Raccoon Problem? After Long Delay, City May Help

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr

We’ve heard quite a bit from residents about raccoon problems, especially around area parks and on streets with large delinquent construction lots. A common complaint? The city ain’t helping.

For the most part, e-mails sounded a lot like this story we received from reader Allan Rosen:

My neighbor found a raccoon in his backyard yesterday.  He bought a trap, captured it and called 311 for them to pick it up.  They referred him to Animal Control, and guess what?  They refused to come over, stating they only come for cats and dogs and other injured animals.  They said that raccoons are indiginous to the area and they would not come as long as the raccoon was healthy.  He had to drive it to Floyd Bennett Field himself and released it there.

Rosen’s friend discovered a city problem shared by many outerborough residents. Even though Mayor Bloomberg and various agencies refer neighbors with raccoon troubles to 311, the city actually has no programs in place to relocate the pests if they’re healthy.

That is, until now. Or rather, soonish.

Queens City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has introduced legislation requiring the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to relocate raccoons in coordination with the Parks Department when requested by a resident.

This is a big shift from how the city currently deals with the problem, which essentially is to not deal with the problem. Brooklyn Eagle explains:

At the present time, “the Health Department’s involvement with raccoons pertains to the surveillance and prevention of rabies,” according to a statement e-mailed by the department. While the department contracts with Animal Care and Control “to capture any raccoon that is sick, injured or that has bitten or scratched a person so rabies testing can begin.”
However, the statement adds that raccoons are considered wildlife, and residents wishing to remove “nuisance raccoons” have to hire a licensed trapper on their own.

If you’ve got raccoons in your yard, start reporting it to 311 and your local councilmember. Knowing that there’s a problem in their district might make this bill move along a little faster.

Until then, here are some tips [pdf] from what may be the city’s most poorly-designed, seizure-inducing pamphlet issued by the Department of Health on how to keep raccoons out of your home.