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Raccoons take up residence at the White House

February 7, 2009 |  7:40 am

Raccoons take up residence at the White House

The Obamas aren't the only new family to move to the White House of late -- our friend Andrew Malcolm at the Top of the Ticket blog explains that a family of raccoons has taken up residence there too:

Groundskeepers have set out several traps for the nocturnal creatures, using bipartisan bait -- cat food, apples and peanut butter, presumably untainted. So far to no avail on the well-manicured acreage that resembles any welcoming urban park, save for the lack of blowing refuse, the heavily armed patrols, motion detectors, secret tunnels and video surveillance of every square inch. Still, no prisoners.

So-called "live traps" have been set to catch the raccoons -- one large one and several medium-sized ones, who've been spotted on the White House grounds near the Executive Mansion and the West Wing.  They'll be released into a wooded area by the National Park Service if they're successfully caught. 

In an interview with the Washington Post's Michael D. Shear, Washington-area raccoon trapper Tim McDowell explains why he thinks the varmints haven't been caught yet:

"See, their cages probably don't smell right," McDowell explained. "They probably don't have the smell of other raccoons on them." ...

Normally, McDowell charges $195 for the setup fee plus $50 for each raccoon caught. But if asked, he said he would trap the raccoons for free. "I won't charge 'em nothing," he said. "We do it every day."

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Felix Adamo / Associated Press

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