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October 26, 2010

Rehabbed Raccoons Ready for Life in the Wild

The Cape Wildlife Center releases the last of the spring crop of orphaned raccoons

  • After being released, the rehabilitated raccoons ate a few more grapes...

  • examined their new habitat...

  • and disappeared into the night. The HSUS

By Julie Hauserman

Spring and summer always brings an influx of orphaned baby raccoons to The Humane Society of the United States’ Cape Wildlife Center, and this summer was no different.

A delicate process

For about five months, compassionate staff and volunteers at the center in Barnstable, Massachusetts, patiently cared for more than 30 orphaned raccoons. It’s a delicate process: They bottle-feed the young raccoons, but must take care that they don’t become too fond of their human caretakers—this would be dangerous once they returned to the wild.

“The raccoons start coming in in April, and we try to release them all by Labor Day,” said Cape Wildlife Animal Care Technician Joy Frankio.

Ever-larger homes

During their rehabilitation, the young raccoons move through a series of homes—a nursery area, larger cages, and still larger outdoor enclosures—until they reach the age when they can fend for themselves. That’s when it’s time for them to go back to the wild.

Into the night

On September 22, the last three orphans were released to live out their lives in the wild. The three males—brought to the center in April when they were each just a month old—were taken to Mashpee Conservation area next to Coonamessett Pond, about a mile into the woods along a fish-filled stream.

Once their carrier cages were opened, the raccoons emerged, ate one last human-prepared snack, explored a little, then ventured into the night.

“They all seemed very content and not the least bit interested in us,” reported Cape Wildlife Animal Technician Heather Fone. “To be back in the wild where they belong is a wonderful thing.”

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