Are raccoons multiplying on LBK?
Residents still want town to address what they say are rampant raccoons.
Many residents have written the town distressed about the growing number of raccoons. From the Village to Emerald Harbor to the Centre Shops, citizens have been concerned for weeks about these pesky critters, which seem to be running amok on Longboat Key. And now residents want to know what the town is going to do about it.
Town Manager Bruce St. Denis has maintained that Sarasota and Manatee counties are the agencies responsible for the removal of raccoons, although he acknowledges Manatee County no longer traps or relocates raccoons, as traps loaned to residents were not always returned. St. Denis did say that many feed or home improvement stores will sell or rent animal traps. He also said Manatee County now refers animal complaint calls to Florida Fish and Wildlife.
However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) does not usually remove nuisance animals unless the animals are injured, according to its Web site. The FWC also explains that individual homeowners can trap certain animals themselves, although the animal must be a member of a non-game, non-listed, non-native and otherwise non-protected wildlife species.
“With the exception of trapping protected wildlife (for example, alligators), the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does not require commercial nuisance wildlife trappers to register services. Additionally, a property owner does not need a permit to exclude or trap nuisance wildlife as long as it is a non-game, non-listed and otherwise non-protected species…In part, the rule, FAC 68A-9.010, states that live-captured nuisance wildlife can be moved only to euthanize it, or the animal can be released alive on site. FWC prohibits inhumane treatment of animals. Euthanasia guidelines can be found on the Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia,” states the FWC Web site.
At the Nov. 18 workshop, the Town Commission discussed the possibility of adding an ordinance that would regulate the removal of raccoons, similar to the ordinance governing peacock removal, but no action was taken. The commission determined that the town would not take on the additional responsibility of removing raccoons or other island pests. The town has an ordinance that entails limiting the number of peacocks in the Village to 12, and the town has an agreement with the Village Association to help reimburse them for the cost of the removal of the birds.
Commissioners added that their respective homeowners’ associations pay for the cost of removal of any pests such as raccoons.
Barbara and Peter Schmidt of Evergreen Way, just south of Spanish Main Yacht Club, recently e-mailed the town expressing their thoughts on the raccoon problem. They stated they have been coming to Longboat Key for 12 years, and that this year the raccoons are worse than they’ve ever been. They also wrote of a proliferation of raccoon droppings and were concerned about the diseases the animals carry.
Emerald Harbor resident Weldon Frost also wrote the town regarding the raccoons and was unhappy with what he termed the town’s “inaction” regarding the large raccoon population in his neighborhood.
“It is time for the town to eliminate, eradicate, re-settle, remove, transport or export these creatures, who are both a nuisance and a menace. They are a nuisance because of the messes they make and the piles of manure they leave behind. They are a menace because of the diseases they carry—not necessarily limited to rabies. We don’t need raccoons on this island. Period,” wrote Frost in an e-mail to St. Denis.
According to the National Park Service Web site, raccoons in the wild will live approximately three to eight years, with litters of one to seven cubs being born in the late spring. The animals are omnivorous, eating anything including fish, frogs, insects, eggs, mice, fruit, berries, nuts, plants in a garden and any type of food left outside in garbage.
Both the National Park Service and National Geographic Web sites recognize that raccoons are highly intelligent and are very curious and clever. Their almost hand-like front paws and long, thin mobile fingers make raccoons agile climbers that can learn to open jars, cans and latches, turn on faucets, untie knots and even turn doorknobs. Raccoons will often choose to live in tree holes, fallen logs and occasionally a house’s attic or other crawlspace.
Raccoons carry several diseases transmittable to humans including rabies, roundworm, leptospirosis and distemper.