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Residents Ask City to Get Raccoons Off Their Block Before Mating Season

By Gustavo Solis | December 12, 2014 11:47am
 Raccoons have invaded West 119th Street, residents say.
Raccoons in Harlem
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HARLEM — Residents of a block that’s been overrun by raccoons are asking the city for $1,500 to move the critters out of the neighborhood before mating season begins in January.

A family of four raccoons moved into West 119th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard and Lenox Avenue in August. Since then, they’ve incessantly invaded neighbors' homes, backyards and trash cans, residents said.

The raccoons show no fear toward humans and have learned to lift lids off garbage cans and open screen doors, resident Noreen Dean Dresser said.

“I think they are cute but they become aggressive when they are mating,” she said.

“They can be very protective of their young. We have a lot of small pets, dogs and cats, and small children in our block. There is a tragedy out there waiting to happen.”

The West 119th Street Block Association is asking the city for $1,500 in order to pay professionals to catch the raccoons and release them into the wild. After researching several companies, they've decided to hire NYNJ Wildlife Removal, which has a 90 percent capture rate and charges $375 per trap, according to the proposal.

The city does not respond to complaints about raccoons and Animal Care and Control only steps in if the raccoons are rabid, city spokesman Shaleem Thompson said. 

“We would call 311 but they had no box to check,” Jeanne Nedd, the president of the block association.. “They need to have a raccoon designation.”

Without being able to register a complaint, elected officials didn’t take notice. It wasn’t until DNAinfo reported the raccoon invasion in October that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer stepped in.

Brewer wrote a letter to the Department of Health stating that because “health, safety and welfare of wild animals,” falls under the agency's jurisdiction, it should “remove and relocate these animals,” according to the Borough President’s report to Community Board 10.

The Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Residents said they fear that if the raccoons aren't moved by mating season, It will be more difficult to uproot them.

“They won’t want to leave their Manhattan apartments,” Dresser said.