Baby Raccoon!

It was B’s last morning on the island, so we made one more whale-watch run, with no luck. As we drove back, we saw something small and obviously alive in the middle of the road, moving in an odd way.

We stopped to inspect further, and realized it was a baby raccoon. The little guy wasn’t hurt, he was just so young that he still wobbled.

“Awww!!” B and I said in unison as Matt donned gloves and scooped up the kit, who began growling fiercely. Matt walked a few yards into the woods off the side of the road, put the kit down and then began walking back to the truck.

Matt pauses for a quick picture with the baby raccoon before putting him into the woods, where we thought he'd stay.

Matt pauses for a quick picture with the baby raccoon before putting him into the woods, where we thought he’d stay. Photos by Bernadette Pflug.

Here came the ‘coon. Like all animals around Matt, it seemed to instantly gravitate toward him. We stood and watched in surprise as that baby raccoon wobbled its way back to the road and

After Matt put him further back into the woods, the baby raccoon climbed over a log...

After Matt put him further back into the woods, the baby raccoon climbed over a log…

straight back to Matt, stopping at his boots.

...and made his way back to Matt.

…and made his way back to Matt.

So Matt scooped him up again and this time, took him several hundred yards into the woods, where he sat him down carefully before sprinting back to the truck.

Once back home, I fretted about the kit, and did some Internet searches about what to do when you find one. Yes, Matt was right: leave it alone, as the mother raccoon will likely return within two to eight hours. If she’s not back by then, you can assume it’s orphaned.

Eight hours later, I called the Wolf Hollow Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on San Juan Island and told them about the baby raccoon. The staff person who answered the phone, a friendly young woman, agreed that if the mother raccoon had not returned by now that we should bring the kit to the center.

Would he still be there?

It was early evening when we drove back to the road near that part of the woods. We hiked back to where we had left the kit…and he was gone. I felt a pang of disappointment.

“Maybe his mom came and got him,” I said to Matt, although I didn’t believe it even as I said it. I was afraid a fox had found him first.

Matt started walking in the opposite direction, searching carefully. I turned and scanned the nearby woods and realized how futile this effort was–the woods were thick and lush, and a small dark baby raccoon would be well camouflaged. It was also growing dark.

I decided to try one more thing, and using the universal “mom” voice, I called to the kit in a low and loving tone.

“Hey, little man, are you still here?” I crooned, and immediately, there was a squeal from somewhere a few yards away.

“Baby?” I called, and in return, got another squeal. He was there! So I began taking a few steps in the direction of the squeal, walking carefully, and every few steps I would stop and croon, and he would squeal in reply.

Then suddenly I saw him, huddled against a rock on the ground. I called out to Matt, who was wearing gloves, and he scooped up the kit who once again growled fiercely.

“We don’t believe you,” I told him cheerfully, and we put him in a box we had brought and walked him back to the truck.

Even though it was after 8 p.m., a sign at the wildlife center said they would take wildlife in need at any hour. We dropped off the kit to the staffer, who said he would be in good company.

“We’ve had a lot of abandoned baby raccoons lately,” she said, and we both looked at each other and shrugged. Eagles? Hawks? Tourists? Who knows why.

Hopefully, this one will have a fighting chance.

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