Raccoons are clever, resourceful little animals but even they can find themselves in a jam that their hand-like paws can’t get them out of. This was certainly the case for a raccoon in Welland, Ontario who apparently decided to explore the storm drain system only to get his head stuck when he poked it through a grate.
Fortunately for this raccoon, a passerby saw the predicament he was in and called for help. As John Greer of the local SPCA pointed out, “If nobody noticed him, he would have died of starvation. Sometimes they fight so much he could have turned a certain way and suffocated himself.” He also explained that raccoons use the sewer system as their own private tunnel system.
Greer and his crew went to work with some of the usual tools of their trade, like rope and a crowbar, to try and lift the sewer grate, but no amount of prying or pulling would make it budge. They called the fire department in the hope that they’d have equipment that would do the job. Meanwhile, the skies opened up. Now they were racing against the clock: they needed to get the raccoon free before a torrent of water came rushing down the gutter, possibly drowning the immobilized animal. The firemen went at the grate with their “jaws of life,” but no avail. Finally, they were reduced to bashing the edge of the grate with a sledgehammer. That couldn’t have been pleasant for the raccoon, but it did loosen the grate enough that they could pry it up. From there, getting the raccoon unstuck was pretty straightforward.
The raccoon was whisked off to a wildlife rehabilitation specialist. She had a look at him and declared he was suitable for immediate release, so they took him to a field and let him free (no storm drains in the immediate vicinity).
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