The issue of raccoon overpopulation has a strange history, dating back to the s. Germans in particular were importing raccoons from America to populate fur farms. But the Germans also decided to release some of them because hunters were bored of local animals. Then a stray bomb during World War II hit a fur farm, allowing about two dozen more raccoons to make homes for themselves in the German forests. That was plenty: Now, according to the German magazine Der Spiegel , there are as many as a million of the furry critters pillaging across Germany.
Their hunger for eggs is putting a dent in populations of native birds and even turtles. They make a mess of vineyards and attics, they cause car accidents , and they carry diseases. To fight back, Germans are currently killing more than 60, raccoons a year one important weapon is chocolate-baited traps.
More raccoons were brought to Europe from Asia in the s , also originally for fur-farming. In the last several years, they've been spotted in the wild all over the continent, not just in Germany. In , researchers studying the raccoon population in Spain called for "urgent actions A raccoon spotted in Scotland this spring prompted a flurry of concern. Since the s, raccoons have expanded their range from Vancouver Island —formerly the northernmost limit of their range—far into the northern portions of the four south-central Canadian provinces.
As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the midth century, the raccoon is now distributed in several European and Asian countries. Sightings have occurred in all the countries bordering Germany, which hosts the largest population outside of North America. In , the city authorized "the capture and death of any specimen". About 1, animals were released in nine regions of the former Soviet Union between and for the purpose of establishing a population to be hunted for their fur.
Two of these introductions were successful—one in the south of Belarus between and , and another in Azerbaijan between and The raccoon is extensively hunted in Germany as they are seen as an invasive species and pests. Experiments in acclimatising raccoons into the USSR began in , and were repeated a further 25 times until Overall, 1, individuals were released, 64 of which came from zoos and fur farms 38 of them having been imports from western Europe.
Wild Raccoon Moves Into German Zoo and Keepers Can't Evict Him | Inside Edition
The remainder originated from a population previously established in Transcaucasia. The range of Soviet raccoons was never single or continuous, as they were often introduced to different locations far from each other. All introductions into the Russian Far East failed; melanistic raccoons were released on Petrov Island near Vladivostok and some areas of southern Primorsky Krai , but died. In Middle Asia , raccoons were released in Kyrgyzstan 's Jalal-Abad Province , though they were later recorded as "practically absent" there in January A large and stable raccoon population yielding — catches a year was established in Azerbaijan after an introduction to the area in Raccoons apparently survived an introduction near Terek , along the Sulak River into the Dagestani lowlands.
Attempts to settle raccoons on the Kuban River 's left tributary and Kabardino-Balkaria were unsuccessful. A successful acclimatization occurred in Belarus , where three introductions consisting of 52, 37 and 38 individuals in and took place.
The genetic structure of raccoon introduced in Central Europe reflects multiple invasion pathways
By January 1, , individuals were recorded in the country. Due to its adaptability, the raccoon has been able to use urban areas as a habitat. The first sightings were recorded in a suburb of Cincinnati in the s. Since the s, raccoons have been present in metropolitan areas like Washington, DC , Chicago , and Toronto.
Raccoons can carry rabies , a lethal disease caused by the neurotropic rabies virus carried in the saliva and transmitted by bites. Its spread began in Florida and Georgia in the s and was facilitated by the introduction of infected individuals to Virginia and North Dakota in the late s.
Department of Agriculture , as well as local authorities in several U. Forest Service encourage people to stay away from animals with unusual behavior or appearance, and to notify the proper authorities, such as an animal control officer from the local health department. Unlike rabies and at least a dozen other pathogens carried by raccoons, distemper , an epizootic virus, does not affect humans.
Some of the most important bacterial diseases which affect raccoons are leptospirosis , listeriosis , tetanus , and tularemia. Although internal parasites weaken their immune systems , well-fed individuals can carry a great many roundworms in their digestive tracts without showing symptoms.
While not endemic, the worm Trichinella does infect raccoons,  and undercooked raccoon meat has caused trichinosis in humans. Trematode Metorchis conjunctus can also infect raccoons. The increasing number of raccoons in urban areas has resulted in diverse reactions in humans, ranging from outrage at their presence to deliberate feeding. While overturned waste containers and raided fruit trees are just a nuisance to homeowners, it can cost several thousand dollars to repair damage caused by the use of attic space as dens.
These methods usually only solve problems with particularly wild or aggressive individuals, since adequate dens are either known to several raccoons or will quickly be rediscovered. Among all fruits and crops cultivated in agricultural areas, sweet corn in its milk stage is particularly popular among raccoons.
Since raccoons in high mortality areas have a higher rate of reproduction, extensive hunting may not solve problems with raccoon populations. Older males also claim larger home ranges than younger ones, resulting in a lower population density. In the mythology of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, the raccoon is the subject of folk tales. The raccoon also appears in Native American art across a wide geographic range. The meaning and significance of the Raccoon Priests Gorget , which features a stylized carving of a raccoon and was found at the Spiro Mounds , Oklahoma, remains unknown.
In Western culture, several autobiographical novels about living with a raccoon have been written, mostly for children. In recent years, anthropomorphic raccoons played main roles in the animated television series The Raccoons , the computer-animated film Over the Hedge , the live action film Guardians of the Galaxy and the comics that it was based upon and the video game series Sly Cooper.
The fur of raccoons is used for clothing, especially for coats and coonskin caps. At present, it is the material used for the inaccurately named "sealskin" cap worn by the Royal Fusiliers of Great Britain. Such sporrans may or may not be of the "full-mask" type. Since the late 18th century, various types of scent hounds , called " coonhounds ", which are able to tree animals have been bred in the United States. In the s, wearing a raccoon coat was regarded as status symbol among college students. While primarily hunted for their fur, raccoons were also a source of food for Native Americans and early American settlers.
Raccoons are sometimes kept as pets , which is discouraged by many experts because the raccoon is not a domesticated species. Raccoons may act unpredictably and aggressively and it is extremely difficult to teach them to obey commands. Their propensity for unruly behavior exceeds that of captive skunks , and they are even less trustworthy when allowed to roam freely. Because of their intelligence and nimble forelimbs, even inexperienced raccoons are easily capable of unscrewing jars, uncorking bottles and opening door latches, with more experienced specimens having been recorded to open door knobs.
When orphaned, it is possible for kits to be rehabilitated and reintroduced to the wild. However, it is uncertain whether they readapt well to life in the wild. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other species called raccoon in the genus Procyon, see Procyon genus. For other uses, see Raccoon disambiguation. Conservation status.
Full list of the EU’s banned invasive species
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Nazi Raccoons on the March in Europe
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- Watch: Rare sighting of raccoon in downtown Zurich - The Local.
- "raccoon" translation into German.
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- Wild raccoon moves into German zoo; keepers can’t expel it.
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Seattle Post-Intelligencer. August 23, October 31, San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved November 1, Staff at Heidelberg Zoo were surprised to discover a wild raccoon had moved into the raccoon enclosure stock image. The raccoon can now expect to a live comfortably alongside the captive raccoons for the rest of his life.
The EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species forbids wild animals from being released back into the wild after life in captivity. The wild creature, nicknamed him Fred, can expect to live 'the good life' from now on as EU law forbids him from being released back into the wild stock image. Despite upgrading to a life of luxury, Fred will unlikely produce any offspring with potential mates at the zoo.
Raccoons are considered an invasive alien species that may pose a threat to European plants and animals under rule. Wild raccoons in Europe are the descendants of animals that escaped from fur farms decades ago. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. A wild raccoon has moved into a zoo - and keepers can't kick him out. Share this article Share.
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