Raccoons: From Scavengers To Predators

raccoons from scavengers to predators

Raccoon attacks are a growing menace in North America, particularly in Vancouver, Canada, where raccoons seem to have learned to hunt for prey. These original scavengers now appear to be mimicking a hunting strategy commonly associated with hyenas. In Vancouver, the list of attacks from raccoons are growing yearly, with advice from local authorities as well as animal experts seemingly unable to avert the alarming trend.

In a Global News report about a raccoon attack against a woman and her dogs in December of last year, Randy Celinski, the owner and president of AAA Wildlife Control, said that the attacking animal was most likely sick, possibly from rabies.

Celinski added, “Raccoons are prone to aggressive behavior during mating season which runs from mid-December to May. There are steps you can take, especially during that period, to ensure you and your pets safety…not to walk near any bushed areas or areas where wild animals may be hiding, whether it be a skunk or a raccoon..If they are approached by a human or a dog, for example, then they may be in more of an attack mode.”

Following the wildlife control expert’s advice could have prevented similar attacks by raccoons in New Jersey and in Henrico, Virginia, the Inquisitr previously reported in two separate articles. In any case, the raccoon in question may be either sick from rabies or startled by a garden visitor. However, for the city of Vancouver, raccoons on the rampage seem to be more and more motivated by a mixture of natural evolution and learned behavior.

Celinski shed’s light on how this development might have come about in the city.

“The primary reason why raccoons are not afraid to approach is residents and tourists feeding them. They become more accustomed to people, not afraid of people and almost looking to people for free handouts.”

This will explain why even during the summer, when the mating season is not the issue for raccoon aggression in Vancouver, raccoons are known to attack humans particularly in Stanley Park in broad daylight. These animals are supposed to be nocturnal creatures, and as such, are usually active during the night. But through an odd mixture of nature and nurture, they have evolved into predators under city conditions or after co-existing with humans in modern times.

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Stanley Park is an approximately 1,000-acre public park and nature conservation area. A frequent traveler managed to track and subsequently detail raccoon movement. Initially, the observer found just one raccoon hiding behind a tree trunk, but within a matter of minutes, their number swelled to around three or four, with each of the animals sneaking up in different areas. The creatures seem to simultaneously track and triangulate their prey with GPS precision. Apparently, the main trigger would be the sighting of a plastic bag being carried by the human visitor.

The worst thing to do when caught in this scenario is to try to grab a seat on one of the park benches nearby. The raccoons are likely to come behind the back of the bench and attempt to snatch the plastic bag on suspicion that there is some food inside. When this happens, basic raccoon instinct takes over.

NHPTV sheds light on this animal behavior.

“The raccoon’s toes are flexible and it is very good at grabbing, pulling things apart and holding things. The raccoon is a very good climber and can go down a tree backwards or face first!”

Hence, it is only a matter of time before an attempt is made to grab the plastic bag from the owner, starting off a wrestling match that can result in scratches and lacerations on the human victim’s face and extremities. When the movie Guardians of the Galaxy recently depicted a raccoon with a violent behavior, the flick hasn’t gone too far.

NHPTV, as well as other nature documentations, may need to be rewritten regarding the raccoon as “mostly nocturnal…solitary, except for mothers and their young.” It is simply just not the case anymore. In keeping with the times, raccoons seem to have evolved into a pack of hyenas stalking their prey.

[Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images]