Raccoon spotting in Westlock County

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Fish and Wildlife says raccoons are becoming more common in the north of the province

WESTLOCK – If you think you see a raccoon in the Westlock area, you may not see anything.

Westlock County resident Brandy Reid saw a raccoon in her yard off Township Road 590 near Rainbow Trout Pond on the afternoon of May 30.

“At first I thought it was a porcupine because why would there be a raccoon here,” Reid said. “I think that’s a very rare sighting – I don’t think they’re supposed to be in Alberta.”

Reid said she was surprised by the unusual sighting, her first raccoon she’s seen in Alberta since moving here 14 years ago.

“He was quite tall,” she said. “I was excited actually. I sat there for a while watching it.

With an increase in the population of black and gray masked creatures, raccoon sightings in the region and northern Alberta have also increased in recent years. At one time it was considered a rare sighting.

Mike Ewald, provincial problem wildlife specialist with Fish and Wildlife Alberta based in Barrhead, said there has been an increase in sightings in the area in recent years.

“They’re extremely common in southern Alberta and there are increasing reports of raccoon sightings north of Edmonton,” Ewald said, noting that wildlife officers aren’t tracking them. or fail to monitor raccoons in the area. “It’s no longer a shock that they’re here.”

Ewald would like to remind residents of Westlock County and area to approach raccoons with the same caution as they would when dealing with skunks, foxes or bats, as they are known carriers. rabies, although rabies incidents in the area have been very low for a long time.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had any confirmed cases of rabies,” Ewald said. “Whether it’s a raccoon or a weasel or whatever, they still have teeth and who knows what kind of disease they may be carrying.”

Known as the trash bandit, the raccoon can be mischievous and a nuisance animal.

“The raccoon can be a real pest and people really should educate themselves about what pesky little creatures they can be,” Ewald said, noting that with more raccoon sightings people need to be more aware. and more diligent.

“This is just another reminder for people to make sure they keep all their attractants safe. This includes not only garbage, as raccoons love getting into garbage, but also cat food, dog food and things like that that they can leave in an open dish on a patio,” he said.

Raccoons are thought to be unable to survive Alberta’s harsh winters, but that is not the case, Ewald noted.

“I don’t think raccoons have a problem with harsh winters. They’re just learning to adapt to the different food sources that are here,” he said. “This is again where people need to be much more aware of not leaving any unnatural food sources out there – whether it’s raccoons, skunks or bears, it doesn’t matter. If you don’t deal with the attractants that are out there, so you’re going to make that fauna more habituated to people and might become more of a problem.

If there are concerns about dangerous animals or illegal hunting or fishing activities or if a raccoon, fox or skunk is acting “abnormally”, they can call a Fish and Wildlife Alberta hotline at 1-800-642-3800.

Kristine Jean, TownandCountryToday.com

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