Weldon Frost likes the orange and mango trees that grow in the yard of his Emerald Harbor home. The problem is, so do raccoons. Frequently, they eat the fruit from the trees, leaving behind a mess with their scraps. And that’s not the only way Frost says the raccoons are a nuisance.
Recently, Frost repainted the roof of his house and had to remove a thick layer of manure. He hears them darting across his roof. He sees them scurrying in the Dumpsters behind local restaurants. During his walks through Joan M. Durante Park, he sees raccoon prints on the park’s trail, which he says increase in number every year.
“It’s time to get rid of the things,” Frost said. “We do not need raccoons on this island.”
Frost sent an e-mail Tuesday to Town Manager Bruce St. Denis outlining his concerns.
“It is time for the town to eliminate, eradicate, re-settle, remove, transport or export these creatures, who are both a nuisance and a menace,” Frost wrote. “They are a nuisance because of the messes they make, and the piles of manure they leave behind. They are a menace because of the diseases they carry — not necessarily limited to rabies.”
But St. Denis said that animal-control services are provided by counties (Manatee County, in Frost’s case) and are not a town operation. St. Denis wrote in an e-mail response to Frost that Manatee County does not trap and/or relocate raccoons and that such animal complaint calls are referred to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which typically doesn’t get involved unless an animal is injured.
“It’s passing the buck into another government agency,” Frost said.
Frost cites the Longboat Key Town Commission’s decision to award $2,400 to the Longbeach Village Association for peacock removal as an example of the town getting involved in animal-control matters. But St. Denis said that the money was awarded after Village residents approached the commission — something any resident can do.
“I have already approached the town by virtue of my e-mail and suggested that they initiate a program to remove the rascals,” Frost said.
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- Alameda is an island city just across the San Francisco Bay from the largish city of that same name. And Alameda has a raccoon problem. Last month it made the news when a woman walking her dog was tracked down and attacked by a "gang" of raccoons for no apparent reason. That was one of ten such attacks by raccoons in recent months, just in Alameda. Most recently, four raccoons entered a house through the doggie door, presumably to get at the dog food dishes inside. When confronted by the house dogs, they attacked, wounding both dogs.
One theory for these attacks is that being an island, there is no room left for the burgeoning raccoon population to spread out and forage for food. With food being so scarce, the animals have gone from garbage dumpster diving to seeking out pet food. Maybe they see dogs as a direct competition for food, since most of these attacks are directed at pets.
And of course, what could this possibly have to do with Longboat Key, over 3,000 miles away, except that it is also an island with a growing raccoon population that has lately been less than shy around the island residents. Raccoons are very bright animals. They figure things out, like where to get food when there is no more readily available.
If the growing raccoon problem on Longboat Key is not addressed, before too long the same type of attacks may start, directed first at dogs, then maybe the dog walkers.
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