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By Matt Gryta and Harold McNeil

News Staff ReporterS

The rescue today of a raccoon whose head was stuck in a peanut butter jar as it sat at the top of a 30-foot high-voltage pole will likely remain a favorite tale for the Fort Erie, Ont., Fire Department and the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Wendy Trombley of the Fort Erie SPCA said a passerby on Niagara Boulevard near Princess Street in the south end of Fort Erie noticed the animal in its precarious predicament contacted the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for help.

“I don’t know how it ended up the pole,” Trombley said.

SPCA officials first contacted the Canadian Niagara Power Co. for assistance about noon. They agreed to seek permission to shut off power to the pole. Next, Trombley said, the SPCA called the fire department.

Fire Chief Larry Coplen and firefighter Bill Troup drove to the site with a ladder truck and waited about a half-hour before the utility turned off the power.

Troup took SPCA Officer Mark Dixon up in the ladder on the fire truck. Using a control stick, Dixon was successfully able to pluck the racoon from the utility pole, remove the peanut butter jar from its head and release it back into the wild.

“He didn’t like being in the animal trap but he had licked the jar of peanut butter clean,” Coplen said.

After being taken out of the animal trap the SPCA officer released the raccoon ina bushy area near the Niagara River off Niagara Boulevard. The entire rescue operation was completed by about 1 p.m,, Coplen said.

“She’s more than likely a mum, and more than likely has babies in the area. We wanted to make sure she gets back to them,” Trombley said.

“She was very happy to go,” she added.

Rescues involving animals with heads stuck in jars and cans are not uncommon, Trombley said.

“We have had it before. It’s not every day, but it does occur, because people don’t wash their jars in the recycling bin and that becomes very interesting for a racoon. So people need to wash them a little better so that doesn’t happen,” said Trombley.

For Coplen, it was an “unforgettable experience.”

“Just part of our job,” he said.

email: mgryta@buffnews.com and hmcneil@buffnews.com