Vancouver raccoon attack prompts warnings
An attack on a woman in Vancouver's West End has experts warning people about getting too close to urban wildlife.
The unidentified woman was bitten repeatedly by a raccoon in August while walking her dog, after she tried to intervene when the two animals began to fight.
She was hospitalized but is now recovering.
Her injuries serve as a reminder of just how dangerous those animals can be, according to Stanley Park conservation manager Robyn Worcester.
"Raccoons in the park do follow people and look for handouts and they do bite people on a regular basis," Worcester told CBC News.
Stanley Park is located in the city's heavily populated West End.
"Unfortunately some of the people who get bitten are tourists," Worcester said. "They see these cute, fluffy, panda bear-looking things and they're tame, they come up to you, and that's when people get bitten."
Raccoons are included among the top four pest complaints, according to Peter Steinfort, owner of Care Pest and Wildlife Control.
"Damage is probably one of the most major complaints," said Steinfort.
Raccoons can get into sheds, home crawlspaces and attics to nest.
Can attack children
"They are also known to go after small pets and in some extreme cases, small children if they feel threatened in any way," said Steinfort.
He said he believes raccoon numbers are on the rise and Worcester estimated there were hundreds living in the city.
The animals usually prefer to run from trouble and will only get aggressive if they're cornered or protecting their young. But with more raccoons around, confrontations are more likely.
Residents are urged not to feed raccoons, not to leave fruit or other food lying around their property and not to provide shelter for them.