An Ohio woman visiting family over the Fourth of July weekend on Longboat Key was bitten twice on the leg by a raccoon near a Beachplace beach access.
About 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 5, a raccoon came out from under a wooden boardwalk near Beachplace Building 8 while Cara Richard, of Gahana, Ohio, was rinsing off sand from the beach at an outdoor shower.
Richard kicked the raccoon after the first bite on her lower right leg, but it re-emerged seconds later and bit her again before disappearing into some nearby sea grapes.
Michael Richard, Cara Richard’s brother-in-law, reported the incident to police. Richard was transported to Sarasota Memorial Hospital about 8:30 p.m.
Neither Richard nor Michael Richard returned calls seeking comment for this story.
Longboat Key Police Department officers could not locate the raccoon, and the Sarasota County Animal Control was advised of the incident. Animal-control officers arrived July 6 to set traps for the raccoon.
Nick Luman, manager of Beachplace, 1045 Gulf of Mexico Drive, said a raccoon was caught in the trap the next day.
“Whether they caught the right raccoon or not is a different story,” said Luman, who said that the 11-building, 336-unit complex on 31 acres of land with four separate beach accesses had never had a reported raccoon incident before July 5. “It appears to be a very isolated incident.”
In an attempt to inform residents how to keep critters away from their neighborhoods, the town of Longboat Key created a brochure in May called “A Citizen’s Guide to Nuisance Wildlife.”
Vice Mayor David Brenner and Commissioner Lynn Larson had pushed for education about nuisance wildlife after Emerald Harbor resident Weldon Frost warned the Longboat Key Town Commission last year that raccoons were a big problem on the Key.
The brochure states: “Understanding is the key to wildlife problem solving” and “knowing why the snake is in your garden, the armadillo is digging up your lawn or the raccoon is getting into your garbage is an essential first step toward resolving these and other wildlife nuisance problems.”
The majority of the brochure, however, focuses on when raccoons make appearances (at night or early in the morning), the diseases they carry and how to avoid them from knocking over your garbage cans.
The brochure warns people not to feed raccoons because it’s the main reason the animals lose their respect of and fear for people. It also states that it’s illegal to feed the animals in Florida.
“All residents and visitors can continue to do is be educated about the wildlife that exists on this island,” said Longboat Key Vice Mayor David Brenner.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].