Sec. 486 M.P.C.

I saw a sign today that made me want to run home to the internet and do a search. It was in regards to Sec. 486 M.P.C. A law which forbids the feeding of wildlife in San Francisco. This sign listed some of the wildlife and I realized that I have been in violation of this law many time, but luckily I haven’t in the past 10 years so I think I’m past the statue of limitations.

I used to love many years ago to go to the arboretum and sit on a bench and wait until the squirrels would run up my legs for me to hand them a peanut [hint, they prefer walnuts]. I love my time as a teenager when the raccoons would walk up to me in my back yard and take an egg from my hand. I was not one to ever feed pigeons, though there were a couple of times when a friendly one would walk up and i’d toss a bit of something to them. Seagulls are definitely off my list as they are food thieves and don’t need to be fed ever. I have tossed some old bread to the ducks at Stowe Lake though.

At the zoo, when I was a kid they used to sell mackerel bits to toss to the seals, but I suppose that didn’t fall under Sec. 486 M.P.C. then or there was some kind of special dispensation. I know that feeding squirrels isn’t really that good for them, but in a way it disappoints me as I will not have the chance to take my daughter to Japanese Tea Garden or Arboretum and show her how much fun it is when a squirrel takes a nut from your hand. I’m not sure I’d want to help her feed a raccoon as they can turn on you sometimes and there is always that rabies thing you have to think of.

I guess the goats and sheep at the zoo are considered domestic animals since they sell alfalfa pellets for them that you can purchase for 50¢ and feed to them. My daughter enjoys this a lot so I guess that’ll have to do. I definitely will add skunks to the menu of animals not to fee, though I admit I have done that before in San Francisco as well as the odd possum I’ve seen. While I’ve encounter a couple of coyote’s in San Francisco, I’ve never fed one preferring to stay safely in my car. I have fed old bread to the Buffalos in the park way back when they could  walk up to the fence, but those days have passed. I even remember back to the days as a kid when they sold zoo chow at the zoo and I would be throwing the pellets at the bears who would lean back and hold up their hind legs to get you to perform for them so they could get the treats.

I guess the times are a changing when the department of public works posts a phone number you can call to report offenders. I wonder now what the fine is for feeding a nut to a squirrel?

Does A Raccoon Sh*t At The Zoo?

Friday was all about the lack of seagulls so it seems fitting to talk about raccoons today. We made a trip to the zoo over the weekend and while we didn’t see any raccoons, not even in cages there was evidence of them everywhere in the zoo by the small piles of raccoon crap that was everywhere.

How do I know it came from a raccoon? They’re everywhere in San Francisco, I’ve even seen them at night in the financial district. I’ve had a family of them living in my backyard that I used to feed sometimes when they’d come out in the evenings. I know feeding raccoons isn’t the smartest thing to do, but because I’ve been around a lot of them I know what their feces look like. Some of you might remember my article on the horrid sounds of raccoon sex I had written before.

Now when I said they were everywhere at the zoo, I mean everywhere once you’ve given up your ticket and gotten in. I’m actually oddly surprised that no one’s written about this before because unless you know what you’re looking at you may not notice which was obvious by all the flattened patties as we were walking around the zoo.

Actually, the children’s playground was pretty clean as is the entrance where you buy your tickets so the SF Zoo must know that there is tons of raccoon crap since raccoons don’t have any fear of sand or children’s play toys. On the other hand feral cats would use the sand in the area like a giant litter box. I know this because I had a sandbox in my backyard when I was a kid and ended up having to change it over to a large planter box because the cats were using it as a litter box. But I digress…

Walking the zoo you have to be especially careful when walking from the sea lion exhibit to the kangaroo and wallaby exhibits. The reason is that the trees planted there drop acorns that help to disguise the raccoon poop making it harder to avoid stepping in it. I actually saw a little kid trip and fall and luckily didn’t face plant into a steaming pile, but his hand did hit it giving him some lubrication to his fall and boom — face plant. His parents were more concerned at first with the raccoon crap all over their son than whether or not he had actually gotten hurt. Luckily we had some wet ones they were giving out free at the children’s zoo, so I came to their rescue and told them what it was. I’m sure the zoo officials got an earful on their way out, especially after I told them that it’s all over the place and you have to watch out for it.

