Last week during the OCAA Day of Service at Camp Woodeden, a raccoon family was found in an ash tree. The ash tree was dead, having succumbed to the emerald ash borer (EAB). It was hollow in the middle, having rotted out due to the insects’ voracious ravages. Deadly for the ash tree, but perfect for a mother raccoon to create a home to raise her horde of babies in.
Dangers at Camp Woodeden
While the incident proved to be a great photo opportunity (who doesn’t love babies!), it was also the most dangerous job of the day. The tree was located in between Camp Woodeden’s basketball court and their fire pit. An area which just happens to be used on a nightly basis. If left, the tree would have rained down dead branches upon passing campers, but also served as a threat to the surrounding area as a whole.
The danger to the wheelchair-bound campers was obvious, but there was also danger involved for the crews that worked on the 100+ year-old tree. Due to the nature of the EAB’s attack, ash trees become extremely brittle once infected. Essentially they are eaten from the inside out, leaving the tree vulnerable to other insect attacks and infestations. Plus, the tree is then unable to withstand even the merest gust of wind from Mother Nature herself.
Dangers of the EAB
For the crew that works on the infected tree, the problem becomes that of how to get near enough to the tree to remove it without it literally falling apart around them. Normally, when a tree services company comes in to prune or remove a tree, they usually climb up into it. When you are dealing with a tree that has the potential to fall apart under any kind of pressure, climbing the tree is NOT an option. Not only do you not want to injure the crew in or below said tree, but you also don’t want to damage any property in the vicinity.
In the scenario at Woodeden, there were several concerns. First off, the tree itself was not safe to climb. A bucket truck hoisted Calvin close enough to the tree, so he could safely work on it.
Animal Dangers on the Job
The next problem came when he started cutting the tree down in sections—only to find an angry mama raccoon inside the trunk! While Calvin is a brave guy, we didn’t need to add withstanding animal attacks into his job description. Thankfully mama growled menacingly for only a minute, before skedaddling. Her young pups were left behind. That meant that Cal could add animal rescuer to his list of feats accomplished that day. He scooped the scared babies into a bag and removed them from the tree to continue trimming the dangerous ash.
Don’t go thinking that the CLC crew are a bunch of home-wreckers though. We did cut down a good chunk of the offending ash, but left enough standing to allow the raccoon family to safely move back in again. After cutting the tree to a safe height, Calvin carefully placed the raccoon babies into the top of the hollow ash. No errant branches were left to clutter pathways or fall onto surrounding buildings or people.
Another successful day on the job for the men at CLC Tree Services. And happy campers all around, from the crew who worked on the tree, to the raccoon family, to the campers, counsellors and Directors of Camp Woodeden.
Danger met and vanquished!