The time has come -- unfortunately -- to stop feeding the raccoons. I hasten to add I continue to feed during the day, for that is when the fox family and two mama coons and their six babies come to the terrace. But after three years, I realize I am doing more harm than good for the night feedings.
I have researched the pros and cons before 'cutting them off,' to be sure I am doing it correctly.
My decision is based on the following factors:
* Suddenly, we had forty coons on the terrace. FORTY. Fights were frequent. Forty is just -- too many.When I was growing up, for years we fed a family of coons who kept returning for generations, but their population never increased over eight to twelve. The sudden influx of so many, so soon, has become slightly scary.
* I am contributing to an over-population of coons for the area. The over-saturation is a result of too-easy food and over-breeding; stopping the easy source of food supply will eventually reduce them to their manageable numbers and healthier population.
* They are getting lazy and not doing their natural wild-thing.
* They don't need to rely on humans, and other humans may not be as welcoming and kind as we have been.
* If they get trapped and relocated somewhere else, they don't respond well to a new environment. And god forbid people start shooting them.
* The buying for their dog food -- even the cheapest bags -- was beginning to be a drain, and we need to concentrate on the other wild ones in the sanctuary -- the mustangs.
* We are tiring of the destruction. Despite keeping them well fed, they insist on tearing up our patio, terrace, garden bench, screens, plants, decorative elements in the yard...I kept warning them the gravy train would end if they couldn't behave, but gee, they act just like wild animals...
* They've never offered to harm the other animals, but we haven't had any feral or stray cats and kittens this summer so I do wonder...
* And finally, we are eventually putting the house on the market, and I rather doubt new owners would welcome these many nightly muraders.
I've been tapering off the past week, and the numbers are going down. They'll come in waves, check it out, either drink from the koi pond or lounge on the lawn furniture, and amble off. The babies still play on the skylight. Occasionally they find a treat of old fruit or bread (old habits die hard), but they're perfectly fine. I needed to stop while the summer offered plentiful eating, unlike the fall or winter. If I see them looking awful in the winter you can be sure I won't let them starve...