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Sunday, June 22, 2008


Ah, the trials and tribulations of living in the hills on the west side of Portland. A reader sends along an e-mail thread that shows they've got some problems in the Willamette Heights neighborhood. Roving bands of brazen thugs! But don't worry -- not the human type:

As we returned from a walk this afternoon, one of the exterior restorers of the pink house on the corner of Thurman and 31st stopped us. He had just heard what he thought to be a dog fight, but it turned out to be an attack on a dog and a woman by a raccoon at the north upper end of the Thurman St. Bridge. The raccoon had emerged from the laurels at the edge of the canyon and bit both of them.

Last night at 10:30 T***** spotted a coyote coming up 32nd to Thurman.

We inhabit the edge of the Forest. Beware!


A week ago Saturday at 4 pm I had the french doors open between the kitchen and the patio. Less than five minutes later, I turned around and there was a large raccoon sitting *in our kitchen*. I did the movie version of a good loud scream and he did not budge. I jumped up and down and pretended to run toward him. He just looked at me. I grabbed two metal lids and banged them together (I was running out of options) and he finally fled down the back stairs. Five minutes later he was back on the patio staring at our twelve year old cat. I did the lid act again. It worked.

This is not normal behavior for a raccoon.


Well, it may be normal for the raccoons in our neighborhood. We have had raccoon families living under our deck in the past,and it seems one of the young males does not adhere to the "raccoons are noctural" norm. He is out just about any time of day hanging around looking for food etc. And while he (or she) is very bold I can usually just clap my hands loudly and he runs away -- although it takes 3-4 time before he moves on.

I have called animal control in the past -- they no longer trap raccoons and release them as the people in the release areas started complaining. So if you want to be rid of them you need to call an exterminator, meaning they will be killed -- and while they are a nuisance I am not willing to have them killed as they really do no harm. We have two cats and they come face to face but the raccoons never go after them -- it seems they just want to eat.

Over all they are bold but relatively harmless from my perspective -- but if anyone has a bigger issue I would be happy to discuss trapping alternatives.


I'm not sure raccoons around here are so harmless. I took a baby raccoon who had been abandoned by its mom over to the Audubon Center and they told me they would euthanize it simply because many area raccoons have rabies. They said they refused to take chances.

Which could explain the biting attack on the woman and the dog off the Thurman bridge.

I recently saw a raccoon the size of a border collie on my neighbors' deck and could not scare it away.

Comments (37)

Maybe the coyote will eat the raccoons?

Last time I heard, on this very blog if I recall correctly, the city had more or less done away with Animal Control, due to budget have to pay for such services out of your own pocket, if you have anything in your pocket left by the time our loving Commissars are though with you. Aren't our automobilephobe Mayor's shiny new coal-powered trolleys going to be grand ?

My unwavering derision for the profligates running our city on hot rails to bankruptcy aside, some of these raccoons get quite large, and are not afraid of people in the least...they will give out these growls and hisses that have to be heard to be believed. They are smart, too, and have hands that can grip. There is a whole family of coons that has repeatedly attempted to make a home under my front porch...I wouldn't be all that surprised to spot them wielding primitive tools some morning in order to pry up boards or get in the garbage can.

I think those raccoons are darn cute but I've heard some stories that send chills down me. They are capable of taking down large dogs in a very cruel manner(eating the face off one pit bull in the goose hollow area. this took place in the dogs yard where the raccoon dragged the pit under the porch where the owner could not intervene and dropping out of trees to kill an 100lb rottie. just 2 examples). I look at them differently now.

Raccoons have very infectious bacteria capable of having one lose their limbs if bit and infection sets in. Stay away from them.

Their feces is very bacterial and dangerous as well. Which they will release in a fight. Clean it up very well, twice.

the city had more or less done away with Animal Control, due to budget cuts...

Cabbie: Animal Control is a Multnomah County function, not City of Portland. Your snark is very, well...snarky, but misplaced.

They also can carry the parvo virus which is very fatal for dogs as well as the raccoons. Of all urban wildlife they freak me out the most even more then rats.

Animal Control is a Multnomah County function, not City of Portland.

I guess I tend to lump Portland and Mult Co into one entity when it comes to budgetary issues.

A co-worker of mine has a great story about a customer calling him on her cell phone to warn him about the humongous coon waiting outside of her apartment door late one dark, dark night. He said the thing looked like it was not afraid in the least to take them on then and there. Terrifying.

I mean, what do you do when confronted by one of these disease-carrying bandits ? If you shoot it with a .22, you are in a world of hurt with the authorities for discharging a firearm within the city limits. If you hit it with some pepper spray or something, you make it mad, and it bites you.

Not too long ago, the fattest, surliest one under my porch made a stand...I had to chuck all kinds of stuff at it from the street before it decided to...slowly...retreat.

Any ideas ?

"Any ideas?"

...Poison-tipped blow-darts

Ah, the trials and tribulations of living in the hills on the west side of Portland.

