Residents on Gravier Street in New Orleans are keeping their children and pets indoors, after more than a dozen raccoons suddenly turned aggressive. Drusilla Harry has faced raccoons on her porch, in her yard and chasing after her adult children near her home. “They just come up unexpectedly, and they'll start coming after you,” Harry said. “And thankfully, the people they have tried to attack were able to get out the way.” From his front porch on the next block, Gerald Williams is also keeping a close eye. He said his backyard and alley are now off limits because they are popular paths for raccoons.
“My grandchildren can’t go play back there because I’m so scared the raccoons might come from the other side over there and come over here and bite one of them. And they'll stand up and fight you,” Williams said.
They said the raccoons have been in the neighbourhood since Hurricane Katrina, but just this weekend, about 16 of the animals turned aggressive.
“We spoke to SPCA, (who) referred us to Wildlife and Fisheries and they referred us to people that want you to pay,” Harry said.
Elizabeth Taylor says her neighbour hired a private nuisance wildlife control agent months ago, before the animals became aggressive.
“My neighbour hustled up about $300 to pay him,” Taylor said.
“He came like about three or four times; reset the traps. He caught about four or five raccoons and one opossum and never came back. Now the raccoons are running crazy.”
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said it does not remove healthy populations of wild animals, but will call residents on Gravier Street directly to evaluate the health of the raccoon population.
Blight is a big problem on the street contributing to the animal infestation. Mattresses and trash bags started piling up there in March. Residents said since then, it has become a dumping ground, picked through by raccoons. They said many of the animals live in a crumbling home that has been vacant for 11 years.
Several residents said they have called the city, but have got no response.
Hayne Rainey, press secretary for Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s office, said the home where most of the animals live was first inspected on June 30 and declared in imminent danger of collapse. The structure will be torn down, but Rainey said the city is still working on a plan to clear trees in front of the home from power lines, before the demolition can begin.
He said road construction has complicated trash pickup on Gravier Street, but said a large dump will be removed this week. Rainey also said the city is concerned about the reports of aggressive raccoons and hopes removing the house and trash will help reduce the number of wild animals living there. He said city workers will determine how to remove any of the aggressive animals.