The Raccoon Revolution

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Photo via FiPS

Sure it’s unpleasant, but we city folk expect things like rodents, subways that smell like urine, and the occasional kamikaze scooter attack. The raccoon revolution that is overthrowing much of Brooklyn is a completely different story. One Park Slope resident told Brownstoner that:

We have raccoons on our deck, in our yard. We saw two of them on our neighbor’s roof. We have heard scratching noises on the top floor of our brownstone…One of them bit and scratched our dog (vet gave her an additional rabies shot and antibiotics.)…They are everywhere, walking down the sidewalks at night.

What’s an upstanding citizen to do about these masked bandits? If you’re expecting the city to step in and clear the critters, don’t hold your breath. The NY Observer notes that:

Residents can call 311, but the city does not remove wildlife unless it’s an immediate threat to human health—i.e. rabid. Simply being a rabies vector species, as raccoons are, isn’t enough. Nor are most exterminators equipped to deal with creatures like raccoons or squirrels, so residents must find a wildlife specialist if they’re serious about removing the beasts.

The New York Department of Environmental Conservation does offer these tips:

• Do not leave pet food outside. Feed pets only as much as they will eat at once, and remove all leftovers. If necessary, place pet feeders in an enclosed area such as a porch, garage, or barn.

• Keep garbage bags in an entry-way or garage, and in a metal can. Run a rubber strap, rope or soft wire through the lid and attach to the can handles. To make it hard for raccoons to remove lids, hang the can one foot above the ground, or use a rack and secure the cans upright.

• Surround gardens with an electric fence made up of two wires attached to an insulated post, one wire four inches and the other eight inches above the ground. Install the fence before vegetables ripen.

• Block the openings raccoons are using to get into your attic, porch or other location. Place a temporary cover when the raccoons leave on their nightly search for food, and make a permanent seal later. To check if the raccoons have really left, sprinkle twigs, grass or flour in the opening and watch for tracks. Caution: do not permanently seal entrances without first verifying that all animals are out of the den. Especially in the spring, look and listen for animal noises.

• Nuisance wildlife control persons licensed by New York State can be hired to deal with problem raccoons. Injured and “orphaned” raccoons should be left alone. Animals actually in need of assistance may be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators. The DEC regional office can refer you to these individuals.

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