Friday, October 25, 2013

Death of a Raccoon at 5th & E (221)

I was going by the northeast corner of 5th and E streets about 4pm yesterday and noticed the body of an apparently dead fair-sized mammal with its head in the street drain and body in the gutter.

I stopped, took a picture  (image 1), called the Davis Police and Yolo Animal Control, and went about other matters.

At dusk that same day, I took the photos from my camera and noticed two things.

One, the animal seems to have been struck at the back of the neck with a stick, the broken part of which is seen in image 1.

Two, the entrance to the street drain is almost entirely blocked with two lumber planks put there by the contractors doing work on 5th Street.

These features prompted me to find out exactly what kind of an animal it was. I went back to scene at about 6pm, pulled the animal’s body out of the drain opening slot, moved the planks, and took the further pictures shown here.

I infer from these photos that this was a raccoon that lives mostly hidden and underground in Old North, but was above ground yesterday because of the disturbance caused by the 5th street road diet. It was trying to get below ground at this location, but could not because of the planks.

I speculate that someone disturbed by the sight of a small wild mammal came along at the moment of this raccoon’s distress, picked up a stick, and pounded it to death at the back of its neck.

This the second time I have seen a raccoon in ON. About a year ago, during a torrential rain that flooded the storm drains, I observed a drenching wet one sitting on the curb at 6th and C streets. I infer from the flooded gutters that the rains had forced it out of the underground drain system. (Raccoons live an average of some 8 years. The dead raccoon may or may not have been this wet raccoon.)

A few minutes on Wikipedia brings to light reports that “urban raccoons” are rather common--as are human-raccoon conflicts in urban areas. (Extracted passages on this are reproduced  below.)