West Hills, nothing. I have a friend who lives near 217 and 26, and has had similar problems with raccoons (no attacks, but they've shown a serious lack of interest in leaving, despite the fact that my friend has thrown anything within arm's reach at them). Her family has trapped more than a dozen of the critters from her yard in the last couple of years and released them in undeveloped areas of Washington County.

released them in undeveloped areas of Washington County

There are still undeveloped areas in Washington County?

Biggest raccoon I ever saw (huge, maybe 45/50 lbs) was in downtown San Francisco. (Even PETA would have a hard time saying S.F. was part of their historic habitat.) It was successfully removing the bungee cord tie downs on a commercial garbage can. It wasn’t concerned by my presence, or that I out weighted it by 200 lbs.

Still...That's out in the tulies as far as I'm concerned.

I've lost two rabbits and three chickens to raccoons over the past ten years. Twilight is no time to have your pets unattended in your back yard in the wilds of Richmond neighborhood.

I saw a biggish one go over the fence after killing my Angora rabbit.

A neighbor tells me he saw two full-sized raccoons squabbling over something...perhaps my hen?

If there are this many of them, and they, according to the Audubon folks, are rabies threats...what the heck is the problem with Animal Control? Don't they control dangerous animals?

I've lived a couple blocks from Providence hospital for the last fifteen years. I've always had raccoons. They usually pass through my yard in the early morning. I think they live over in Sullivan's gulch. My cats like to watch them, but they know to keep their distance. They don't seem to be afraid of people; I've had them walk by within ten feet of me while I'm standing still.

One of the problems is that folks feed them either intentionally as one neighbor does and thinks the babies are cute, or unintentionally by leaving food outside for cats. In the rural areas they are routinely shot as they feast on fowl and small domestic animals. They can get in and make a mess of ductwork and insulation under the house or in the attic. They are wild animals and don't domesticate. In the city they have no natural predators to control the population, and if the Audubon Society offs them regularly that should tell folks something. If you go out in the back yard and find pieces of your beloved pet scattered around the yard. It changes your perspective on these "cute" creatures.

The best way to legally get rid of them is to live trap them and submerge the trap with the coon in a barrel of water and drown them. It sounds cruel, but is relatively quick and painless. Put the carcass in a garbage bag and into the garbage. Wear gloves through the whole process. Dispose of the gloves too.

I used to work at the Law School on graveyard shift. I saw tons of them. they made frequent visits in the trash bins. I never had close encounters with them when I came to empty them. Guess they knew my schedules. I live in SE area I have not seen it at least once. I have nicer critters like squirrels and occassionally cats as well as birds.

I live right in the Sunnyside area, and we get these bastards coming through our yard all the time. Last year a mom and her 3 or 4 young hung out under our deck from time to time. I finally started pouring boiling water on them to get them out of there--last thing in the world I want, with a 2 year old daughter and a 70 lb. dog running around my backyard, are raccoons who think they own the place.

"Any ideas ?"

Crossbow? Tazer? Heh, theres an idea, a "varmint" tazer variant.

Raccoons are all over my place this year. Last week, we had one come strolling out of the woods and when we tried to shoo it away from the yard (where we have two dogs and two cats) it did not want to go.

We "chased" it with a rake and a garden hose. It treated the spraying like it was a shower. Not even mildly frightened or encouraged to leave. We finally gave up and left it alone.

We figured it was sick or dying. My neighbor thinks it crawled under her shed and is hanging out there, possibly preparing to croak.

Last summer there was a rolling raccoon brawl in my yard involving at least 4 raccoons that was hair-raising in its intensity and duration.

A dead raccoon or a nutria has a sweet, awful mind blowing smell that stays with you until you croak.

I live in a very urbanized part of inner NE, not near any parks. We get raccoons all the time. I've found them just sitting with our cats before, like they don't even recognize a difference.

I'm not surprised they have disease issues and should be given a wide berth, but I find it hard to believe that they're a serious danger to large dogs or children. If raccoons killed children, we'd be hearing about it all the time - there is no shortage of raccoon/human interaction in the PNW.

"simply because many area raccoons have rabies"

this is just not true. rabies is/was epidemic in raccoons in the north east -- not in oregon. the identification of a rabid raccoon would result in a major animal control operation and wide-spread free vaccinations of pets.

"If you go out in the back yard and find pieces of your beloved pet scattered around the yard."

i call BS on the anecdotal stories of pet dismemberments by raccoons. its far more likely that coyotes or strays were responsible.

"is to live trap them and submerge the trap with the coon in a barrel of water and drown them"

yeah and waterboarding is not torture too.

Round up the raccoons and send them to a secure facility in Cuba!

Many times I've watched my cats watch the racoons as they pass through. My cats seem to know not to mess with them and the raccoons don't seem interested in my cats. They mostly seem to dig around in my lawn for grubs.

When I was a kid, I saw a racoon literally tear apart a grown Red Irish Setter on a second-floor raised/fenced deck at my neighbor's house. The dog had to be taken to the veterinarian and took some serious time to heal.

You can't underestimate the power of a cornered coon. I see them all the time on my nightly walk through inner NE including on busy streets such as Fremont and Sandy. Surprised a few in people's yards over the years as I walk by on the sidewalk. Generaly they are pretty timid and shuffle (or run) off.

