Raccoons at Two Harbors problem home have couple seeking relief from the cityFor more than a year now, Koss and her partner, Mike Ulanowski, have dealt with raccoons in the neighborhood. They rummage through the garbage and spend time on the family’s back porch. The final straw for Koss was when one of the raccoons approached her 6-year-old son while she walked him out to the school bus.
By: Brittany Berrens, Lake County News-Chronicle
Ever since Meghan Koss and her family moved into their Ninth Avenue home in 2007 in Two Harbors, they have been dealing with a problem property next door. The yellow, two-story home has always had junk in the yard, which Koss and her family have grown used to. It wasn’t until last spring when the family realized that there were some unwanted neighbors living in the house.
For more than a year now, Koss and her partner, Mike Ulanowski, have dealt with raccoons in the neighborhood. They rummage through the garbage and spend time on the family’s back porch. The final straw for Koss was when one of the raccoons approached her 6-year-old son while she walked him out to the school bus.
“They have no fear,” Koss said.
A search of the Lake County Parcel Information System shows the neighboring property, at 815 Ninth Avenue, is owned by Timothy Phipps. Phipps lives in Duluth and admits that he hasn’t been up to his property in Two Harbors for quite some time.
Court records show that Phipps was charged with having junk cars on his Two Harbors property in January of 2007. This offense is a misdemeanor. Phipps paid the $132 fine without appearing in court. Cars litter the back yard of the property today.
Koss and Ulanowski say they haven’t seen him around the property since once or twice last summer.
Phipps says he’s never been told about a raccoon problem. “Nobody contacted me,” he said. “I guess if you have a complaint you go straight to the city council.”
Phipps said the city has never contacted him about a raccoon problem either. When asked if the city has contacted him about any other issues regarding the property, he said, “I don’t know.”
Phipps said he didn’t see why people should care that there were raccoons in the neighborhood. “It’s not like I have 25, 30 cats in my house,” he said.
The raccoons are a nuisance in general but Koss and Ulanowski are more worried about the neighborhood children and what might happen to them when faced with a fearless raccoon.
“If they aren’t afraid of me, they aren’t going to be afraid of the kids,” Ulanowski said. “It’s only a matter of time before one gets mad and does something.” Ulanowski and Koss have another child younger than the 6-year-old.
The couple has tried to live-trap the raccoons to no avail. The couple says the raccoons are too smart for the traps and are able to steal bait without getting caught. “All we’ve caught were neighborhood cats and skunks,” Ulanowski said.
Strapping their garbage can shut has been unsuccessful as well. Koss said the raccoons are in their garbage almost every night. After trying to deal with the problem on their own, the family turned to the city and police to see if they could get any help.
Last Tuesday, fed up with the raccoons and back from a Monday meeting with the city council to air her concerns, Koss called the police. They could hear a raccoon rummaging around but the police were unable to find it. Later that night, Koss said she watched the raccoon enter the abandoned home through an open window above the front porch.
The police department says it can’t do anything about the raccoons and refers residents with animal problems to Wildlife Services, a federal agency. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources does not deal with animals in residential settings.
Koss said the DNR told her to talk with the city’s animal control person. That person told her to hire an exterminator. The cost of an exterminator wasn’t something the family was ready to spend money on, especially since the raccoons were coming from a house that wasn’t theirs.
The police department says there have been a few reports in recent months of raccoons in other parts of the city.
The couple has also tried dealing with city building inspector Jim Rich about other problems associated with the property. Koss said they tried calling Rich every week for two months about getting the lawn mowed. They finally started mowing it themselves.
Fed up with getting the run-around, Koss said, she showed up at the city council meeting May 23 to let her concerns be known.
“Four years is too long,” she said after telling council members all the trouble her family has had since they’ve moved next door to the home.
Koss and Ulanowski just want the problem dealt with. They can’t afford to move out of their home, so getting Phipps to clean up his property is the only option. “We don’t have a problem with (Phipps) personally,” Koss said. “We just don’t want there to be raccoons living in the house next door.”