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Re: interesting visitor

> From: Pamela J. Evans <gardenqueen@gbronline.com>
> Kitty - yes I did mean away from the house. But Donna has a point
> dependency too. I would like to hear Jesse's spin on this when she
> back as she knows more than I do and can advise you better....

Well, I just posted a volume on this before I read down in my inbox
to see all the other comments.

Regarding dependency - yes and no.  They do become dependent, as I
mentioned, but they still forage as normal.  They will not starve if
you don't feed for a week - they might be more hungry than normal but
they won't keel over.  If you stop feeding, then they will either
find other food sources or have to find a new territory.  Fact of
life.  If you did not feed, then many of the young from each year's
litter would need to move farther away or move sooner to find their
own territory that would support them.  If you do feed, your area
(their territory) will support more for longer than it would

My observation of raccoons is that they tend to stick around in loose
family groups.  The females with kits will go off on their own and
not encourage other adults, but adult siblings who are not pregnant
or with babies hang out together, feed together, argue and even nest
together if they can find a large enough place.  Different
generations will come together at a feeding place and then go their
separate ways...they do know each other, however, and a group that
knows each other won't allow a stranger to enter...talk about
caterwauling and fighting!

Regarding rabies and other diseases.  Yes, wildlife is subject to
many ills, poor things. Most illnesses result in death.  Raccoons get
distemper as well as other diseases.   Rabies is, indeed, a serious
issue.  However, if you observe wildlife, you can tell whether or not
they are acting normally.  If they aren't, you go inside and observe
and, take any necessary steps.  If they are, just let them go about
their business.  I don't know of any of the smaller wildlife that are
aggressive without cause.  Of course, you have to understand what
they consider "cause", which may not be what you'd think it is.  

Wild animals are like domesticated animals except that they're wild. 
Each has its own personality - just like our own dogs and cats.  They
are not, however, totally predictable, like our dogs and cats and
they all have very strong territorial instincts and will go to
lengths to protect their young if they feel they are threatened.  

If you have young children, you might want to think about encouraging
wildlife to a great extent.  If you do not have young children around
and you keep an eye on any domestic pets you have, then I see no
reason not to encourage wildlife if you wish to.  You just need to
learn about the animals, observe them so you know what normal
behavior is and use common sense.

Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
Editor:  Gardening in Shade
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