New York signs truce with raccoons
But John Tory’s office says ‘war’ on the animals must continue
A New York City ad campaign urges residents to give raccoons a chance.
Adorable images of raccoons, deer and wolves accompanied by the text “New Yorker” have graced transit posters in New York since WildlifeNYC launched its campaign in May. The ads spread the idea that the urban environment is shared with wildlife, and our animal neighbours shouldn’t be seen as a nuisance.
The ads also point to online resources where people can learn more about the animals.
“We want human New Yorkers to get educated about their animal neighbors and to appreciate our city’s ecological diversity,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press release.
York University associate professor Suzanne MacDonald, one of the world’s leading experts on raccoons, first saw the ads making the rounds on social media.
“I thought it was awesome,” she told Metro.
MacDonald said Toronto must live within the reality of its ecosystem. That means sharing the environment with raccoons and suzanne MacDonald other urban animals.
“They’re here, we’re here, let’s all get along,” she said.
Toronto has had a troubled history with raccoons. In April 2015, Mayor John Tory “declared war” on Raccoon Nation when promoting a new compost bin designed to keep them out of our waste.
Informed of the WildlifeNYC campaign, Tory’s office agreed that raccoons are a fact of life in Toronto. But spokesperson Don Peat made it clear that the unwritten contract with trash pandas comes with conditions.
“Mayor Tory has been clear that Raccoon Nation is welcome to live in Toronto in peace provided they leave our green bins alone. Until Toronto’s raccoon population can agree to those terms, the war continues because defeat is not an option.”
Mary Lou Leiher, the program manager for Toronto Animal Services, was quick to say that, in policy terms, Toronto has not issued a formal declaration against raccoons.
“I don’t think the city is at war,” she told Metro, pointing out many programs the city provides to support wildlife.
“We don’t want people to see raccoons as the enemy.”
They’re here, we’re here, let’s all get along.
Raccoons are called true “New Yorkers.” TorsTar News service file