Rogue raccoon who hitched into Banff captured and killed
'We believe this one must have hitchhiked a ride on either a vehicle or train or something like that'
A rogue raccoon that had been spotted in and around the town of Banff, Alta. in recent months is no more.
The animal was trapped and killed "humanely" on Friday, said Bill Hunt, Parks Canada resource conservation manager for the Banff field unit.
The raccoon was first seen Aug. 26 by a remote camera set up near Mount Norquay, west of Calgary, then again Sept. 19 on another trail camera near Cascade Ponds, just outside the Banff townsite.
It was then seen a handful of times in and around the townsite between Oct. 14 and Nov. 28, and on Dec. 4 it made an appearance at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.
And while visitors and those living in Banff might see raccoons as delightful and mischievous creatures, conservation officials consider them invasive.
"We believe this one must have hitchhiked a ride on either a vehicle or train or something like that," said Hunt.
"Either in a commercial load or somehow got in a pickup truck."
The trouble, said Hunt, is the fact they're not native to this area, instead preferring a warmer climate found around the Vancouver region in southwestern B.C.
They've also been spotted around Medicine Hat and have made their way into central Alberta in recent years.
"The whole ecological integrity of Banff National Park can be affected by non-native species," said Hunt.
"And the reason is non-native species don't fit into the food web."
Along with the potential for carrying disease, Hunt said the raccoon could attract predators into town.
"I'm guessing it would find refuge somewhere but they don't naturally occur here and they're not well suited to this kind of climate," he said.
"The habitats they do live in, like Vancouver, are certainly a lot warmer."
The raccoon was shot after being trapped near the Cave and Basin site, said Hunt, as the province does not allow them to be relocated or released here.
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