It’s breeding season for raccoons, a non-native species to these parts, and they can be dangerous. (Black Press file photo)

It’s breeding season for raccoons, a non-native species to these parts, and they can be dangerous. (Black Press file photo)

Be wary of raccoons

It’s breeding season for raccoons, a non-native species to these parts, and they can be dangerous

They may look cute, but raccoons can be a nasty beast.

And, right now, it’s breeding season for raccoons, making for busy times for Pete Wise, owner/operator of Wise Wildlife Control Services.

“I’ve trapped more than 20 in the last month,” said Wise.

The call to Wise about raccoons was prompted by a Vernon woman who called The Morning Star to say she had been live-trapping raccoons at her city property but somebody was springing the traps, allowing the creatures to roam free.

It’s against the law to be trapping raccons, said Wise, but also inhumane and unethical to trap them and take them somewhere else to release them.

“It’s the ‘Lassie Come Home’ syndrome,” said Wise. “You can humanely trap them and set them free in another area, but they’ll come back.

“Raccoons do not live in the wild in these parts. They’ve adapted to living in the confines of the city. They eat food left out for pets, or from bird feedings. Once they find a good food source, they’ll keep going to it.

“It’s unethical to release them in the woods, in the deep snow. You’re just giving the raccoons to somebody else.”

Not native to these parts, the raccoons are what Wise calls an alien introduced species. And they are savage.

“One grabbed me and tore up my hand,” said Wise. “They’re dangerous around small animals. They’ll kill a house cat or a small dog.”

Raccoon scat, or poop, may also contain roundworm, which can infect peope as well as a variety of other animals, including dogs. The roundworm is transferrable to humans, though rare, according to the Centre for Disease Control. But if the roundworm does get into the human system, it can chew up the optic nerve, resulting in blindness after only a day or two, and if it gets to the brain, it can be fatal.

“Once it’s in your system, it’s always there,” said Wise.

The best way to deal with a raccoon is to call a professional service.

“We have all the permits; we carry all the liability insurance,” said Wise, who added he has the ability to charge an individual with interference if he catches somebody springing live traps.