If a coon sunk its teeth into my leg and wouldn't let go, you can bet I wouldn't think twice about cappin' 'im with my 9 (in the words of 2 $hort).

Another interesting perspective here.

When Trimet was digging the tunnel for Westside MAX, we had three Raccoons and a possum family living in our backyard. (And we live near downtown Beaverton.)
Fortunately, they all left on their own without need for violence.
As for "cornered coons" being vicious....try cornering a Possum sometime.

(a tear slowly falls) "Raccoons are people too!" :(

I think there is a critical stage of development, which some never reach (or skip right over), when we have to make peace with life, death and reality. Death is not sadistic or unusual, it just IS. And we humans are neither angels nor demons, but flesh and blood animals, just trying to survive until we're gone.

When I must kill to continue my existence and my space, I honor the fact that the animal that died was just trying to do the same for its self and its young.

There is no inherent evil in raccoons; they're incredible survivalists and remarkably intelligent. However, I will win this contest of existence... and so will my garden and my pets, because they are part of my existence. I will survive and they will go (one way or the other). There is no cruelty in this: it's the circle of life as it has always worked.

Hear, Hear, Annie.

I personally like the boiling water idea.

The raccoon population here is cyclic; we just happen to be on an upswing now. Think of it as "climate change".

In the next year or so, distemper will spread through much of the population again; killing off a majority of them.

That would be your "global cooling" phase.

I guess I'm happy to "stumble" onto this blog. Thank you. Just last night, around 11pm, my large breed 1 year old dog and I were settling in for the evening. She suddenly went ballistic, running from window to window (she has never done this before) so I decided to investigate by flipping on the lights to the deck.

There stood a huge raccoon drinking out of her water bowl! Scampered away when it heard me open the door. Problem is, the coon was not the least bit startled by my big dog's barking or the just kept drinking. From now on, I'll pick up the bowl, and bring in my dog earlier...I never knew about the dusk issue, when the critters are out in force. Thank you for this blog and the replies. I live in Tigard. They say if you help one person...

Urban raccoons can be a big problem in populated areas. The policy now is to euthanize them, rather than relocate, because they just keep coming back and causing trouble.

Our six year-old daughter found one on our patio last year. My husband made a lot of noise and acted bigger than he was and was able to chase it away and up a tree.

Having been attacked by one of these "cute" critters back in 1998, I stay as far away from them as I can. They can tear a hole through your wall if they want to - the one that attacked me did. I have two chunks out of my arm and limited use of the arm thanks to the attack. Luckily, we were able to trap the raccoon so that I was able to escape having the rabies shot treatment.

I highly recommend getting nowhere near them. They look very cute, but can be very vicious.


Your comments are spot on. Too bad we can't put out a warning scent that lets the raccoons know they have entered enemy territory when they traverse our yards.

We live near the vast tracts of undeveloped land between Lewis & Clark College and Macadam, most of which is occupied by forest and cemetaries. I assume that land is full of critters (we hear the coyotes and see the deer), though we haven't seen a raccoon in years.

I don't have all the details yet but a neighbor who lives in the condo building next door here in NW Portland woke up in the middle of the night recently to a loud crashing sound: a raccoon had fallen down an air shaft or hole in the roof into the bedroom closet. The owner slammed the closet door shut before the raccoon could get out. I'll post more when I have additional details or ask the owner to post.

We have had families of raccoons prowling around our street (two blocks from Trendy-Third Avenue)for the last decade or so, except for the years when distemper thinned their ranks. Several neighbors have set traps and had them removed over the years, but they just keep coming back. They used to wake me up in the middle of the night padding up the stairs of the fire escape next to my bedroom, squealing and sometimes fighting, or possibly killing small prey.

Some of the posts above read like urban legends. Did a pack of raccoons really drag a pit bull under a back porch in Goose Hollow and eat its face off? If yes, perhaps the title of the topic should be changed to "Raccoon Horror Tales."

two octobers ago i took some friends from KF here out to Coos Bay to camp in a yurt at Sunset Bay. I stayed up very late (3 or so) just hanging around by myself by the fire and getting trashed. I heard a rustle in the bushes, and a raccoon came out. And then another. And then another. After about 20 minutes, there were probably 10-15 of them scuffling around our campsite looking for food, which was all in the truck for this very reason. Two of them hopped up on the picnic table I was sitting at. The rest gathered around. It was bizarre. I was sitting there with a dozen or so raccoons surrounding me (no shit.. there i was....), drunk, and I got the distinct feeling that I was no longer welcome and the throw-down was about to commence. I slept in the truck.

We had a small family of them that lived in the woods next to our house in North Bend. There's a picture of some of them in the OrPhotos area. They were ballzy little creatures. I always enjoyed watching them eat corncobs. The big female had cataracts so I figured she was fairly old and left them to their own devices for the most part.

it wasn't a pack of raccoons it was just one that, yes, dragged a pit bull under the deck and ate it's face off. very traumatizing for everybody involved.

Thanks for your post, Lukin.


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Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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