Trapper gets unusual catch: Junior high student catches golden blond raccoon
Young trapper Eric Nagy was amazed when he checked a live trap Easter Sunday morning on his papaw's farm, located west of Linton about two miles from Greene-Sullivan State Forest.
Inside the trap, the 14-year-old Linton-Stockton Junior High School seventh-grade student saw something that he wasn't quite sure what it was.
In fact, he nor his papaw Greg Lacy had ever seen such a critter.
It is about the size of a raccoon, but isn't the right color.
This animal has a coat that is golden blond in coloration.
It has the same body shape and paw configuration as a raccoon.
The hissing and very agitated animal doesn't have any visible rings on its tail and there is no dark "bandit's mask," which has enhanced the raccoon's reputation for mischief, vandalism, and thievery.
Perhaps its most unusual feature is its eye coloration of bright neon green -- when the sun strikes them in the right alignment. Other times they are purplish red.
Ironically, the live trap was baited with orange-colored peanut butter crackers.
"He (Eric) didn't know what it was. He was tickled to death," Eric's papaw recalled. "I hadn't seen anything like it in my life."
When Lacy first looked at the animal, he thought it was an opossum.
Lacy said he's showed the catch to several experienced trappers, and none of them had seen anything like it.
He also talked to officials with the Indiana Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trying to find out if the animal is a raccoon and how rare it really is.
DNR Conservation Officer Mike Gregg talked with Lacy about the animal, but believes it might be a variation of an albino raccoon.
"It's just a color phase. Sometimes there are albinism there could be a color one that just got off color," Gregg said. "It's probably actually an albino and the color of it might just be because they are coming out from denning. It might just be from being in the den (over the winter months)."
Gregg noted that even an albino raccoon is rare.
"Usually they don't survive long because with their color they get picked off by things," he added.
Lacy was told by a Fish and Wildlife official that it is very rare to find a raccoon of this color -- maybe 1 in 100,000 raccoons.
The unusual raccoon will probably meet a fateful demise very soon unless someone is found who would be interested in placing it in a zoo-like facility, Lacy said Wednesday.
"I'll probably have it for another day or two and then I'm going to have to get rid of it," Lacy added.
The Greene County man has contacted an official with the Indianapolis Zoo thinking it might be nice to donate it there so "kids could see it."
But after he explained what kind of animal he had trapped, he was told they probably wouldn't be interested.
"They said they were full up and didn't have room," Lacy said with a perplexed laugh. "I told the lady this is a rare coon. It's not a black and white with gray coon."
The doubting zoo woman said, "I've never heard of such a thing."
He replied to her, "I've got one."
Lacy, who lives near the intersection of County Road 150N and County Road 1375W, said he's been trapping the coons on his farm since last year. The pesky animals were regularly munching on his ground swine feed, which is pretty expensive in these days of $5-plus per bushel corn.
A 100-pound bag of feed costs Lacy $10 or $11 dollars.
"Them things (the raccoons) are aggravating you know," Lacy said. "They have been just moving in on me.
"Last year they (the raccoons) started moving in on our hog feed. They'd be in the hog feeders. You go out there at night and there would be feed strung out of the feeders. I went out there one night and there are 12 holes in a hog feeder and there was a coon in every feeder hole. They were in there eating that feed. They can eat a lot of feed and feed is expensive right now with $5.50 per bushel corn."
Looking into the wire cage that contained the unusual catch, Lacy said with a big laugh, "It is pretty for a coon. I'll have to say that."