The details of what happened when to a Victoria-based writer allegedly stomping a raccoon to death on the evening of August 23 (and then posting photos to Twitter) are being investigated by the BC SPCA, The Fur-Bearers have confirmed. The Fur-Bearers will provide updates as they are made publicly available.
It is an important opportunity to share facts about raccoons, rabies, and being safe when wildlife is around – whether in an urban or rural environment.
Rabies in Raccoons
The BC SPCA reports that raccoons in British Columbia do not carry rabies. Rabies in Southwestern Ontario surged in recent years due to migration from the United States, but a strong vaccine program and awareness has helped keep that number from growing; in 2018 only 50 raccoons and 21 skunks were found with the virus in Southwestern Ontario, with 31 reported rabid bats across the province and no reports of foxes carrying the virus.
If You See Wildlife In Distress
If you suspect an animal is in distress please immediately contact your local wildlife rehabilitator, SPCA/Humane Society or local animal control agency. Handling an injured or distressed animal of any species can increase stress for the animal and cause greater injury or distress. Only qualified persons with the appropriate training, licensing, and equipment should handle injured, ill, or orphaned wildlife. Remain on scene if possible to help locate the animal for first responders and to warn other passersby to keep their distance as needed.
If An Animal Approaches
Any unfamiliar animal approaching can be intimidating and frightful. However, most instances of this occurring are because either humans have come close to a high value resource (family, food, water, shelter) being protected or the wildlife in question has been taught to approach people for a resource. Responding to these rare instances with these tips can prevent conflict from arising or increasing:
- Make space. Whether it’s getting into a car, behind a short wall or barrier, or moving away from possible resources (the edge of a trail, for example) slowly create some space to ease the situation.
- Ensure an escape route. Any animal, from a mouse to a grizzly bear, will be uneasy if they feel trapped or cornered. Making sure there is a safe way for them to leave the area and the situation can prevent escalation.
- Make noise and tell the animal to go away loudly. Human voices, while common to many urban animals, can still be a powerful tool. Make loud noises, clap your hands, stomp your feet (all things that small animals like raccoons and skunks might actually do if they feel threatened) and even throw objects toward but not at the animal. However, this should only be done if there is an escape route for them and when you’re certain that your presence is not the cause of the confrontation (such as when young or a food resource are being protected).
- Try to take in the details. If you need to report the incident, make sure you have as many details as possible like time of day, what you were doing at the time, where specifically you are, and if other people are around or other variables that may be important.
If Wildlife Is In Your Home
Contact a qualified wildlife removal service. We recommend Gates AAA Wildlife Control in the Greater Toronto Area and AAA Wildlife Control in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. Other tips such as asking for references and utilizing the AnimalKind program can be found in this blog.
Consider The Individual And Talk About Them
Conversations around the dinner table and national news often forget in their stories of wildlife that these are sentient, feeling individuals who have rich lives. When discussing wildlife – be it a positive or negative story – try and consider their perspective of the situation and be sure to use pronouns that identify them as individuals (he, she, they) as opposed to objects (it). You can also check out this article that goes more in-depth on including a non-human animals' perspective in storytelling.
If you or anyone you know has information about the Victoria raccoon case please contact the BC SPCA at 1-855-6BC-SPCA (1-855-622-7722).