A new bill in the City Council would create a citywide policy for the prompt and humane removal of the furry nighttime bandits from residential areas.
Currently no such law exists, and the city's raccoon population is booming - especially in outer-borough neighborhoods like Glendale and Ridgewood. Elected officials announced the proposed legislation on a residential side street in Glendale where raccoons are often seen wandering at night.
“Raccoons may seem like cute little bandits, but they can be unsanitary, filthy and a big nuisance,” said Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who introduced the law. She said the bill is “putting the raccoon control issue on the table.”
Controlling the city's raccoons would fall under the purview of the Department of Health. The department would “ensure the prompt removal of any raccoon” from public or private property when asked to do so, and coordinate its release back into the wild with the Parks Department.
How the city plans to catch the animals, if the bill is passed, is a question that must be answered.
City-bred raccoons can grow to large sizes, and after repeated exposure to humans often lose their shyness. They are known to roam comfortably through backyards and streets; a typical sighting was the one reported by Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who witnessed a group of raccoons on the prowl on Grove Street in Ridgewood, where she lives.
A plan to beef up raccoon control operations would have to be started from scratch. It would need additional funding, and then there are details like where to release the raccoons once they're captured. But officials insisted it could be done.
“The city really must get a handle on this,” said Nolan. “Queens County is not the place for a large raccoon population.”
Mary Borzelino welcomed news that the city will tackle the issue.
“Finally, something's being done,” said Borzelino, who lives on 68th Avenue in Glendale, where raccoons run rampant. “We're [being] invaded in our backyards, on our stoops. They're not afraid of anything.”