Mama raccoon sets up house in Ottawa construction site
Whoever said you can't stand in the way of progress - clearly hasn't met a mama raccoon.
Smack dab in the middle of an Ottawa construction site, the wild animal has set up house, taming the hearts of even the most hardened "hard hat" who even named her.
"Jackie" as she's known to the guys, gave birth about a week ago to a litter of kits. It is that time of year when these urban animals are giving birth and looking to do it somewhere nice and warm like inside your attic.
Amid the buzz saws and the hammers, there's another sound, one that doesn't quite fit. A raccoon moved into the work site on Mann Avenue a few months ago. One of the workers even named her and started feeding her.
“Every day I’d walk around the site and there she was,” says construction worker Robin Morin, “and I'd share my snack with her, like hot dogs, shawarmas, all the good stuff.”
So good, in fact, that she stuck around and gave birth right in the middle of the construction zone.
Wildlife Specialist Marc Chubb with Orkin Canada has been hired to help relocate the family.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” he says, “and I've never seen anything like this.”
But even he admits this is a tough one.
“With so many entry areas still open because the building is under construction,” says Chubb, “if I pull the babies out and put them just outside the building on the roof, as soon as everyone goes home tonight, she'll put the babies right back in here.”
So, the hope is she'll move along once her kits are bigger, which, oddly enough, seems to work for these tough construction workers.
"You wouldn't believe how many softies there are,” says Rob Agnew, with Takyan Consulting, “They seem rough on the outside but you throw a mommy animal there and they turn into babies.”
Raccoons are wild animals of course, but they're becoming far more prevalent in urban areas. Chubb says Algonquin Park has 6 to 8 raccoons per square kilometer; the city of Ottawa has 30 to 40 per square kilometer, living in construction sites, trees and attics.
In a house in Little Italy, Chubb has been called to deal with a lot of noise and mewling coming from the homeowners’ attic. A quick inspection shows a mama raccoon that has birthed 5 babies. They are cute but smelly and destructive.
“Raccoons will destroy your attic,” says Chubb, “They will defecate, urinate all over.”
The trick is shooing the mom back out the hole she made, then gently moving the babies out of the house and into a heated box. The hole in the roof will be patched and the box is placed on the roof to await the mother’s return.
With her hovering nearby, it will be just a matter of hours before she grabs her litter, can't get back inside the house and moves on to another den in the area.
"We come back, pick up the empty box, problem solved," says Chubb.
Problem solved for that homeowner but Marc Chubb has about 5 or 6 new appointments a day at this time of year for raccoons and squirrels. By the way, the raccoon capital of the world is Toronto with 150 raccoon per square kilometer.