Racoons Begin Returning to Toronto After Annual Winter Migration — And Not Everyone’s Happy
TORONTO — The city’s estimated 80,000+ raccoons have begun waddling back into town after their annual 2,000 kilometre (1,240 mile) migration back from their winter homes in the Florida Panhandle and parts of Georgia.
And, while everyone is glad that spring is back, not everyone is glad the raccoons are.
“Yeah, it’s that time of year again — sorta like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the raccoons are returning to Toronto,” said City of Toronto Animal Services Director Sandra Bollocks.
“We’re seeing somewhere around 10,000 or so of the little masked bandits arriving back every night and, yeah, we’re getting the annual flood of pretty wacko phone calls, texts and emails — asking if raccoons attack old people, reporting ones that rang the doorbell and ran, claiming one stole a pair of expensive new Ray Bans, reporting gangs of them running amok…”
“It happens every year when the raccoons return.”
A January city-wide poll showed that most people (72%) think raccoons are almost completely harmless and we should learn to co-exist with them. 53% think they’re highly intelligent. Nearly 10% would like to pat them and ‘rubby-wubby their pink little tummies’ (not advised). One lady commented that she is sure one neighbourhood raccoon is her reincarnated husband.
But a vocal 24% think raccoons are “shifty buggers” that “have mastered the adult-proof green-bin locks” and should be chased back to wherever they came from. 11% are sure raccoons spy on them through their bedroom windows at night. 2% say a raccoon picked their pocket and got away with their wallet. One man in The Beaches commented that raccoons make a habit of “loudly humping his neighbour’s cat, Moira, in the middle of the damn night’.
“Look, raccoons have become used to being around people and they don’t really want anything to do with you…nothing personal. They are not dangerous,” said Bollocks.
“Simple rules: Don’t feed them. Don’t leave pet food out. Lock your green bins. And don’t turn your back on them if you’re eating a bratwurst on a bun in your back yard…kidding, kidding, kidding. Raccoons don’t like bratwurst. Hahaha.”
Still, despite City efforts to better inform Torontonians about the nature of raccoons during their annual migratory return, the debates and flat-out arguments continue.
“I think raccoons show Mother Nature’s beauty, adaptability and resilience,” said one caller to CBC Radio One.
“Raccoons are hungry, horny wild animals. Lord knows what they’d do to me if I ever fell asleep on my lawn chair,” said the next caller.
William Yum & Steve Boyd
Reportering for The Lapine