The City of Montreal has decided to crack down on people feeding raccoons on Mount Royal after a three-year awareness campaign has proven unsuccessful at getting nature lovers to ignore the animals.
The city is imposing a $100 financial penalty to those caught feeding the animals. The fine could increase to $1,000 for repeat offenders.
Gabrielle Korn, spokeswoman for Friends of the Mountain –- an organization that patrols the mountain – said the animals have become so familiar with humans that they could present a risk for people.
"They will come right up to you and put their claws on your legs," said Korn.
She added that the creatures can be unpredictable and sometimes aggressive. The raccoons have developed obesity because of the feeding, and some have lost their instincts to hunt and gather their own food.
The city said it is also concerned with the spread of rabies and other diseases despite the effort to vaccinate raccoons.
Videos posted on YouTube show the nocturnal animal coming up to humans on the mountain in broad daylight with little fear.
In May, officials estimated that there well over a hundred raccoons per square kilometre on the mountain. This is in contrast to the 30 to 40 animals per square kilometre in other city spaces.