A Fed Animal Is A Dead Animal – August 10, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

ARCATA MARSH –This and last week’s Police Log included a series of items about a friendly raccoon at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The raccoon’s natural fear of humans had been overcome by positive food interactions with people at the South I Street parking lot.

“She was wary at first, then became habituated,” said Park Ranger David Miller.

He and Ranger Kevin Stonebarger had responded a number of times to the Marsh on the report of an animal approaching and even chasing cars at the Marsh. The raccoon didn’t look sick, but it was out in the daytime, begging for tidbits.

Miller said the raccoon obtained easy meals two ways: from people leaving food and even feeding the cute creature directly. As experienced wildlife managers know, that kind of  kindness can spell doom for a wild animal, be it raccoon, deer or bear.

“A fed animal is a dead animal,” Miller said.

On Friday, July 16 at 1:49 p.m. a woman called from her car at the Marsh. The “friendly” raccoon had trapped her inside.

“When I got there it was paws-up on the car,” Miller said. Having gone from friendly to a nuisance to scary, the raccoon was on an ascending arc of aggression. It was dispatched using a light birdshot round APD officers carry for that situation.

Taking out troubled and troublesome animals is a duty Miller would be perfectly happy never to have to repeat. So his advice is not to fall for the seemingly hungry looks of adorable animals at the Marsh or in the woods. No matter what they might tell you, they’re doing perfectly well on their own.

“The people who feed them think they’re doing a good thing,” Miller said. “But just because they’re cute, you don’t have to feed them.”

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