PARKERSBURG — For Sharon Kay Carper, her relationship with three generations of a raccoon family began with a chance encounter at home.
Carper, a native of Roane County, said her experience with Alice, Reagan and Baby were the basis for “Alice and the Munchkins,” a book she authored that was recently published in Spotlight West Virginia, an arts and culture magazine, along with several pictures she took of the raccoons.
Carper said Alice first came to her three years ago as she was sitting in her yard during a spring day.
“I looked up and this raccoon was coming at me,” she said. “Since she was out in the daylight hours I feared she might have rabies.”
However, it turned out Alice was looking for food so she could nurse her litter of cubs.
Carper said Alice began by eating from a bird feeder. Later, Carper said, she pulled a cooked chicken and other food from her refrigerator to feed Alice.
Carper said she began to add items like large bags of dog food, peanut butter and bread and other kinds of nuts. In time, she said, Alice appeared with two of her cubs, and then three and finally a fourth.
During that time her number of visits for food dropped from four to six a day to two, once in the morning and once in the evening.
Now Carper is visited by Alice, Reagan, who was born in 2012, and Baby, who was born last year.
Carper said the raccoons are comfortable around her and they also get along well with her cat.
“I just love animals; they are so cute,” she said. “I enjoy feeding them.”
Carper said the book she wrote about Alice has bonus stories about the love between animals and humans, “Cooter,” “Red the Fox” and “Joe, Moe and Rocky Robin” along with 82 photos of the raccoons and other subjects.
Cooter was the first raccoon Carper encountered. Several years ago, she said, she was given Cooter, a two-day-old raccoon, by Capt. Tom Wasmer of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources to raise after the mother raccoon had been killed.
Carper said she raised the raccoon like a domesticated pet, but eventually the raccoon left.
She also got close to a fox she spotted at her parents’ home and got to the point where the fox brought its young around her.
Since the book was written, Carper said if has gone beyond the intended audience.
“I wrote this for children,” she said. “Many adults have bought it for them and they have found they enjoy it as well.”
Carper said the book is available on Amazon.com and autographed copies can be bought from Carper for $18 by writing to her at P.O. Box 4146, Parkersburg, WV 26104.