Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and Senator Mark Grisanti, signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 15, allows for the capture of raccoons regardless of whether they are rabid or not.
The old law implied that wildlife had to display signs of illness or had to be venomous to be captured.
The law had “a silly technical flaw,” Hevesi said at a press conference in Middle Village on Monday, July 26, which allowed for “a bad interpretation.”
“The old law let the raccoon population flourish,” he said.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who also attended the press conference, said “residents of the 38th Council District see raccoons in the day, at nights, going through garbage and even swimming in pools.”
Teresa Hubert, a longtime resident of Middle Village, said she has always seen raccoons around the neighborhood, but lately the problem has gotten worse.
One evening she awoke to noises in her backyard and when she looked outside, she saw a raccoon drinking from her above-ground pool.
“It took the cover off the pool,” recalled Ricky, Hubert's six-year-old son. “It ate a noodle [pool floatation device].”
“It’s very unsanitary. I swim in that pool. Ricky swims in the pool,” Hubert added.
To try to get rid of the pests, a neighbor paid $300 for a trap to be set up. A medium dog-sized raccoon was caught, but there are more, Hubert said.
The new law requires the city to trap and remove raccoons at the request of the public, representatives said. If the animals are healthy they can be released into a non-residential area. Therefore, residents will no longer have to pay for traps or resort to dealing with them on their own.
“It’s a terrible thing we have to face,” Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who represents nearby Forest Hills, said. “We are part of New York City and can’t be worried about raccoons,” she said.
To report a raccoon incident, call the city at (718) 482-4900.