Thursday, September 2, 2010
Fighting Back Against Raccoons
New York City has seen a steady rise in the raccoon population, and community residents and local politicians have had enough. Coun- cilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) introduced legislation last week that would require the city Department of Health to remove a raccoon from a public or private property upon request, regardless of whether the animal has exhibited signs of rabies or other illnesses.
“Raccoons may seem like cute little bandits, but they can be unsanitary, filthy and a big nuisance for New Yorkers,” Crowley said.
Local residents Mary Borzelino, Sherry Ortega, and Carole Aiello agree. They’ve noticed an increase in raccoon sightings that have them fearing for their families’ safety. The three women decided to take action and asked local politicians for help. “Finally, something is being done,”
said Borzelino, who is afraid to go outside to take out the trash because of raccoons.
Ortega said she is sick of raccoons “using the pool as a local watering hole.” She also noted raccoons seem to be fighting with the local cat population.
Aiello first noticed the problem two months ago when nobody would help her remove a raccoon from her backyard. “I panicked because it was during the day,” she said. Calls to Environmental Protection, Pest Control, ASPCA and 311 all resulted in similar answers: take care of it yourself. Finally, with the help of Assemblyman Mike Miller (D- Woodhaven), two police officers helped her capture the raccoon.
Crowley unveiled the new legislation this week at Mafera Park in Ridgewood where she was joined by Assemblyman Miller and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood).
“These raccoons have been a nuisance to our community for years,” said Miller. “They not only frustrate residents but also pose a potential health risk to the neighborhood.” Miller said he sees raccoons by his house frequently.
Nolan had similar experiences. She’s personally sighted seven raccoons on her street. “With the increase number of raccoon sightings, we need to set a policy for effectively dealing with this issue,” she said. Nolan believes if the city and state continue to ignore the problem it will lead to “bed bug two” and become an even bigger issue.
Under the proposed legislation, captured raccoons will be humanely relocated away from residential areas. “Euthanizing is not the answer,” Crowley said.