‘Wild’ trespassers keep local police officers busy

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In area communities, often the most annoying and frequent trespassers on people’s properties aren’t humans, but animals. These wild offenders keep local police busy, and occasionally entertained.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

In area communities, often the most annoying and frequent trespassers on people’s properties aren’t humans, but animals. And while these critters might be stealing from your trash cans rather than your car, local police officers are still responsible for assuring they don’t become a further problem.

The Monona Police Department responds to around three animal-related calls each week, said police chief Jo Amsden.

“Usually they’re being a nuisance,” she said, “getting into garbage or ruining people’s gardens.”

The biggest offenders, she said, are opossums, raccoons and, increasingly, skunks, along with cats and dogs. She’s even been called about a snake, but declined to take on that situation.

Mar-Mac Police Chief Jason Bogdonovich said the frequency of animal-related calls in his communities depends on the season.

“It seems like we get more calls in the fall, when raccoons and deer are in the area more,” he stated. “In Marquette and McGregor, it’s not uncommon to see a deer in someone’s yard.”

While wild animal complaints occasionally occur, he said the department tends to deal more with cats and dogs.

“Lately, it’s been more dogs,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, it’s because they got loose.”

Officers transport the animals to Southwest Veterinary Service in Prairie du Chien, where the owner can pick them up, he explained.

The Monona Police Department has a similar agreement with Monona Veterinary Hospital.

Securing and transporting the animals can sometimes be difficult, Bogdonovich said.

“It’s tough dealing with animals,” he shared. “They might seem friendly, but you never know.”

For wild animals, both departments often rely on traps to catch troublesome creatures.

“A lot of times, it’s a raccoon or opossum getting into someone’s garbage, so we try to relocate them,” Bogdonovich said.

If the police can’t handle an animal, they will call the DNR, he mentioned.

“If we can remove them safely, we will relocate them,” Amsden agreed. “But if they’re acting funny or sick, we have to dispose of them.”

Amsden admitted catching animals can sometimes be comical. She recalled an officer recently trying to use a snare pole to wrangle a raccoon that had snuck beneath the squad car. The raccoon emerged near the passenger-side back door, with it’s front paws together, as if in prayer.

“He looked like, ‘Oh, forgive me for my sins,’” she quipped.

Coincidentally, the “arrest” took place near a church.

Another time, Amsden said she was called to the Butterfly Garden, where she had to fish a squirrel out of the port-a-potty.

“We’re going to win America’s Funniest Home Videos one of these times trying to catch a skunk,” she commented.

Amsden said property owners can cut down on animal-related incidents in several ways, first by refusing to feed stray cats and other critters. She also advised against befriending animals.

“Kids think baby raccoons are cute, but you shouldn’t pick them up and play with them,” she said.

As for skunks, Amsden said people should clean up the areas beneath decks because skunks will try to make their dens under clutter.

Bogdonovich cautioned it’s important for people to contact the police rather than deal with the situation themselves.

“Contact us and we’ll explain the ordinances,” he said. “They might think they’re doing the right thing, but they’re in violation of an ordinance.”

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