New York signs truce with rac­coons

But John Tory’s of­fice says ‘war’ on the an­i­mals must con­tinue

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - TORONTO - David Hains Metro | Toronto

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

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