New bill would have city paying to trap raccoons

New bill would have city paying to trap raccoons
Photo by Aaron Brashear

Brownstone Brooklyn lawmakers are jumping all over a plan to add bite to the city’s toothless stance on raccoons.

Prompted by increasing reports of the critters wreaking havoc everywhere but Manhattan, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D–Queens) introduced a bill that would shift the burden of removing — and safely relocating — nuisance raccoons from homeowners to the Department of Health, which currently has no policy to deal with ’coons.

Removal costs — which can run $250 — are a homeowner’s problem.

And that’s just not fair, according to Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope), who signed on in support of the bill.

“Some people have the means to do so, but plenty of people can’t afford it,” Lander said. “And you don’t know if a trapper will treat the animal humanely.”

Lander said the bill is good for man, woman and beast alike.

“This bill would trap them and put them in a more appropriate location, as opposed to encouraging people to resort to their own methods, which are often cheaper and can be less humane,” he added.

Other Brooklyn bill supporters include Councilmembers Sara González (D–Red Hook), Letitia James (D–Fort Greene), Al Vann (D–Bedford Stuyvesant), David Greenfield (D–Boro Park), and Michael Nelson (D–Sheepshead Bay).

Brooklynites have tried all sorts of things to keep the critters out. One Greenwood Heights couple even installed an electrified fence around their garden.

Nobody loves these varmints, though they are cute.
The Brooklyn Paper / Tom Callan

But supporters said the bill’s passage could lead to less shocking measures.

“This would be a balance between a respect for wildlife and keeping families safe,” Lander said.

Aaron Brashear, a founding member of the Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights, knows about the high cost of dealing with the masked bandits — he’s already spent $1,000 trapping four raccoons over a two-week period this summer.

But he recently made a startling discovery: eight new raccoons have taken up residence in and around his home.

“I don’t have $5,000 or $10,000 to spend on trappers,” he said.

But his problem could very well come the city’s problem, at least indirectly. “If I have to keep spending my time, effort and money, I’m going to be bankrupt soon, so I won’t have to worry about taxes,” Brashear warned.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the agency does not comment on pending legislation. If an animal poses a danger, residents are advised to call 911.

The bill is currently awaiting a hearing in the Council’s Health Committee.

Behind bars: Trapping the masked varmints is a costly operation — but one that could become a city responsibility if a Council bill passes.
Photo by Aaron Brashear