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Same with raccoons, who will eat a whole lot more but are far less smelly.
About 20 years ago or so, we were going through more than 60 pounds of cat food a week. I had an automatic feeder outside. So I set up a surveillance camera and a motion sensor. It turned out we were feeding an awful lot of raccoons.
So I mounted the feeder on some ceramic insulators on the steel porch deck., wired up an electric fence charger where it could be momentarily turned on and off from inside the house, hooked the camera feed to the VCR, put in a blank tape, and went to bed
Sure enough about 1 AM, the motion sensor beeped in the bedroom letting me know something was on the porch. I rolled over, grabbed the remote, and turned on the TV. There was an entire gang of raccoons in the feeder. On top of the feeder. In the feeder dispensing chute. They were chowing down.
I started the VCR recording - in those days there wasn't social media so the animal rights people wouldn't show up like a swarm of LA rioters after Reginald Denny, and reached for the switch that controlled the electric fence charger.
The alpha male of the bunch looked like he'd been at the feeder quite a bit. He was morbidly obese, kind of like Jabba the Hut. I think he was the fattest raccoon I'd ever seen. Alicia and I watched him on the TV and named him "Tubby".
So with the toggle switch in my hand, it was time to put Tubby on a diet. The circuit completed, and suddenly the feeder was energized with about 4,500 volts of electricity, current limited to about 5 to 6 milliamps, because you want to give them a good enough shock they won't forget, but you don't want to fry them like Ted Bundy in Florida's electric chair.
He got a zap of about a two count. Tubby was 2 handfuls deep into the food, leaning on the electrified feeder, while his hind feet were on the steel deck, completing the circuit. He goes all spastic and let out this distorted holler around his mouthful of food, and the current was just enough he couldn't let go.
As soon as the electricity cut out, he took off waddling as fast as his short little legs could propel his watermelon shaped body. He moved surprisingly fast for such a fat dude. At the end of the porch out of frame from the surveillance camera, was a bunch of .50 caliber ammo cans, empty. Picture a bunch of bowling pins, and Tubby as the bowling ball. From the awful racket captured by the microphone, it sounded like Tubby rolled a strike as he ran through the stack of cans with a loud clatter, and plopped to the ground some 3 feet below, and probably kept running.
Well, with Tubby out of the way, having taken all of the current, and the circuit off again, Beta male immediately took up Tubby's position at the trough. The other raccoons figured Tubby's loud and panicked departure just meant more food for them, since the ones actually on top of and inside the feeder were not touching any grounded part of the circuit. So like birds resting on a 12,500 volt power line in an alley, they didn't get zapped.
So once it looked like Beta was completing a circuit, another flip of the switch gave him a taste of what mysterious force possessed Tubby and caused him to abdicate his throne so suddenly.
Beta had a slightly different pitched shriek. When the current was cut, Beta did a reverse somersault, slinging a double handful of cat food into a neat parabolic arc where it went up about 4 feet then clattered into the mesh as he fled in the direction Tubby had run.
This had to be repeated about 3 times before the rest of the raccoons finally figured out that the party was being busted and they'd better head for the hills themselves.
Next night, there were only about 8 raccoons in the feeder, and it took about 2 zaps before the rest of them ran off. I could see our large outdoor tomcat at the time angrily watching the raccoons from a distance, and this time Delta Male, I presume, assuming the new promotion of Alpha, ran right past the cat, who reached out and gave him a swipe of claws to the snout.
Once the raccoons were gone, the cats all swarmed the feeder. Evidently the entire herd had been watching helplessly as the coons hijacked their food. Of course we left the current off for the night so the cats could eat in peace.
By the 3rd night of this, there were only a couple of fairly small raccoons. One zap was enough, and the cats now outnumbered the stragglers and chased the rest of them off.
Cat food consumption went from more than 60 pounds per week to about 20, which is reasonable for the number of tribbles - um - cats we had at the time.
Someone had promised to digitize the footage for us, probably an xvid encode, but ended up losing the original tape, so it's gone forever most likely.
The raccoons never came back? Poor cats. Raccoons can scavage but cats don’t have as many natural food sources.
well, probably *those* raccoons didn't come back, but every month or so, I'd find a couple of new ones that were in the feeder, so the zap setup remained going for several more years.
It probably didn't hurt them permanently, but the cats were very appreciative of whatever invisible force chased the raccoons away from their food.
It was for the best. It ruins the natural system when people feed wildlife, even unaware.
Now I need to discourage the skunks from raiding the cat food on the porch. I've resorted to just feeding them only in daylight, although in the mornings they are lying in wait just outside the door:
You can’t zap skunks. They will spray everywhere.
Overhead sprinklers and a tank full of tomato juice to soak it down after they've sprayed?