New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth S. Crowley has a brilliant idea: let’s have the city health department round up raccoons whenever they annoy people and move them to city parks. Right now the health department will only remove raccoons if they think there’s a chance they could be rabid.
Partly that’s because they have their hands full removing and testing raccoons that might be rabid in Central Park. And partly because non-rabid raccoons aren’t a public health threat and people just need to get over whatever irrational fears they have about raccoons and learn to live with them. The bill would make the health department get involved in issues other than health. They’d have to spend money on every “nuisance” raccoons out there–really more a matter of taste and popularity.
New York has a big raccoon rabies scare now, but so far it’s got nothing to do with Queens, where Crowley is from. The city’s data shows zero rabies cases in either Queens or Staten Island, but we have had 11 cases in the Bronx, one in Brooklyn. Manhattan has had an amazing 120 rabid raccoons, almost all of them in northern Central Park. So far this year New York state has tested 626 raccoons and found 173 with rabies.
The city and USDA Wildlife Services vaccinated Central Park raccoons for rabies this spring and plan to go out again this fall to inoculate the ones born this year.
Which would you rather have the NYC health department spending its limited resources on? Preventing rabies in one of the world’s busiest parks–or providing some old ladies in the practically suburban part of Queens with a free pest removal service?
Right now anybody who doesn’t like a raccoon on their property is totally allowed to call a pest control company to remove it. They just have to pay for it. In contrast, if they find an injured animal and want to take care of it, they’ve got nowhere to turn but a list of volunteer wildlife rehabilitators and the non-profit Wild Bird Fund. The idiotic bill was also sponsored by Sara M. Gonzalez, Letitia James, Brad S. Lander, Larry B. Seabrook and James Vacca.
Where to See Wildlife in New York City (including raccoons)