Wild Raccoons

July 15, 2013

As you might imagine, my email box these days is full of comments and suggestions about the disastrous Community Plan that Vancouver City planners are trying to foist on us.  However, for the last few days, the majority of my emails have been about aggressive raccoons.


The first note I received described a boy’s encounter:

“when he moved towards the back door he found 2 large and 2 slightly smaller raccoons blocking his way. one became very aggressive, “growling and snarling” at him. They were not alarmed when he picked up a rake and swung it or at his yelling and waving his arms … it took him well over a half hour and a walk around the block before they “allowed”him to enter our house.

I circulated the email to a number of neighbourhood groups for advice and got a lot of news back.

The first piece of advice was that residents should call 1-877-952-7277 to report “dangerous urban wildlife,”  and everyone agreed that feeding the raccoons was a bad idea. Others mentioned that the adults were probably just protecting their offspring which were out of sight. And someone else reminded us all that

“raccoons are protected under the Wildlife Act. It is illegal to trap or kill them without a licence.”  However, “they have opposable digits on their paws and can use them to open things. They can also use them to grab and hang on to your leg and chew.”

One interesting suggestion as to why the raccoons are apparently becoming more aggressive:

“I have been wondering if our urban coon population may be going through tough times as the green bin program has taken effect. There’s more food waste out, but it’s in bins that don’t open, instead of garbage cans they can more easily tip. I wondered this because a month or so ago our garbage can – which now has next to nothing in it, but probably some smelly wrappers – got tipped every single night for several weeks in a row. It made me wonder if they’re having to hunt farther and wider, with less luck, for their usual urban foraging. And if they’re a bit hungrier than usual, they could be a bit more aggressive and territorial.”

I have no idea what is causing this rash of aggressive sightings, but I am fascinated that so many people in the neighbourhood are witnessing the same phenomenon.  We have a few coons on my street, but they seem happy enough to scuttle away when I get near.  I really like seeing them, but perhaps I have just been lucky.