Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley Addresses Influx of Raccoons
It will come as no surprise to many New Yorkers that we share this concrete jungle with a growing number of wild animals. The media has widely reported on raccoons in backyards, coyotes in parking lots and skunks in trashcans. How does the City address the relationship between all its inhabitants – humans and animals alike?
Most commonly, the City has dealt with its wild animal populations through euthanasia. Last July, the City gassed 400 Canadian geese in an effort to clear the flight paths of La Guardia and Kennedy Airports. But only a month later, the New York Times reported that the geese population has risen back up to nearly 25 percent of the population before the mass kill.
One reason for the increasing number of wild animals is the push and development of more parks throughout the five boroughs. Animals smell their way into New Yorker’s backyards to feast on food left outside in trashcans. The urban critters may seem like cute little bandits but they can be unsanitary, startling and a big nuisance for New Yorkers.
However, as our city continues to grow and as we continue to develop more parks we will continue to encounter more wild animals. How we treat our neighbors, including our wildlife, is a reflection of our own dignity and self-respect. New York City needs to adopt a humane policy on how to address wildlife living in our neighborhoods.
Last year, I introduced a bill that calls on the Department of Health to promptly and humanely relocate raccoons when requested by a resident. Currently, there is no city policy assigned to deal with raccoons in New Yorker’s backyards. However, there has been a citywide increase in documented raccoon issues, especially in the outer boroughs.
My new bill is putting the wildlife control issue on the table for discussion and we are beginning with raccoons. I am not an expert on how to deal with wild animals. That is why it is so important to officially bring this issue to the table to bring together the City Council, city agencies and wildlife organizations to reach a practical, humane and effective solution.