Ralph Arwood Photography


Thursday, October 22, 2015 4:52 AM

For many years Gisela and I have volunteered at the wildlife hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Gisela uses her nursing skills to help care for the animal patients. I have worked as a critter courier and occasional as a photographer. One of the perks of the job is that you get to release critters back into the wild. Because we spend a good bit of time in the wilds of South Florida, we are often asked to release critters that would fare better away from people.

Raising baby raccoons requires a lot of human / raccoon interaction. The raccoons get use to being around people. Before they are ready for release into the wild their contact with people is limited so that they will behave as normal raccoons. By the time they are ready for release they are not afraid of people but will maintain their distance. Many of the bottle fed raccoons do better if they are released where they will have little human contact until they are fully acclimated to the wild.

The ride from the hospital to the woods is a new experience that usually causes a lot of conversation.

Not having a fear of humans makes the recently released raccoons great photographic subjects. They will allow you to watch them as they go about being a raccoon.

As part of their acclimation to the wild they spend time in outdoor cages. They will often sleep in a pet carrier as they get used to being outdoors. When they are released the pet carrier they traveled in offers them a bit of security and the familiar. Sometimes they are a bit slow to give it up.