a struggle, with swishy mud prints painting a nearby storage hutch.

“What in the hell would they do with that?” the man asked while looking at one of the rolled back patches of grass. “Just take a look, you’ll never see this again.”

The man said he’s been the only person in his neighbourhood to have this kind of activity. It has him as well as his neighbours baffled.

“The people here in the neighbourhood, we’re all in the same boat. Never have any of us seen this kind of devastation.”

He is hopeful the digging will come to an end soon, not only for the annoyance but for the costs associated with the pest control service he’s hired. He said he also recently bought a new lawnmower, although, thanks to the raccoons, he hasn’t much cause to use it.

“I used to mow it every fourth day,” the man said. “Can’t do nothing with it today.”

While the original patch in his front yard is slowly coming back, the majority of his backyard remains torn up.

“It’s good for the public to know this type of thing can happen in your backyard,” he said. “It’s happening in mine.”

A Scotsburn man’s backyard has been overtaken with torn up patches of sod, some of which are more than 60cm long.  (Cameron photo)

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