WARNING: This article contains details and images depicting animal attacks that some readers may find disturbing.
Two Vancouver residents and their pets were attacked by raccoons within hours of each other late last week.
The first incident late Thursday night saw Emma Yandole suffer lacerations that required several stitches on her leg.
Yandole and a friend had been walking their dogs near Arbutus Street and West First Avenue. Her friend’s dog was cut badly in the attack, according to Yandole, whose own dog escaped unscathed after a raccoon leapt at them from nearby bushes.
A few hours later, around 1:30 a.m. Friday night, Jake Moss was also wounded after being jumped by three raccoons at the same intersection.
His dog, a Shih Tzu named Pingu, lost an eye in the attack.
The Kitsilano residents are speaking out, saying authorities aren’t doing enough to deal with the aggressive raccoons in their neighbourhood.
“It’s scary. Like, I don’t want to go down that block,” Yandole told CBC News. “It’s sad because I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 20 years. It’s always been OK.
“I’ve seen raccoons before, many times, and they just kinda skulk away. But this time it was vicious.”
Moss says he and his dog were attacked on three sides by the feral animals with “blood dripping all over,” he described.
“At first, I picked them up and just threw them a few feet, thinking surely they would stop at that point, but they didn’t,” he said.
“They just kept coming back for more. I didn’t think they would do that.”
Both Moss and Yandole say one of their neighbours has been feeding the raccoons, which may have gotten habituated towards humans and led to the bold attacks — something previously seen with bear and coyote attacks on humans.
John Gray, manager of animal services for the City of Vancouver, said there is an ongoing investigation into wildlife feeding at an address near where the attacks happened in Kitsilano, on Vancouver’s west side.
“While we do not have a raccoon policy, we do have a new wildlife feeding bylaw, which prohibits the feeding of wildlife anywhere in Vancouver,” Gray said in a statement.
The official added that the city had received 527 raccoon-related complaints so far this year, with 1,016 complaints received in 2022.
Raccoons are protected under the provincial Wildlife Act. The B.C. Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) says they protect the public from dangerous wildlife — such as bears and coyotes — but that raccoons fall outside their mandate.
“[The BCCOS] has recently received several calls regarding aggressive raccoons in the Vancouver area,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“When notified about raccoons, conservation officers suggest the public contact pest control companies and private trappers.”
Experts say not to feed wildlife
Andrea Wallace, the wild animal welfare manager for the B.C. SPCA, said feeding feral animals causes more human-wildlife conflict.
“They’re expecting people to give them food and that’s not a good thing,” she told Michelle Eliot, host of CBC’s B.C. Today. “It’s dangerous for everyone.”
Wallace said as long as residents manage their garbage and keep food sources contained, they will be able to happily co-exist with raccoons — which are beneficial in controlling rodent populations and pollinating plants.
Bill Green, who owns Vancouver-based Raincity Pest Control, told CBC News that female raccoons can get protective over their young ones during breeding season, which begins in spring.
He estimates that pest control services for raccoons could cost anywhere from $350 to around $600.
For his part, Moss says there are double standards at play when it comes to how conservation officers treat raccoons.
“We’ve killed coyotes for being in a park where attacks occurred, when we knew that there was somebody feeding them,” he said. “If you live in a $5,000,000 mansion and … a bear starts foraging for food, they’ll shoot it with a rifle.
“But vicious raccoons that have now preyed on multiple animals and attacked multiple people? They’re apparently not an issue.”
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