Toronto police have arrested a man whose neighbour alleges was trying to kill baby raccoons in his backyard with a shovel.

CBC Documentary: Raccoon Nation

Click here to watch The Nature of Things documentary Raccoon Nation, which explores the growing conflict between people and raccoons in urban areas.

Police were called shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday by a neighbour on Rankin Crescent, near Symington Avenue and Bloor Street West just west of downtown Toronto.

The neighbour alleged the man used a shovel to repeatedly hit what appeared to be family of raccoons, Const. Victor Kwong said.

"It's alleged now that this man was striking the baby raccoons while the mother raccoon — we assume it is the mother raccoon — was sitting there watching and trying to go in every second to scoop them out one by one," he said.

Dong Nguyen, 53, has been charged with cruelty to animals and possessing a dangerous weapon.

He is scheduled to appear in court on July 13.

Sgt. Chad Nicolle, who was on the scene at the time of the arrest, said police have been unable to find all of the baby raccoons, also known as kits. The mother had already moved the kits away from the area by the time police arrived, he said.

"We were able to find one of the injured animals. It's a baby raccoon. Animal services has already come and treated the animal," said Nicolle.

The neighbour alleged the man had engaged in similar behaviour in the past.

It's believed the man was frustrated with the damage raccoons were causing in his garden.  

Killing a raccoon is illegal in Toronto. The city's animal control department will only get involved if the animal is injured, sick or dead.  

Coyote urine an effective repellent

That has frustrated homeowners looking for ways to deter raccoons from getting into their garbage and homes.

Paul Oliver, a co-owner of the Urban Nature Store, told CBC News some are turning to coyote urine.

"The animals are very sensitive to being in areas where they think predators are around and so it’s very effective. Raccoons are very smart animals, so they learn very quickly when there’s a predator around so they learn to stay away."

Other suggestions included motion sensor sprinklers to scare off raccoons with a blast of water.