Nature Notes

Vol. VIII December, 1930 No. 13

Prowlers in the Dusk

Also among those present - and every much so - are the Raccoons. Under the protective policy of the Park Service the majority of our birds and animals are increasing in number. This is particularly so of the bears and now it appears as if the Coons are going to give them a good race for first honors.

Because of the fact thta these fellows are nocturnal most of the Park's visitors fail to see these interesting animals in their natural habitat. But there are few homes at Longmire that do not boast of one or two regular nightly visitors. With tempting bits of food Mr. and Mrs. Raccoon - often together with the rest of the family - are enticed away from their dens as the shades of night settle down upon the deeply wooded slopes that hem the valley of the Nisqually. They are not afraid of the glare of electric porch lights and readily come from the shadows of the timber to partake of the food that is offerred. Their peculiarities are interesting. In the snow we see the tracks that have such a startling resemblance to the foot and hand prints of a small child. But there in the light we are treated to another feature - for we can readily watch them as they select a chunk of bread and with every evidence of good "table manners" handle it in their fore paws while partaking of their feast. Oftentimes they appear a little ahead of schedule, or perhaps we are a bit tardy in placing our offering before them. Then they will wander discontently back and forth across the porch, watching intently for the opening of the door that brings the friendly hand-out. And perhaps if we are too late they will advance boldly to the glass of the door and gase wonderingly within.

They are shrewd and apparently possessed of a very pronounced sweet tooth. One evening a small piece of cake was feed them. They devoured it with rellish. The next evening a small piece of this delicacy was placed beneath a pile of the customar bread. But the coons refused to be fooled. Advancing toward the food they stopped but a moment to size the situation up - then scattered the bread and engaged in a spirited argument over the lone piece of cake that they found. It was by tempting them this sort of food that they finally overcame their fear of us and ventured within our home. They were regular guests for many evenings after that - but only cake as "bait" could induce them to become our guests in that manner.

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