Photo by Tambako the Jaguar via Flickr

We’ve heard quite a bit from residents about raccoon problems, especially around area parks and on streets with large delinquent construction lots. A common complaint? The city ain’t helping.

For the most part, e-mails sounded a lot like this story we received from reader Allan Rosen:

My neighbor found a raccoon in his backyard yesterday.  He bought a trap, captured it and called 311 for them to pick it up.  They referred him to Animal Control, and guess what?  They refused to come over, stating they only come for cats and dogs and other injured animals.  They said that raccoons are indiginous to the area and they would not come as long as the raccoon was healthy.  He had to drive it to Floyd Bennett Field himself and released it there.

Rosen’s friend discovered a city problem shared by many outerborough residents. Even though Mayor Bloomberg and various agencies refer neighbors with raccoon troubles to 311, the city actually has no programs in place to relocate the pests if they’re healthy.

That is, until now. Or rather, soonish.

Queens City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley has introduced legislation requiring the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to relocate raccoons in coordination with the Parks Department when requested by a resident.

This is a big shift from how the city currently deals with the problem, which essentially is to not deal with the problem. Brooklyn Eagle explains:

At the present time, “the Health Department’s involvement with raccoons pertains to the surveillance and prevention of rabies,” according to a statement e-mailed by the department. While the department contracts with Animal Care and Control “to capture any raccoon that is sick, injured or that has bitten or scratched a person so rabies testing can begin.”

However, the statement adds that raccoons are considered wildlife, and residents wishing to remove “nuisance raccoons” have to hire a licensed trapper on their own.

If you’ve got raccoons in your yard, start reporting it to 311 and your local councilmember. Knowing that there’s a problem in their district might make this bill move along a little faster.

Until then, here are some tips [pdf] from what may be the city’s most poorly-designed, seizure-inducing pamphlet issued by the Department of Health on how to keep raccoons out of your home.

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  • Randy C

    ok good, maybe i will be able to get the bars i had on my windows off – do they dont come in, i have a roof infront of my bedroom, i woke up one night to my cat, a kitten at the time, growling at the window, i go look and threw the screens [had a second extend-able one in to keep her from pushing out] i see one, they are very cute, but i dont want them in my house. so i put in very tight bars to keep them from pushing in or my cat pushing out to fight or play.

  • nolastname

    They are all over Sheepshead Bay. They are in the sewers looking for food also.
    My neighbors caught a whole family last year and this year 2 adults.

  • nolastname

    They are all over Sheepshead Bay. They are in the sewers looking for food also.
    My neighbors caught a whole family last year and this year 2 adults.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      What did they do afterwards? They are hard to deal with. I would think transporting them would require having the cage chained so it doesn’t fly all over as they go nuts trying to get out.

      • nolastbame

        They had professionals come in, cost quite a bit of cash.
        It is heart wrenching to see the clawing to get out.

        • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

          I know. I once assisted in getting a sick raccoon to a vet. The cage had to be tied down because he was trying to escape WITH the cage. He would have eventually figured out how to open it. They are very smart.

          • Anonymous

            True, some raccoons are smarter than humans.

            Raccoons see danger and they want to run away from it.

            Some humans see danger and try to sugar coat it

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    Terrible piece of work, definitely seizure inducing. But some of the recommendations are helpful.

    Staten Island has always had problems with raccoons. They are indigenous to this area and will attempt to reclaim it if they can.

  • Anonymous

    Should have left it by Mayor Bloomberg’s place…

    Or who ever is in charge of city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene headquarters…

    Or

    The commissioners of the Health Department’s home…

  • Nyhikef50

    I knew right sway that there was something wrong with that picture. As an outdoorsman I noticed that the raccoon in the picture has brown in it. Raccoons in NY State and the city have more gray.

    • http://www.nedberke.com Ned Berke

      It’s from Switzerland. It’s a far more refined raccoon than the brash American kind. It would balk at the idea of eating a wrapper from a Hershey’s bar, preferring nothing less than Toblerone. It finds our tax rates quite appealing, even though it condemns the whole American banking system as quaint.

      Also, after they rummage through your garbage, they pick up all the wayward trash, rebag it, put a lid on the can and – if it’s garbage night and you’ve forgotten – will put it by the curb for you.

      Auf Wiedersehen.

      • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

        You know they’re originally expatriate Americans who left because they got whacked too often by Teddy Roosevelt’s “big stick”.

  • BrooklynBus

    Ned, you are a real reporter, you investigated the issue, unlike the one I’ve dealt with from Channel 5 who wants all the information handed to him so he can just repeat it on TV.

    All I can say here is that the City should be ashamed of itself for not already having a program in place. The homeowner should not have to be faced with the expense of trapping raccoons and opossums. What do we pay taxes for?

  • Whwsailboat

    It is ILLEGAL to deposit animals into Gateway National Recreation Area.

    • BrooklynBus

      What area would be more appropriate? Are you just supposed to keep them as pets? The City, State and the Feds aren’t offering much of an alternative?