It was a beautiful Saturday Summer day in Western Massachusetts. I had lined up three chimney raccoon jobs and thankfully I was able to get my wife to come along and help. I am not very good on roofs and chimneys, let alone handling so many fireplaces in one day. Some of my colleagues talk about handling these jobs in an hour, I can only wish to be that fast. My chimney raccoon removal method at the time was Rich Daniotti’s Chimney Trap System 1. This is the trap system without the chimney brushes. You are supposed to set the trap and come back the next day. I never felt confident enough with that method, so I would just drive the female up the chimney and catch her the same day.
The first two jobs went okay despite being rather long. The sun was shinning and the temperature was beginning to rise. I felt good about the money I was making but I was beginning to feel rather tired. The last job of the day was two floor house in a nearby town. We didn’t start there till after 3:00 pm. Already the sweat was pouring out of my body and it was not at all comfortable. After greeting the client and checking out the fireplace, I accessed the roof and installed the chimney trap. The roof was a little more pitched than I like and the tiles were beginning to get soft. I knew I had to move quickly in order to finish the job today. With the trap installed, I began to harass the mother to get her to climb the chimney and enter the trap. She was a little stubborn at first but in a couple of minutes, I heard the pleasant sound of the metal trap door closing. I thought it was a bit strange that it sounded so loud. I am partially deaf in my left ear, but I figured the acoustics were right. Feeling kind a proud of myself, I exit the building looking for the chimney to see my trapped raccoon. I was a bit surprised that I didn’t see the trap. I guessed that the roof line was blocking my view, so I stepped further away from the house to get a clearer ground view of the chimney. My stomach sank when I saw the top of the chimney with no raccoon and worst of all no trap. I felt even worse knowing that the chimney was surrounded by building so if my trap fell it would not fall harmlessly to the ground. I started getting worried about the cost of potential damages. By the way, did I mention that the client was a lawyer?
I swung around the building looking for my trap. I passed a corner, looked up and there was my trap and trapped raccoon hanging by the bungee cords against the chimney. On the roof below, urine and feces were sprayed. It seems that the trap wasn’t stabilized enough or she flew out of the chimney so fast that the trap lifted up dislodging it from the chimney. Feeling that she was falling, she literally messed herself she was so scared. Thankfully, the bungee cords stopped the trap from falling on the asphalt shingled roof below. The house wasn’t damaged by the impact either because the trap only hit the side of the brick chimney. Thank God, I had truly dodged a bullet on this one. The client didn’t even notice my mistake. He was just glad that the job was getting done.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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