One Popular Park’s Surging Raccoon Population Is Causing Numerous Problems, And Humans Are To Blame
The country of Canada contains many beautiful natural landmarks that have long attracted tourists from all over the world. One of the most picturesque regions in the Great While North is called Mount Royal Park. This park is located within the city of Montreal in Quebec, and it contains numerous hiking trails, and a stunning view of Park Avenue in downtown Montreal as well as Olympic Stadium. The five hundred acre forested area within the park is home to a tremendous diversity of wildlife. In order to preserve the beauty of the region as well as the diversity of the native wildlife, the entire park is legally protected as a green space. Unfortunately, during the past decade, the vast number of tourists visiting the park have caused the raccoon population to surge. This increase in the park’s raccoon population poses both environmental and public health issues in Montreal. The raccoon population has increased dramatically in the region solely because tourists regularly feed the critters.
In 2010, tourism and destination guides for Mount Royal Park began encouraging visitors to bring food in order to feed the native raccoons that dwell within the park. According to Jacques Dancosse, a veterinarian and researcher at the Biodôme of Montreal, the habit of feeding wildlife in Mount Royal has resulted in raccoons becoming less fearful and more comfortable around humans. Now hungry raccoons expect food from every human they see, which has led to a dangerous situation for tourists. It is not uncommon for people to become surrounded by up to 50 individual raccoons within the park. Several Youtube videos show these intense encounters and some videos even show raccoons snatching food out of tourist’s hands. The liberal feeding of raccoons by tourists has also caused some raccoons to become obese and many have even developed cavities. During 2012, a disease outbreak killed off much of the raccoon population in the park, and this could probably have been avoided had the raccoon population not grown to a size that allowed for the easy transmission of disease. Park rangers are applying coyote urine and placing coyote soundtracks around the park with the hope that doing so will keep the raccoons from wandering toward tourists. In an effort to discourage people from feeding the raccoons, park rangers are stressing the negative impact that this activity has on the health of the region’s raccoons as opposed to the negative consequences for humans. The former approach has proven more effective than the latter at deterring tourists from feeding the park’s raccoons.
Do you make it a rule to avoid providing an easy food source for wildlife?