Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gangs Of New York

And they're all family. There were three more just below the top steps of a local feeder. On Saturday morning I went to a presentation on urban wildlife by the Field Director on Urban Wildlife, Laura Simon, of the Humane Society of the U.S. The cats weren't the main topic, but what keeps them going also keeps the raccoons, possums, pigeons, squirrels, and rats a coming. 

Tips for keeping wildlife at bay:
  • Don't feed the wildlife.
  • If you do feed feral cats, watch them eat and then remove the tray.
  • Keep your trash in a tight-lidded container. 
  • If your sanitation worker dislikes your trash container, so would a raccoon.
  • Keep your home well maintained, sealing up all points of entry.

Notes on wildlife diseases:
  • Raccoons carry rabies. 
  • Actual cases transferred to humans in urban areas is low.
  • Only 3 deaths per year, nationally.
  • If you are bit by a raccoon or other wild animal, get the vaccine immediately. 
  • There is no blood test for rabies, and showing symptoms means it's too late for you.
  • Raccoon Roundworm can be deadly -you could get it from raccoon poop.
  • Raccoons poop just like cats -in a hidden spot in the garden.
  • Keep your hands away from your mouth while gardening -this means no fresh beans until washed up!
  • Ensure that children wash; check play areas for poop.
  • Possums have a natural rabies resistance, are highly unlikely to attack or bite, and should be of little concern.

Other notes:
  • Raccoons don't chew wood or wires. 
  • They enter homes through obvious openings.
  • A raccoon may have young in its nest, so be aware before you seal up any entry points. 
  • If you see one trapped in a dumpster, leave a branch or piece of wood so it can climb out. 
  • Raccoons can't jump.
  • If you see a possum in a garbage pail, tip it over and leave it be -it will leave after you do.
  • Possums are ugly but cause no harm.

Raccoons and Opossum are omnivores, eating many insects and mice. But not if we feed them so much. Truth be told, it's not the squirrels, raccoons, opossums, or even rats that are the problem -mostly its us feeding them inadvertently or intentionally. As it turns out, the city is as gracious to smart animals as it is to smart people.


  1. Oh my goodness, that is a lot of feral cats! When I used to live in Greenpoint, I'd see at least 1 feral cat a day. It's really a problem in the city.

  2. There were 8 in that one location!

  3. I've never seen this many cats in one spot before! When it snows like this, I hope they find some shelter from the cold.


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