Unlikely Neighbors? Not Really. What You Need to Know About Raccoons in Your Neighborhood.

May 20, 2020
By Bethany Kloc, SPCA Serving Erie County Communications Manager

With the nice weather finally upon Western New York, have you noticed more raccoons than usual out during the day in your neighborhood? There’s a very logical reason for that.

“In general, just seeing a raccoon during the day is normal — especially now that mothers have their litters of babies. They’re off getting food for them ALL day long,” says SPCA Serving Erie County Wildlife Department Director Barb Haney. “And even though I think we can all appreciate how cute they are, I’d like to impress upon people that under no circumstances should anyone ever touch a raccoon – even baby raccoons. In New York State, once a rabies vector species like a raccoon has had contact with people, for the protection of those people, it must be tested for rabies. This means the raccoon is euthanized to gauge its brain’s infection status. So contact with a raccoon doesn’t only have deadly consequences for the animal, but could lead to the transmission of rabies from the animal to the person who initiated contact.”

With more raccoon sightings in neighborhoods, the SPCA has received more calls than usual about them. On a recent day, SPCA Officer Tyler Robertson said that, after receiving calls for help, members of his department transferred five separate litters of 14 raccoons, and all needed to be euthanized to be tested for rabies.

“Individuals are finding baby raccoons that they erroneously feel need intervention, and they think they’re doing the right thing by handling them to ensure they’re safe. After that, they reach out to the SPCA for assistance. Unfortunately, once the human contact occurs, euthanasia is the only outcome for the animal.”

What should you do if you find a raccoon who looks sick, injured, or orphaned? Officer Robertson recommends, “Leave the animal where it is, contact our Wildlife Department between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at 716-449-0727, and comply with any instruction that is given. By calling ahead of time and speaking with the experts, it will give the animal the best (hopefully live) outcome.” If you have questions between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., please call your local police department and/or animal control department or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

As always, it is important to have your pets up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations. Should you or your pet have contact with a wild animal, including a raccoon, please call the Erie County Health Department at 716-961-6800.