Efforts to limit the population of raccoons in Limburg have resulted in two of the animals being caught, with around 150 to go, local broadcaster 1Limburg reports.
The raccoons were originally brought to Europe from North America to be bred for their pelts and kept as pets. Many of the animals escaped and made their home in the wild.
Raccoons not only damage the natural environment. They can also pose a threat to chickens and rabbits kept in people’s gardens and they have been known to climb into homes via the chimney. Some raccoons also carry a type of worm that can make people ill.
‘In Maastricht a woman who wanted to save her rabbit from a raccoon was bitten, Maurice La Haye of the Zoogdierenvereniging told broadcaster NOS. The organisation, which was given the task of catching the animals, is luring them into the cages by using sardines whose pungent smell is said to attract raccoons.
The province originally wanted a cull in line with a European directive which seeks the eradication of invasive species in Europe which might pose a threat to native populations. However, some 28,000 people signed a petition to reject the cull and the plan is now to catch the animals, castrate or sterilise them and transfer them to zoos.
Stichting AAP, a charity which rehabilitates exotic animals, will find new homes for the raccoons. ‘We will place them together in groups as much as possible in shelters where they can live out the rest of their lives in peace,’ Stichting AAP director David van Gennip said. The organisation has room for around 50 animals to start with.
Limburg has the biggest population of raccoons but the animals have also been spotted in Noord Brabant, Gelderland and Noord-Holland.
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