A raccoon appears to have moved into a 100 Mile House trailer park.
The masked bandit was caught on a trail cam by Brian Brown, manager of the Travellers Mobile Home Park, behind his shop on Nov. 27. He noticed the nocturnal visit after his tripod, used to capture other wildlife like foxes, had been knocked over.
“I heard prior to that from some friends up on 8th Street that a raccoon had been coming to their patio door,” Brown said. “I sort of questioned that because I’ve never seen raccoons around here. I thought maybe it might have been a badger.”
The image, however, proved his friends right. Since then, other residents have posted images of pawprints on social media, with some suggesting they belong to raccoons.
The discovery is not surprising to Emily Blythe, a B.C. wildlife biologist based in Williams Lake, who said raccoons are expanding their territory beyond their usual habitats on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. They can now be found in the Okanagan, Shuswap and even Prince George. Blythe attributes the expansion to a milder climate as well as an expanding agricultural and human footprint across B.C., which has provided raccoons with more opportunities for easily accessible food and shelter.
“I’m really not surprised you’re seeing them in the Cariboo, in 100 Mile,” she said, noting people may not have noticed them before as they are usually nocturnal animals. “As seasons change and the winters are shorter and less harsh, it makes life easier for them too. I think they’ve been creeping their way northward for quite a while.”
Younger males often travel in the spring along river corridors, she said, but raccoons have also been known to hitch a lift on logging trucks. “That’s been recorded in Ontario so it’s not impossible,” she said.
Brown said he suspects the raccoons are attracted to the trailer park because a lot of the seniors at the trailer park leave out food for stray cats. Some of the trailers are also older, with space underneath for raccoons to stay warm and dry. “It’s an easy place for them to get in out of the cold,” he said.
Blythe said people should not leave out bird or cat food, and lock up their garbage, to avoid attracting raccoons to the area. Raccoons are predatory to nesting birds, such as songbirds and waterfowl, she said. They can also get aggressive and less dependent on themselves if they are being fed by humans. Residents should also be careful when handling any raccoon scat.
Karl Larsen, a professor of natural resource sciences at Thompson Rivers University, said raccoons don’t pose a threat to humans but are adept at living among them.
“They’re one of the species that do really well in an urban environment,” he said. “As we increase that presence they’re going to grab onto it.”