So does a raccoon sh*t at the zoo? Yes and they do it everywhere.

Now on to the sea gulls. You’ll find plenty of them at the zoo and they are like a mafia crime family. All the food areas at the zoo need to have some notice about this as I see someone get hit every time. My daughter dropped a bagel and bang, there was sea gull casually walking up to it and didn’t even back away when i picked it up. I tore a piece off after I gave the bagel back to my daughter and the sea gull walked casually along with us as we started our walk. I suppose he was not yet a made man in the sea gull mafia family yet so he had to play it cool.

Eventually I tossed him his crumb so he got his vig and walked off. This was one of the nice encounters with a sea gull at the zoo. My wife once ordered a burger and didn’t hold it in close to her body and once again, bang the sea gull took it right out of her hand. Incidentally, if this happens to you don’t bother going back and telling the people that you were just attacked by a sea gull as they will just tell you that you should have been more careful. I can see it happen before it does and it’s usually the people with food on trays who like to hold the tray out in front of them or hold their food up around shoulder height. Why they do this, I don’t know, but the zoo should have some signs warning them like the sign warning people of flying gorilla poop when you’re leaning over the fence staring at the gorillas.

Don’t leave any open food out at the zoo because a sea gull will swoop down for a quick smash and grab. The sea gull mafia is ruthless and I have even seen them fly into the middle of a group of people at a table and steal food. I think the lesser squirrel mafia of the zoo is in cahoots with the sea gulls as I saw a family who left their cart outside the petting zoo with an open bag of chips come out to find the squirrels had swarmed into the open bag and were running off with the contents.

So in short, Zoo, food, sea gulls, squirrels, watch your back.


Recology needs to step it up

GARBAGE! The tainted word on the street. My mother always told me that if I didn’t get good grades I would end up as a garbage collector. As it turns out the garbage collectors make a better wage than I was making with my college degree for some years. Now I have to admit that with technology’s evolution garbage collection has gotten much better and our streets are cleaner, so I’m not going to totally blame Recology who collects our garbage problem, but they are a part of it.

In my unemployed times I spent my mornings at home getting up early and pretty much doing nothing in the mornings except look for work on craigslist. Come garbage collection day I would hear the trucks come by and the guy would haul the bins to the truck that would pick them up and dump their contents into the garbage or recycle areas where they would be crushed down a bit.

These were still open areas and just as we all know when you stomp down your garbage to fit more in it expands back a bit afterwards. The problem with this is as the trucks pick up speed some of the garbage blows out the side of the bins back onto the street. San Francisco being the windy city that it is causes the garbage to be blown back across our lawns, houses, sometimes into our entryways.  Just yesterday I pulled a receipt out of my entryway that turns out came from cafe out in the Mission. After that I picked up the lid and straw from a McDonald’s cup that the closest one was a couple miles away.

This isn’t discards from people driving by, but they come from one of two places: Recology trucks that let some of their garbage fly off or from recycle raccoons. The second are the people that at night when you put out your bins go through them to find anything of value to take and sell back at the local recycle areas in the neighborhood. Maybe that lid from McDonald’s came out of our bin from our last trip there, but we didn’t throw it on our lawn, the recycle raccoons who go through our bins, some of which I’ve seen stop and wait for you to bring your bins out and even say thank you before raiding your bins have forgotten to put back.

These people are essentially stealing money from the city by foraging in your waste bins for aluminum and glass. They’ll pull out the bags of recycling you’ve deposited and go through them to find what they need and the nice ones put back what they don’t. Some on the other hand leave the bags outside to move on quickly, or just give it a toss back without bothering to pick up what falls out.

