Calgary

Raccoon in Banff eludes Parks Canada staff

A raccoon has been spotted in the townsite, but staff have been unable to catch the critter. The agency has been tracking the animal on remote cameras since being notified last week.

The animal is not native to the park and could cause problems for the local ecosystem

A raccoon, like the one pictured here, has been roaming the Banff townsite, eluding capture. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)

Parks Canada is on the hunt for an unwanted and elusive visitor to Banff.

A raccoon has been spotted in the townsite, but staff have been unable to catch the critter. The agency has been tracking the animal on remote cameras since being notified last week. 

The problem, according to Parks Canada, is the raccoon is not a native species and could cause damage to the ecosystem. 

Wildlife ecologist Jesse Whittington says raccoons prey on birds nests and don't feed on the natural vegetation. He said it's not common for the animals to end up in the mountain town.

"This raccoon had rolled through the eastern side of Banff by Cascade Ponds, subsequently went into the Banff townsite," Whittington said. 

Euthanization

The agency has set live traps and if the raccoon is caught, they'll have to euthanize it.

"We looked at other options such as translocating it to other parts of Alberta but that was not an appealing option for other agencies, in part because anytime you're translocating animals, there's risk of transmitting disease as well," said Whittington.

"We hate to remove animals from the ecosystem, they're all living animals. But in this case we think it is necessary because it can have such negative effects on the ecosystem." 

Raccoons are most commonly found in the southeast region of the province. 

With files from Terri Trembath

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