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iN VIDEO: Rising number of raccoons could become an expensive problem for Kamloops

Image Credit: PIXABY
December 12, 2018 - 2:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - Racoon sightings are becoming more and more common in Kamloops and a Thompson Rivers University animal ecologist says governments need to act sooner rather than later to put a stop to the invasive species.

For years, it was rare to spot a raccoon in the tournament capital, but more recently animals have become more established in neighbouring valleys and are working their way into Kamloops, Karl Larsen says.

“Like many invasive species, they get into an area, they stay in low numbers for a while and then suddenly rise up in numbers very quickly,” he says.

Larsen explains the expansion of roads and highways have made it easier for animals to move from location to location.

The one thing that makes raccoons unique, is that they do well in urban and rural settings, he says.

“Just ask anyone that lives in Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton,” Larsen says. “They’re omnivores which means they eat anything. Garbage cans are their lunch buckets.”

As the raccoon population increases in Kamloops, changes could be coming to the way people deal with their garbage. While bears getting into garbage is an issue, the bruins only go after garbage cans in certain areas of the city.

“Sure there are (bears) that come right into town, but largely they are a periphery issue,” he says.

Larsen believes municipalities need to act sooner than later to put preventative measures to remove invasive species, like raccoons.

“As you let invasive species become more established the cost of removing them increases,” he says. “It would be a constant war because they have been so well established in neighbouring valleys that they are going to be constantly moving in this direction.”

Although some might say raccoons are cute — and even Larsen says he cared for a seized raccoon temporarily — they are also known to eat small animals.

“People are going to have to be really careful with their small dogs and cats,” he says. “If you’re accustomed to letting your small dog or cat run around, especially cats at night, that’s going to be an increased risk to them.”

Larsen says raccoons also have an ability to get into anything human hands can open.

“Unless you put a padlock on it, if it’s a lock that human hands can open, raccoons can open it,” he says. “Raccoons are very good at opening all sorts of different latches and locks.”

So when can Kamloops residents start preparing for the furry trash bandits to move into Kamloops neighbourhoods in a big way?

It's a tough question to answer, Larsen says, but it's almost it's inevitable. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Karen Edwards or call (250) 819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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