A family of raccoons that took shelter in the Durango Home Depot garden center prompted a response last week from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which evicted the trespassing marauders and released them south of town.
Sebastian Garcia, Home Depot garden department supervisor, pulled down a large wooden crate June 2 filled with rakes and shovels, when he happened upon a mama and four baby raccoons bunking among the tools.
When the crate was brought down 18 feet from the top shelf and landed on the ground, the mama raccoon fled the scene and hid inside a stack of cinder blocks. The babies were left in the toolbox until CPW arrived.
“We put a sandbag over the top of the cement pallet hole so the mama couldn’t escape and run back up the shelves,” said Claudia Dewgew, manager of customer experiences at Home Depot.
Dewgew called CPW and blocked off the back corner of the garden center with gates so customers wouldn't disturb the babies. She believes the garden department has housed the baby raccoons since they were born.
“She probably thought it was safe, you know, ‘No one’s up here, and no one is going to bug me,’” she said.
The empty garden department at night had lots to offer for the family of five. Feasting on plants, berries and scraps left behind by customers, the nocturnal animals probably enjoyed their time at Home Depot. However, hundreds of customers invaded their residence during the day.
A Home Depot employee used a forklift to get to the mama raccoon, who burrowed herself deep in the cement pallet while a CPW officer seized the raccoon with a catch pole.
The family was placed in a kennel for transportation. Dewgew said the operation took no more than 30 minutes.
CPW released the raccoons south of Durango along the Animas River. Happy to enter her new home, the mama raccoon bolted out of the kennel while her four babies were more hesitant. Officers made sure the family was reunited.
“We watched them from a distance with one of our spotting scopes and saw the whole family climbing a tree by the river,” said John Livingston, spokesman with CPW.
Once reunited, we took this raccoon family a little bit south in Durango for their release into much more suitable habitat.— CPW SW Region (@CPW_SW) June 3, 2023
Mom ran out well, but we needed to help the babies get over to her before leaving them be. pic.twitter.com/LcOLRgAXuf