By Dave Coulter
Last night I finally got around to seeing Raccoon Nation on PBS. I'm sure that, like me, many of you have personal and probably dreadful experiences with these vermin. Nevertheless I was thrilled to see a nature program that was relevant to our tattered bio-region. If you have ever cleaned up a disgorged garbage can, you'd just love it.
The funniest part for me was the sad story about how imported raccoons are now decimating ancient Buddhist temples in Japan. Funny only because the book Rascal had apparently become an animated hit in Japan, causing the importation of thousands of raccoons as pets. Now that's funny.
Anyone who lives around here could have counseled those hapless Japanese families as to what the grim outcome would be. How do you translate "pellet gun" into Japanese, I wonder? If you think I'm being too mean spirited, look up Raccoon Roundworm. See you at Cabela's....
Rascal, indeed! That book has caused more misunderstanding than the Bible.
I hope the ghost of Sterling North is pleased with all of the property damage this coming of age story has fostered. I would have loved to have given a copy of that book to the neighbor across the block who had a family of raccoons living in the eaves of his roof. I won't even get into the numerous encounters I have had with the noble raccoon - but that could be material for another blog post or two.
But, the nature lover in me has to admire their pluck. They have adapted themselves to urban life in a spectacular way. Get this:
"It seems that the more obstacles you throw in their way, the smarter they get. In an effort to outwit raccoons, we may be pushing their brain development and perhaps even sending them down a new evolutionary path. One biologist who has been studying raccoons for 25 years believes the city life is in fact cultivating “über-raccoons,” ready to take over the world..."
I used to think that in a million years that it would be giant cockroaches driving around in cars, listening to disco music. But after watching Raccoon Nation I may have to revise my theory.