strange beast pulling out tomato plants

We live in Palos Verdes (suburban Los Angeles) and have some mysterious animal pulling freshly planted, small tomato plants out of the ground at night. It is not eating the plants, but for some reason, pulls them out of the ground and leaves them there.
Being that it is nocturnal, I could guess at an opossum or a raccoon, but I have no idea why it would pull plants. I thought maybe an opossum looking for snails, but it keeps returning and pulling out the same plants about every other night.
We put bird netting over them, but it apparently got under the netting and pulled them out again last night.
Any ideas of what strange beast we have lurking here at night?
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Does it look like the roots have been eaten?
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No, strangely enough -- they just look like they were pulled out and left on the ground. The prints are not clean enough to tell what it is, but they are quite deep in moist soil, so maybe a large raccoon, but why he would selectively pull out plants and leave them there stumps me.
Have you had any success with the various deterrent scents (wolf urine, etc.)?

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You might want to consider installing a motion detecting sprinkler in that area to scare off anything http://www.deepdiscountpondsupply.com/catalog.htm?Iit 3&Ict8
It might also be your neighbors :-)
Pedram
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Sound like the devily deeds of a squirrel. Maybe doing it at sunrise before you get up. They like to pull up newly planted annuals like that. The dummies think they can find an acorn in the fresh dirt. I have to check my beds and fix their damage everyday. I use red or cayenne pepper to detour them. Elaine

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Sometimes I think they bury the acorns and forget where they buried them. They see someone digging around, and then think someone found "their" acorn or is perhaps burying another acorn "for them".
I've planted some seeds in the past only to find that the area where I planted the seed ended up dug up. And sure enough, I glance around and see squirrels watching every step I take. They're very curious about people digging holes and they think you're doing something for them.
I ended up placing a couple chopped rose bush branches around certain areas, as well as some orange tree branches, (bigger thorns). That seems to stop them from their digging activities. The small orange tree branches work very too.
They seem to remember things very well and once they stuck they avoid the area like a plague in the immediate future.
--
Jim Carlock
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On Thu, 08 Jun 2006 00:48:19 GMT, "old dirtbeard"

There should be some sort of track. If not place dirt or sand so that there will be a track/foot print left. Take a picture of the print if need be and post a link. You'll get plenty of opinions :)
Raccoons, Opossum and Squirrels all have distinctive tracks.
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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Well, he came back again last night -- pulled out the tomato plants and a bell pepper plant. I saw a muddy paw print and believe it is a raccoon. We bought the chemical animal deterrent (capsicum pepper-based), and spread it around, but that did not deter him in the least.
He also took a bath in our swimming pool, while he was at it (the dirty rat), and muddied it up.
We bought a "scarecrow" motion atctivated water sprayer and put it by the koi pond (he was trying to catch a koi as well), but probably will need to buy another one for the garden.
Wish us luck...if it is the racoon I have seen around, he is a big old guy who "owns" the territory.
doug
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If it was a raccoon he probably had to wash up before dinner.
so sorry. Borrow a have-a-heart cage from your local humane society to catch it and take it in to them. They will take care of it. Elaine
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On Sun, 11 Jun 2006 15:19:53 GMT, "old dirtbeard"

<snip>
If it is a full grown Raccoon they are quite stong/powerful. You will have to keep this in mind for whatever you try. I hate to say it, but trapping/relocation or death is about your only choice :( They can climb any fence and figure out most any device you try to use to thwart them...
If you go the trapping route, don't just move/make it somebody else's problem. Most of us already have enough of our own creatures to deal with ;-)
--
Leon Fisk
Grand Rapids MI/Zone 5b
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