The raccoon has been back in Limburg since 2018. There are too many uninvited guests, the shelter at the AAP is full and the animals may be harmful to nature and public health. That’s why on Tuesday the province of Limburg allowed the animal to be shot, but according to biologist Jaap Mulder, this “wipes the tap open.”
“In Germany, 200,000 raccoons are shot every year, and this has no effect,” says the predator specialist. , raccoons continue to breed and spread, from Belgium and Germany they enter the Netherlands again. Shooting raccoons increases the chances of surviving their young (three or four per year), so the population will remain the same. To combat breeding, fishermen in Germany will have to make six times the effort. ”
European rules oblige provinces to fight raccoons. At the end of 2017, there were approximately fifty to a hundred raccoons created in Limburg, mainly around Sittard and Maastricht. Of that number, the AAP can take care of 95 raccoons, but there is no longer room for dozens of stray raccoons. Presumably, the animals escaped from theme parks, were kept as pets and released, or crossed the Limburg border (en masse) from Wallonia, so extensive shelter is no longer an option, according to the county. Surrounding areas are required to prevent the influx of raccoons into Limburg.
Shooting raccoons increases the chances of survival of their young, so the population will remain the same
harmless to nature
The raccoon is native to North and South America, but is now also found in Germany, Wallonia, northern France and Limburg. The ‘invasive alien’ may pose a threat to native species such as breeding birds, amphibians, small mammals and bats in hibernation. “This is nonsense,” says Jaap Mulder, a biologist. He has been hunting for predators for forty years and gives advice on how to deal with this species.
“So far there is absolutely no scientific evidence that raccoons are harmful to nature, even if you look at the Ardennes, northern France and Germany, where raccoons have lived since World War II. The raccoon is not a hunter, but a carnivore. The numbers of prey eaten by raccoons do not decrease. So The raccoon poses no threat to nature. At most only in the islands, where the raccoon comes to swim and can chase the colonies of birds that were safe there from the fox.”
There is no threat to public health
In the whole of the Netherlands, it will take 100 years before we get a single death. Statistically, the odds of winning the lottery are higher
In addition, raccoons are often infected with certain types of roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis), whose eggs spread through dung and fur, and can end up in the body via the hands and mouth. The parasite usually does not cause any symptoms in raccoons. In humans, most worm infections are asymptomatic, but in rare cases the infection can cause serious (neurological) complaints.
However, the raccoon does not pose a public health risk. “It’s a serendipitous argument,” Mulder says. It is used over and over again. In the past 50 years, 30 of the 300 million people in North America have been infected, and six have died. This means that it will take 100 years across the Netherlands before we get a single death. Statistically, the odds of winning the lottery are higher.”
According to Mulder, harboring a raccoon is a bad thing. “The animals are collected and sterilized,” explains the biologist. Then they are shown to zoos. This means that the wild animals are sentenced to life imprisonment, and then the county can shoot them better. And contraceptives never work with wild animals. It costs more than you earn.”
“At the end of the day, no one wants to add exotic animals, but once there is a population, we have to learn to live with it. A good risk analysis needs to be done and action should only be taken from there if the raccoon population is a real problem.”
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