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Rascal raccoons wreak havoc in suburbia

Published: 27 Oct 2012 18:25 GMT+02:00

Sociable, fearless, adaptable and with a sweet tooth: hordes of rascal raccoons are entering the German suburbs in search of food, conservationists said on Saturday.

Introduced to Germany in Hesse in the 1930s, the non-native animal rapidly settled in, made itself at home and is now regularly spotted up and down the country.

An estimated 500,000 of the vexing vermin are currently thought to be living in Germany - 400 raccoon families are thought to be living in Berlin alone - and with city populations growing at an alarming rate, they could soon become a fixed feature of the urban landscape.

“We'll have to reckon with more raccoons in towns in future,” said Magnus Wessel, head of the conservation department at Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND).

Believed to seek out human dwellings both for safety from predators and for the abundant food, the omnivores have even been known to enter houses in search of a quick snack.

One animal, no longer content to be hand fed at the front door, burst into a living room in Trippstadt near Kaiserslautern. “The raccoon came through the cat flap and ate the crisps on the living room table,” said Günther Klein of the Rhineland-Palatinate hunting association.

In a separate incident, a couple in Spessart, Hesse, got a nasty shock when they came home from holiday to find a raccoon relaxing on their sofa – surrounded by carnage.

"He had [ripped up] all the upholstery and laid waste to the house,” said Klaus Röther. The animal is thought to have come down the chimney, he added.

Raccoons have also been raiding German cornfields and orchards, according to the report. Famous for their sweet tooth, they are particularly partial to plums, apples and cherries.

Some hunters even put down chocolates to attract and catch the pests, said Bernd Moeller, of the Brandenburg hunting association.

But although hunters are fighting to keep populations under control, they admit the raccoons are here for good.

“The raccoon has established itself in Germany, it has to be accepted,” said Daniel Hoffmann of the German Hunting Federation (DJV).

DAPD/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

20:26 October 27, 2012 by marimay
We have racoons in suburban and urban areas here in CA and they are not a problem. Just adorable. We have squirrels as well, but we don't try to kill off all living things either... If a raccoon can get into your house, somethings wrong with your house.
20:34 October 27, 2012 by raandy
We have racoons where I lived also. You have to secure your trash, and your bird feeder is most likely going to be trashed.They get into fights and make a very loud screeching sound, unnerving. They can in urban areas be very destructive.
08:20 October 28, 2012 by Enough
Nothing like having a full grown coon jump out at you from a garbage can. I can tell you, from personnel expierence it was not fun and I'm glad I was younger at the time and didn't have a heart attack. Coons are also vectors for rabies. They will break into houses and squeze into the smallest of holes to make a den. Their urine is horrible and much worse than a spraying cat. Speaking of cats...that's one of their favorite ways of breaking into a house...the cat door.
08:46 October 28, 2012 by pjnt
Good luck with the raccoon problem. They are a serious predator with an uncanny sense of survival. They are fearless and have no problem going, doing and eating anywhere, anything, anytime. They can be very dangerous too.

Yes they are cute. But in a theatrical sense to me. Wolf in sheeps clothing!
23:32 November 2, 2012 by TLC
I had no idea that there was a raccoon problem in Germany and that they were actually introduced to the country in the 1930's.

The only one I ever saw was in the Berlin Zoo in 2001! lol
18:46 November 3, 2012 by Supermog
Whose bright idea was it to introduce the raccoon to Germany? Probably related to the idiot who brought the North American Tree Rat to the UK, and the rabbit and bramble to Australia, not to mention the starling to the USA. Environmental sabotage on a massive scale.
13:13 November 10, 2012 by ErnestPayne
Try getting a species into your country for scientific research. Impossible. Getting a species into a country as a pet? Easily done. Witness the problem with pythons, walking catfish, etc., in Florida.
16:53 November 22, 2012 by LaserGuy
I shoot every stinking raccoon that shows up in one of my traps. They are incredibly destructive, and carry a parasite in their feces that will 'lay you out'. They will rip a hole in the side of your house to gain entrance, and continue to rip out insulation until you get rid of them. Anyone that "hand feeds" these vermin at the door is a idiot, just asking for trouble. If you can't shoot them, then a bow and arrow works quite well, even a knife on a long stick used as a spear. Kill them off now, or face the destructive consequences. Raccoons are NOT the fun little creatures depicted in Disney films. In a built up area, the only good raccoon is a dead raccoon
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