Life

Was An Innocent Raccoon The Victim Of A Panicked UWS Smear Campaign?: Gothamist


Via Cantaloupe Alone’s flickr

New Yorkers maintain a delicate detente with the wildlife of the city—if we have to sacrifice the occasional movie theater or Chinese restaurant to maintain the peace, so be it. But when a rat or squirrel breaks the social contract and goes on the offensive, we have to neutralize the threat without falling for their animalistic charms (like when they have cute little hands that they use to hold things, just like a person would). One such raccoon was accused of threatening humans this weekend on the Upper West Side—but he may have been the victim of a smear campaign by panicky locals.

West Side Rag reported that the incident was sparked when someone called 911 on a raccoon in a tree on Columbus Avenue near 71st Street on Sunday morning. The 911 caller said the raccoon was “attacking passersby”; police arrived there around 9:30 a.m., as locals gathered around to watch the scene play out.

At least one person on the Citizen app referred to the raccoon saying that “the suspect has lowered itself from the tree.” You can see videos of the raccoon below.

It’s unclear what, if anything, police did with the raccoon. But here’s another video of the same alleged raccoon threat, also at 71st Street, earlier that morning:

And here is a closeup photo of an emboldened raccoon in the area from a few days earlier:

And here’s the bone-chilling account of its exploits:

But eyewitnesses say the raccoon wasn’t actually attacking any passersby. Local resident Kate Koza wrote an op-ed for West Side Rag saying the raccoon was simply minding its business when people began to stop and ogle.

One woman was very upset that people were stopping to take pictures, vehemently saying it “wasn’t cute” and that it posed a danger. I overheard a few calls to the police and animal control, one claiming an attack that there was absolutely no evidence of. The same person who claimed the attack was bafflingly also blaming the de Blasio administration. There was no evidence that anyone in the vicinity was injured, had been bitten, etc. Everyone was merely intrigued.

Fear of raccoons has been stoked in recent months as many have reportedly been infected with canine distemper virus, which isn’t dangerous to humans (but is dangerous to dogs), and which allegedly causes them to display “zombie-like” behavior. Over 69 raccoons died this summer alone due to the disease.

And another “screeching” raccoon was removed from an awning on West 86th Street a few weeks ago. (Raccoons have a thing for climbing where they don’t belong in that area.)

And speaking of climbing, New York City could really use more daredevil raccoons like this fearless creature:




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