Some Seattle construction workers were surprised to arrive at work last week to find two raccoons shacked up in a 150-foot tower crane, which was being used to build an apartment building at the corner of 24rd and Market. Experts were called in, but they were not able to catch the raccoons — they just had to wait for them to leave on their own. Why, you might ask? Well, partly because raccoons can run 15 miles an hour, while construction workers tend to stand in one place going, “Holy shit, raccoons!” And partly because raccoons are sly little bastards. They like to cause problems and run away. Sometimes they bite people. (They run away after that too. They are good at going through garbage and getting rabies and killing cats — they are not so good at taking responsibility for their actions.)
One of the construction workers told the Examiner, “This is the first time I’ve seen a raccoon in a tower crane.” I daresay it won’t be the last. I tried to find out how many raccoons there are in the United States and couldn’t get a good number, but I can say, based on the number of times researchers say their population has increased exponentially, there are a whole fuckload of them. And they have to live somewhere. And until raccoon experts and cops can run faster than 15 mph, somewhere is apparently going to include cranes, as well as wherever they want.
I leave you with this chilling quote from Stan Gehrt, a wildlife biologist and internationally recognized raccoon expert. “The more we’ve looked at raccoons, the harder they are to understand.” But we obviously can’t just stop looking, because then, they will turn all of our cranes into raccoon hotels, and that’s just not an option.
Update: OK, if you heard about crane-occupying raccoons in Seattle and then read our story about crane-occupying raccoons in San Francisco and freaked out, DON’T PANIC, IT HASN’T STARTED YET. We just got the city wrong. But, you know, look for crane-occupying raccoons in San Francisco any day now.
Get Grist in your inbox