Current Weather
The Spy FM

Nerves Frayed In Toronto Over Roaming Raccoons

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
June 11, 2011

Toronto has a huge population of raccoons — so many, the city is known as the raccoon capital of the world.

Last week, the war between humans and raccoons got out of hand. Toronto resident Dong Nguyen was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and possession of a dangerous weapon for allegedly hitting a baby raccoon in his backyard with a shovel. That has sparked a heated debate about how to control the animals and which urban dwellers’ rights come first.

A few days after Nyugen was led away by police in handcuffs, his neighbors held an anti-raccoon rally. Jack Fava, who lives down the street from Nyugen, says he was outraged by the way Nyugen was treated. He doesn’t condone violence against animals, he says, but he and his neighbors are fed up.

“I’ve been dealing with it since ’98. You know, they’ve done damage in my under crawl where the kitchen is, [the] insulation and vapor barrier,” he says. “I don’t grow any more vegetables. I don’t get to eat them because other animals — raccoons — get to them before I do.”

Fava has spent hundreds of dollars to repair the damage and keep the animals away. He says the city should work harder to control the raccoon population.

“I don’t see why we can’t cull the population down a little bit. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” he says. “We have a cat program here, they spay and neuter. I don’t see why they can’t spay and neuter raccoons.”

Toronto’s policy is to leave raccoons alone. The city encourages homeowners to keep them away by doing things like keeping their trash locked up.

“The idea that we can get rid of them is hilarious to me, because there’s no way,” says behavioral psychologist Suzanne MacDonald.

Raccoons thrive in cities, partly because there’s plenty of food. There are 20 times more urban raccoons in North America than there were 70 years ago. MacDonald says city raccoons are smart, and they’re getting smarter.

“One of the things we’re doing is providing them with bigger and bigger challenges, so you’ve probably seen raccoon-proof garbage cans and all these things to try to keep them from figuring things out,” she says. “But in fact, they always do, so humans are selecting these traits in raccoons and we’re actually shaping an uber-raccoon that is going to be able to compete in an urban environment.”

The bottom line, MacDonald says, is that raccoons are just part of modern urban life. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

5PM to 7PM A Prairie Home Companion

A Prairie Home Companion

Live every Saturday night, A Prairie Home Companion features comedy sketches, music and Garrison Keillor's signature monologue, "The News from Lake Wobegon."

Listen Live Now!

7PM to 8PM Folk Salad

Folk Salad

Folk Salad Hosts Richard Higgs and Scott Aycock play an eclectic mix of Folk, Singer/songwriter, Americana, Bluegrass, Blues, Red Dirt, and anything else we happen to like that week.

View the program guide!

8PM to 9PM For the Sake of the Song

For the Sake of the Song

Greg Johnson, owner of The Blue Door in Oklahoma City gathers the best Red Dirt musicians in the region for his show.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center