Raccoon boom! City must start trapping vermin, Greenwood residents say

Raccoon boom! City must start trapping vermin, Greenwood residents say
Courtesy Aaron Brashear

Greenwood Heights residents say the raccoon population in their neighborhood is growing so quickly that the city must alter its vermin policy and begin trapping and removing the trash-pillaging critters.

The number of raccoons has surged near Prospect Park and Green-Wood Cemetery due to a warm spring, according to neighbors who say the masked bandits topple garbage cans, dent property, and break into homes in search of snacks.

But Brooklynites who are angry about the infestation must trap the creatures themselves — or spend hundreds of dollars hiring a private company — because Animal Care & Control, a non-profit working under a city contract, refuses to remove raccoons unless they are deemed dangerous, sick, or hurt.

That’s why concerned Greenwoodsmen have launched a letter-writing campaign urging City Council to change the city’s critter protocol to require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to trap raccoons.

“You go outside expecting to see one — and there’s a family of five or six,” said neighbor Aaron Brashear. “They’re beyond a nuisance.”

He said the aggressive urban critters spread trash across entire blocks and leave behind piles of poop that host parasitic roundworms.

Neighbors have tried everything to get rid of the clever creatures: double-bagging garbage cans, buying electric fences, and using expensive pest sprays.

“These suckers are smart — smart to the point where we’ve had to buy all new trash cans with locking lids because they’ve figure out how to use their ‘hands’ to open the lids,” said neighbor Ryan Powers.

Another neighbor, Frances Batista, said the animals wake her up at 3:30 am and once managed to knock over a heavy planter.

“We need some sort of control,” she said.

They hope to see it in the form of a Department of Health and Mental Hygiene task force that would trap and release the raccoons.

It’s not the first time neighbors have sought a raccoon-related policy change. Last summer, state Sen. Tony Avella (D–Queens) introduced legislation requiring the same city agency “to remove any raccoon upon request from a member of the public” — but the bill has sat in limbo for over a year.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday — but an agency source previously told The Brooklyn Paper that if a resident “considers a raccoon on their property to be a nuisance, they should contact a licensed private trapper to remove it,” or call 911 if the animal appears dangerous.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at noneill@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.