Too many raccoons? York residents call situation an “infestation”

YORK – Concerns have been raised about there being an “infestation” of racoons in the city, causing problems and possibly posing a health threat.

Judy Thomas addressed the York City Council Thursday night, to ask if anything can be done.

She said she lives in the 600 Block of Mayhew Avenue, “and we’ve lived in York for 40 years. I really have a concern about this. I think this issue is very important and I’ve talked with other people who agree. As a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, I have a concern about the number of racoons in the city. Their numbers are getting, or already are, out of control. Everyone you talk to has their own stories about how many are roaming around. I think it would be wise for the health of citizens to start getting the numbers down.

“As you probably already know, their body weight is usually from 11 to 57 pounds. They are mostly nocturnal and they usually have litters of five,” Thomas said. “Since there are no bears or many eagles or wolves inside our city that would keep the racoon population down, there are thousands of them running around usually at night and using the storm sewer lines for their underground expressway. I am assuming from the people who see them after dark and before sun-up, there are thousands inside the city of York every night of the week.

“They sleep in abandoned buildings or abandoned houses and even occupied homes,” she continued, “and chimneys, garages, sheds. However, our hometown raccoons seem to enjoy living and traveling through our storm sewers. In the evenings, they come out. Many, many people have seen them coming out of the sewers along the streets every single night. They roam around as they please, they carry rabies in their saliva – just a touch of saliva can spread rabies to other species and humans.

“Their droppings are very dangerous and this is where my main concern is,” Thomas said. “We all know they roam the parks in town, looking in garbage containers as well as our own yards and they poop wherever they go. We need to protect these areas from raccoons because the parks are full of many kids, running around having fun as they should. But because of the dangers of them coming into contact with the droppings and becoming ill, this raccoon population needs to be taken down immediately. Why would we sit by and take the risk? The droppings also carry a dozen or more pathogens, distemper, epizootic virus, and round worms that are very dangerous.

“We had droppings around our house,” she said. “If it happens where children play outside, in the park or their own yard and they come into contact with the droppings, it could be devastating. We need to tighten up the sanitation by keeping garbage in tightly covered containers, keep your pets inside the during the night hours, but we also need to take this population that has been exploding for some time down by a lot,” Thomas continued. “They are all over this town, not just in the parks and rundown areas. So many people have told me about seeing them in the evening and night from all areas. This is a serious problem and is getting bigger by the day. It is time to take some action and get these numbers way down. Protect our children and every citizen in this awesome town.”

“I want to support what she is saying,” said Councilmember Vicki Northrop. “We put up cameras at my house and I’ve seen about three by our patio each night. At my son’s house, families of racoons come out of the sewer and go into a garage. They are not afraid of people and every year people are seeing more and more. I want to support her because I agree with what she’s saying.”

Councilmember Matt Wagner said he also agreed. “Could we look at that, as to whether you can live trap in the city, during certain seasons? I think we need to look at that.”

York City Attorney Charles Campbell said yes, the council could look into that, and the council appeared to be in support of exploring different solutions in the future.

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