These tend to be elderly citizens looking to make an extra buck and I don’t necessarily blame them for looking to make an extra buck, but they need to either understand that their presence is making our neighborhoods look ugly or Recology needs to find a way to keep them from raiding the bins. PG&E has a system that if you have a gate on the front of your house that the meter readers have a key to get in to read the meters, so perhaps Recology could create locked bins that the collectors would have to unlock before dumping in the trucks. It would also be nice if the bins were made of a more sturdy trapezoidal shape that would keep them from blowing over in the wind dumping their contents on the street rather than the inverse trapezoid shape  that makes them top heavy and bottom light that doesn’t work with our winds.

I love my neighborhood, but it really burns my ass [thank you Terry Baum for that phrase] some days when I see my neighbors hard work and money invested in making their front yard look nice only to see it littered with paper and twine wrapped around their eco-friendly, low water consumption, San Francisco values plants.


Raccoon Sex…

Well I suspect the title alone will cause all the freaky people who sit up late at night in the dark doing google web searches to come to this site, but after last night I feel I should write something.

While San Francisco is a major metropolitan city it doesn’t mean we don’t have wildlife other than rats and mice. You can find raccoons, skunks, possums and even coyotes within San Francisco. Luckily, I have yet to run into a coyote in my backyard, but raccoons are pretty common in the backyards as they’re a lot more agile. I did notice a skunk once when I went outside to throw some food on the grill thinking, “that’s an odd looking cat” and getting a closer look at the white stripe up its back I walked backwards very slowly until the skunk decided to check out the next yard.

Now raccoons tend to be on the rather friendly side. Either that or they aren’t afraid of people one bit. We used to have an old raccoon that lived in a tree in our backyard. He was blind in one eye and covered in mange and couldn’t compete at night with the others so he’d come out during the day. He was slow and probably had a lot of arthritis so we took pity on him as he would come up to the Indian grinding stones my Mother had in our backyard for water. One day I went outside with an egg and sat on the steps a few feet away and with his one good eye he saw I was holding out something that looked like food. He walked over to me and sheepishly took the egg from my hand and walked over, cracked it on the rock ate the insides and then washed it down with water [raccoons don’t have salivary glands like the rest of us, so they need lots of water to eat]. This continued for a few months until my new little pet would come up and actually sit by me while he ate and let me give him a good look over. He had fleas and ticks real bad. That was obvious and I would be checked every night after feeding him to make sure I hadn’t picked up any ticks.

While being stripped down to your underwear and checked for ticks every night was kind of humiliating, how cool was it to have a pet raccoon that would come up for dinner every night? He started slowing down and his condition came up when we took our dog to the vet one day and our vet had seen an article in the newspaper about our “little friend”. When I told the vet about his condition he mentioned that it would probably be best to have the raccoon put down because it was suffering. We called animal care and control one day when my “pet” was sleeping for what seemed like three hours in our back yard. They came out expecting him to have left, but there he was sleeping on the ground and they just picked him up and put him in a cage and took him away to be put to sleep in a nice warm comfy room. At least it was more warm and comfy than the outdoors in the Sunset district.

So where does the raccoon sex [warning audio not for the faint of heart] come in? Old raccoons are nothing like younger raccoons. They are all over the city even down in the financial district. They’re just very adept at hiding. I usually see them at dusk or after dark. Well, last night I was woken up to a sound I hadn’t heard in a few years. If I had been more awake I would have run for my microphone and recorded the sound because I would have made millions using the sound in a horror movie. There were a couple of raccoons on our back deck having sex.

Raccoon sex is nothing like a human porn movie or even human sexual relations. It sounds more like gladiatorial combat, only with more scratching and hissing. The only thing more horrifying is raccoons fighting. These nice fuzzy creatures aren’t so nice when it comes to sex. It’s worse than the sound of a cat fight and there are no quotes because I’m referring to actually cats, not drunk women at a bar. It’s also something that is extremely loud probably reaching close to the 100db range, but I didn’t have a meter to test the truth in that, but trust me, it was LOUD AND ANGRY. [raccoon sex audio]

Luckily, it only lasts a couple of minutes [no snickering now!] and then they go off along their merry ways. I suppose this was caused by our current warm weather that turned this pair into a couple of cats on a hot tin roof. Now I bet some of you will ask me, how I knew they were having sex and not fighting. I will only say this…

I know of raccoon sex, but of this I can speak no further.