Bischofswerda: Raccoon Alert: What helps against the night thief?

Raccoon alert: what helps against a nocturnal predator?

They dig through trash cans and enter homes. That is why traps are set so often. What to consider.

At the Bischofswerda Zoo, visitors love watching raccoons. Nocturnal animals are often not welcome outdoors.
© SZ / Uwe Soeder

Bischofswerda / Cummins. Zoo director Silvia Berger shakes her head vigorously. “Wild animals don’t belong in zoos. We can’t take them,” she says — and for good reason. Time and time again, there are people who have captured raccoons at the entrance to the zoo in Bischofswerda these days – in the belief that their rocks can find a new home with their animal companions in the enclosure.

But not only in the Schiebocker Tierpark inquiries about fur animals accumulate, the phone in the district regulatory office also rings almost every day with the question: what to do with a captured raccoon?

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The latest figures on the evolution of the raccoon population are on the table in the office of the head of the Public Order Office, Renee Burke. The curve for animals killed has risen almost steadily over the past five years. “In 2015/2016 we have 1,916 animals in the stats, and in 2021/202 there will be 2,912,” says Renee Bourke. In 2019/20, 3,096 animals were hunted.

© SZ Graphics

The origin of its spread is likely to be 90 years ago. The first couple of raccoons, shipped from North America, are said to have been released near Kassel in 1934 to enrich the local fauna. Ten years later, a bomb exploded on a fur farm near Berlin, and about 50 animals escaped.

Jagdschutzverband sees huge growth

These are only two stories about the arrival of the raccoon in Germany, at the same time a large number of cases are known especially from East Germany and Hesse. Kassel is considered a stronghold. “We know pictures of a raccoon peeking through a chimney,” says Renee Burke.

According to estimates, about half a million immigrants feel at home in Germany. However, according to the German Nature Conservation Union (Nabu), there are no reliable figures. On the other hand, the German Hunting Protection Association sees a massive increase in the population.

Kassel conditions are still far away in the Bautzen region. But Burke and his colleague Thomas Sontag, a writer with the Regulatory Office’s Lower Fishing Authority, have also seen an outbreak of the invasive species, and there are reports from all of the communities in the area. Since the mid-2000s, there has been a growing demand for dealing with voracious invaders. However, there was no one in authority in the cammins with the captured animals.

Raccoons are hunted all year round – except for one

At the Bischofswerda Zoo, on the other hand, four house raccoons in crook masks—two girls and two castrated boys—fall asleep in the midday sun. The facility is secured with electricity, escape is impossible – and there is food according to the daily schedule. After years of work, the quartet is hardly ready for practical jokes.

“They seldom crawl into the tree here,” says Sylvia Berger, enthusiastic about the wit of social, intelligent, easy-to-care-for animals. Since their attic is not too high, opening the lid of the litter box is a piece of cake – they are also happy to invite you to visit the sweet cherries that are currently ripe.

Raccoons are nocturnal animals, and apart from humans, immigrants have no enemies or competitors in Germany.

Raccoons are nocturnal animals, and apart from humans, immigrants have no enemies or competitors in Germany.
© Tino Planet

However, from the point of view of his opponents, the raccoon leaves great damage. The nocturnal fiery animal, which has no habitat and no nutritional requirements, likes to remove birds’ nests and thus harm the number of young animals. Renee Burke calls him a “Ledergian” because – in the truest sense of the word – he digs through compost piles and trash cans adroitly and makes it possible to get into homes through the smallest of holes. Its spread is also possible because it has no enemies or competitors except humans. However, the current numerous sightings also have to do with the curiosity of the raccoon offspring.

Renee Burke and Sylvia Berger agree. “We have to come to terms with the raccoon.” Unlike the zoo director, the area is the first point of contact when it comes to “problem bears”. Because an intruder who sometimes suffers from unbridled hunger is subject to hunting law, and it is the responsibility of the district administration. Hunters catch it year-round, with one limitation: Parents may not be shot between March 1 and June 15. That would be a criminal offense.

Renee Burke is the head of the District Regulatory Office.  This is also the first point of contact for raccoon problems.

Renee Burke is the head of the District Regulatory Office. This is also the first point of contact for raccoon problems.
© Stephen Unger

But what can be done to prevent raccoons from moving into the house or garden in the first place? Thomas Sontag advises making animals “as uncomfortable as possible”. Food scraps should not be thrown on the compost and trash cans should be tightly closed. In accordance with the law of the hunt and after consultation with the fisherman, it is also possible to set up a live trap – but only on your property with a fence or fence and not somewhere in the landscape.

Since raccoons have a sweet tooth, cream nut nougat and gummy bears should be especially well suited to attract them. However, hunters have to check twice a day to make sure everything is in order, because the ambush can also become a problem for other animals, such as cats. This was recently proven by a case by the animal protection association Bischofswerda from Raminau, in which a completely dehydrated, locked cat was found in a trap.

A property owner may not kill a caught raccoon himself unless he has a valid hunting license, otherwise he must seek help from the hunter. It is prohibited to release animals elsewhere or even bring them into the zoo. “We don’t have the option to take them and we don’t know if the rocks carry diseases with them,” says Silvia Berger.

However, Rene Burke is also tempering expectations with increased fishing pressure. “The remaining animals compensate for that with more offspring,” he says. This means: the more raccoons were killed, the more small animals were killed.

Call the Minimal Fishing Authority at 03591 5251-32115 and [email protected]

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