Trash pandas in Calgary? Sighting raises questions on raccoon inhabitants

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When Douglas Dauncey noticed a raccoon making an attempt to get into his trash, he grabbed a digital camera and began filming. (Submitted by Douglas Dauncey – picture credit score)

When his porch mild flicked on at 2 a.m., Douglas Dauncey thought the skunks had been again. As an alternative, an surprising customer was crawling down the wood fence, arms stretched out, headed straight for his full trash baggage.

Dauncey admits he missed rubbish pickup. His slip-up was the raccoon’s alternative.

“I managed to catch him earlier than he tore all of it aside,” Dauncey mentioned. “I sort of banged on my door and did not wish to scare away solely as a result of he was actually lovely.”

Helen Pike/CBC

Helen Pike/CBC

Many Calgarians like Dauncey have by no means seen a raccoon within the wild. Whereas Calgary does have a raccoon inhabitants, they have an inclination to fly below the radar. However in response to one skilled, over the previous variety of years there was a turning level. They don’t seem to be as widespread as coyotes and jackrabbits, however the metropolis’s raccoon inhabitants is on the rise.

“I have been in western Canada most of my life, and I’ve by no means seen a raccoon in individual,” Dauncey mentioned. “I’ve all the time had skunks … below my stairs. I am all the time getting skunks in my rubbish.”

However raccoons? Dauncey mentioned he is solely seen them in zoos.

“I simply watched him for a bit and caught him on video till he left the yard and he did not make any mess, however he was actually cute,” Dauncey mentioned.

Raccoon inhabitants small, however rising

Between 2017 and 2020, citizen scientists recognized 263 pictures of raccoons captured on wildlife cameras as a part of a program known as Calgary Captured.

The animals have known as southern Alberta dwelling for many years, in response to wildlife biologist Chris Fisher. However, not like their delinquent cousins in Ontario, the raccoons right here aren’t as brazen.

They principally hold to themselves and hand around in town’s parks — solely actually popping out at night time, and snoozing through the day.

Raccoons may come and go to the stray trash bag once in a while, mentioned Fisher, as they thrive in city environments. However, he added, they’re simply as completely satisfied consuming crab apples or feasting on different city fares that aren’t bundled up and ready for rubbish day.

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They solely come out at night time

“There isn’t any doubt the pattern is we’re seeing increasingly raccoons in southern Alberta and particularly Calgary,” Fisher mentioned. “As our winters and harsh circumstances are enhancing, [there are] bigger populations of raccoons and positively extra observations of raccoons within the elements of town that you’d count on them.”

The critters might be present in neighbourhoods backing onto Fish Creek Park, or the Bow and Elbow Rivers. Fisher mentioned they search out good tree protection — they like to crawl into the hollows of cottonwood timber for shelter.

Fisher mentioned Calgary will not see a inhabitants as massive or as pesky as there may be in a spot like Toronto — but. We do not have sufficient habitat. However he did observe that local weather change helps these southern species to thrive right here in Alberta.

He guesses there are dozens of people at the moment residing in Calgary, whereas in Toronto there are tens of hundreds roaming the streets in packs.

He thinks we’ve a number of a long time earlier than the raccoons in Calgary endure a full-on trash panda transformation.

“It may be simply one thing that we’ll must get used to as they are going to turn out to be a higher a part of the character of Wild Calgary,” Fisher mentioned.

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