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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Cookie Monster with Velvet Paws

In the wetlands east of Sutter Buttes there’s a rice farm, and on this farm there’s a machine shed.

It’s one of those open machine sheds where swallows swoop in and out and a pair of phoebes may nest under the eaves.

Since farmers get the munchies, there’s a plastic jar with animal crackers on the workbench.
When the staff showed up for work last Wednesday the cookie jar was on the floor.
The jar was half empty. Something had pigged out on animal crackers.   

There were no bite marks or signs of brute force, but a cookie monster had managed to twist off the plastic screw lid.

So the farmer set a live trap on Monday, and the next morning the cookie monster’s identity was no longer a mystery.

In the trap was the raccoon's svelte cousin, the ringtail (Bassaricus astutus).

The farmer drove it to a remote area where there was plenty of ringtail habitat and let it go.

Energized by cookies and enabled by velvet paws with retractile claws, it dashed up a tree like magic.

That's a happy ending, I told my friend, but if the rascal comes back, I have a camera trap to see how it opens the cookie jar.

[Many thanks to Tony Rosa for telling me about this event, and to Bill and Susan Shaul and Carol and Frank Rosa for assembling the facts.]