Racoons are proliferating in the southern province of Limburg, regional newspaper the Limburger reported on Monday.
Mutliple sightings of raccoons have been reported around the province. The increase is thought to be down to escaped animals and animals that have been released into the wild but experts don’t rule out raccoons are migrating from Belgium and Germany, the paper said.
Their arrival has met with some alarm: according to the product safety board NWVA, the animals carry parasites which, in rare instances, can cause serious neurological complaints in people. They also do damage to homes and agriculture.
The racoon, which was introduced in Europe from North America for its valuable pelt, is on a list of so-called ‘invasive exotic species’ and subject to a European guideline which says it should be eradicated or kept in check.
According to German figures the number of raccoons in Germany has grown from some 20,000 to 100,000 in the space of 10 years.
Experts at Wageningen environmental research department Alterra are now calling for a plan of action. Although there are no signs as yet that a significant number of raccoons are settling here permanently, it will just be a question of time before they do, Alterra warns.
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