Almost anything has become fair game in the cross-river rivalry between the cities of Maumee in Lucas County and Perrysburg in Wood County.
The fray endures, whether it s the opposing high school s mascot, wooing away new businesses, or painting the old bridge pillars in the Maumee River that serve as the border between the two spirited rivals.
But is game fair game? It is to a Maumee man, sort of, but state wildlife officials aren t too happy.
Richard Green, 81, said he traps raccoons in his backyard on River Road in Maumee, then drives the varmints across the bridge into Perrysburg and releases them.
Mr. Green said he has trapped and released 19 raccoons over the last six weeks, including 16 in the last 17 days.
They ll love this over there when they hear it, the Maumee man chuckled.
Another obvious prank in a long-lasting border feud, right? A response to the Perrysburg High School teacher who waved a dead black cat from the biology lab at a football pep rally a few years ago to signify his thoughts about the Maumee Panthers chances on the gridiron?
Not according to Mr. Green.
While he acknowledges the sometimes Hatfield-McCoy feel of the relationship between the cities, Mr. Green said he drives the raccoons across the river only to make sure they don t come back to his yard. For identification purposes, he applies some red spray paint not Maumee Panther purple or gold before he releases the raccoons in black-and-gold Jackets country.
None of the raccoons I ve caught have had the paint on them, so it must be a different one each time, Mr. Green said. They ve become a nuisance, frankly, and I thought by catching them and taking them over the river, I d be keeping them from coming back.
While he understands that raccoons can be a nuisance, Kevin Newsome, an Ohio wildlife officer assigned to Lucas County, said yesterday that what Mr. Green is doing is illegal.
Mr. Newsome said state law requires anyone who traps a raccoon to either have it euthanized or quarantined for 30 days. Mr. Green s relocation activities are considered fourth-degree misdemeanors under Ohio law, punishable by a maximum $250 fine and 30 days in jail, he said.
There is a bit of a catch in the law: only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may quarantine raccoons because the state is concerned with the spread of rabies and other diseases. However, Mr. Newsome said Lucas County s lone rehabilitator, Nature s Nursery, has stopped keeping the often nocturnal omnivores on its property.
Mr. Green points out that no raccoons are harmed in the making of his raccoon-free backyard. He uses peanut butter as bait for a trap, which closes over the animal once it goes for the tasty treat.
I ve never hurt any of them, Mr. Green said. The trap is very humane.
By sparing the critters any pain (and their lives), Mr. Green said he is solving a problem and appeasing animal activists everywhere. He s also making Perrysburg officials uncomfortable, though none has so far seen or heard any reports of red raccoons rummaging through garbage cans in their neighborhoods.
I ve heard crazier things but this is great, just great, Perrysburg animal control officer Jeff Studer said sarcastically. I haven t seen them yet, but I ll sure be keeping an eye out for them now.
Perrysburg Mayor Nelson Evans, a 1972 Perrysburg High graduate, laughed when he heard about Mr. Green s daily deliveries. While rivals on the athletic battlefield, the two neighboring cities do share the costs for an annual Independence Day fireworks display.
If that s his way of keeping alive the Maumee-Perrysburg rivalry, it s unique, Mr. Evans said.
But the mayor s comments left one to wonder if the Yellow Jacket partisan wasn t stung by the Maumee man s choice for a raccoon dumping ground.
There won t be any retaliation from the mayor s office, at least not at this stage, he said.
If Maumee Mayor Tim Wagener opens his office door next week and is greeted by some skunks, he may have a pretty good idea where they came from.
Contact Joe Vardon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-410-5055.