Reckless raccoons worry some residents of the Ardennes: “Our cat hasn’t come in for some time”, “It’s wicked as stupid”

What to do against raccoons? This is the question that Carine asked us via the orange Alert us button. This resident of Sainte-Ode has noticed an increase in the presence of these animals in her region. A raccoon comes to visit him daily, eat his cat’s food and partially destroy his home. She wonders if they could be dangerous and if this species might not pose a problem.

“For several weeks in Sainte-Ode, raccoons have been appearing. They eat cat food, make noise at night, scare the chickens and walk around on the roof of our houses and get famously close to us”, worries Thomas via the orange Alert us button. It is in the garden of his parents that the small mammals seem to have taken their marks. “Our cat hasn’t been home for some time. Maybe he got scared,” notes the young man.

His mother Carine is worried about the damage caused. “He trashes everything. When he comes across a bag, he tears it up and puts it everywhere. I think he’s looking for food”she explains.

The family did some research and concluded that it is better not to approach these raccoons. “It’s mean as stupid. We don’t know what to do. We called the DNF (Nature and Forests Department) but they don’t have cages available”, he regrets. Thomas and his mother Carine then plan to install cages themselves. “We wonder if there will not be a problem one day. We ask ourselves a lot of questions”, he tells us. For her part, Carine fears that the raccoon will end up entering her home. “It scares me. If he comes into the house, I don’t know what to do,” she breathes.

The raccoon is a species from Germany. For several years, it is not uncommon to come across them on our territory. Its presence has even increased in recent years. Over the years, its presence has increased, especially south of the Sambre and Meuse furrow. In the Hainaut region, its presence remains rare. It is estimated that in Wallonia there are between 50 and 70,000 raccoons. The proliferation of this species can be problematic, particularly because of its impact on biodiversity.

In certain sectors, the DNF, a service of the Public Service of Wallonia, has chosen to eliminate the raccoon. The goal is not the comfort of the inhabitants but to preserve endangered animals. “Our problem is to guarantee the good survival of rare populations. In some places, we will install traps only if rare and wild species are threatened”, explains Thierry Petit, forest officer at the Public Service of Wallonia. This is particularly the case with black storks, owls and red frogs, real prey for raccoons. To do this, the DNF installs cages in well-defined areas.

Studies show that the raccoon is more present in built-up areas than in natural habitats. One reason for this is that the raccoon finds more resources in human habitats. The raccoon is considered an invasive species, enlightens us Vincian Schockertbiologist at SPW. “It has a high potential for reproduction and settlement because here it lives in habitats similar to North America where it comes from. The habitat and climate conditions suit them perfectly. And if we gives them food in the agglomerations, we only reinforce their population”, explains the specialist.

For pet owners, it is advisable to bring their food indoors at night to avoid attracting raccoons. In the same way, it is preferable to protect your garbage can, block their access to cat flaps, install systems that prevent raccoons from climbing fruit trees. It is estimated that the raccoon population will gradually continue to grow. “There will be a colonization of more habitats. And it is very likely that the densities will increase further in the agglomerations”, illuminate Vincian Schockert. Before adding: “Eliminating raccoons is a solution. It is sometimes comfortable for a while. But as we are dealing with a very mobile species and in search of new territories, we will end up with new raccoons and we will have to manage this problem to infinity”.

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