Death of a raccoon

Relax, not that raccoon.

But that raccoon got me exploring to find out whether raccoons have ever been elevated to the lofty status of NewsCut.

Yep. Twice.

Return with us now to July 2015, when Toronto made it cool to stop what you’re doing to give a damn about a raccoon before dropping what you’re doing to give a damn about a raccoon was cool.

We love you so very much, Internet.

In Toronto, authorities were slow to pick up a dead racoon. So people started creating a memorial to it, and created a hashtag on Twitter — #deadraccoonTO — to honor it.

Jason Wager got things started when he called animal control.

Someone placed a single red rose, and as the hours of neglect mounted, so did the size of the memorial to “Conrad.”

Night fell and candles were lit.

And then Conrad was picked up by a city worker, thrown in a plastic trash bag, and removed.

But his memory shall live on.

A Toronto city councillor summed up the mood of his city.

NewsCut and raccoons had an earlier relationship. In 2010, former MPR’er and occasional NewsCut fill-in David Cazares exercised a tried-and-true way to feed the blog beast: think of a word, find news about it.

Here’s one way to generate an idea for a blog post: Enter the first word that pops into your mind into Google News. For reasons I care not to examine deeply, the word today was “raccoon.” So, let’s look at raccoons-in-the-news, shall we?


In Alameda, California this week, raccoons descended upon a woman walking her dog in a park. Excerpt:

An Alameda woman was receiving rabies shots as a precaution after being attacked by five raccoons over the weekend during an ordeal she described as like something out of a horror movie.

The Sunday night raccoon attack in Alameda’s Washington Park was not the first such incident, according to wildlife officials.

The attack on Rachel Campos was the ninth since June and the worst so far as the victim found herself fighting off five raccoons while she walked her dog.

“I knew it was a bite, but I don’t remember pain,” remembered Campos. “I was just screaming bloody murder: ‘Help me! Help me! Help me!'”

In Kentucky yesterday, a driver flipped his car trying to avoid a raccoon, sending two adults and one child to the hospital.

Raccoons have taken up residence in a posh Staten Island neighborhood.

Last week, raccoons mauled a north Georgia infant:

Raccoon attacks are rarer than this Google News search makes them look. According to the Wikipedia entry on raccoons, “Serious attacks on humans by groups of non-rabid raccoons are extremely rare and are almost always the result of the raccoon feeling threatened…” And says the Minnesota DNR:

Although rabies is quite rare in raccoons in Minnesota, no bite by a wild carnivore should be ignored. Raccoons are normally not aggressive, but will defend themselves if captured or cornered. If you are bitten by a raccoon, every attempt should be made to capture or kill it (without damage to the head) so that it can be tested for rabies by the Minnesota Department of Health. Medical treatment and advice should also be sought.

Here are some raccoon-related things you may not know:

1. Estes Kefauver often wore a coonskin hat during his 1948 campaign for U.S. Senate.

2. The first edition of Joy of Cooking included a raccoon recipe.

3. Dakota people believed raccoons had spirit power.

4. Due to intentional and unintentional acts, the North American native raccoons are now spread across much of Europe and Asia.

5. Bobcats, coyotes, and owls are among the top raccoon predators.

  • PaulK
  • MrE85
    • I’m feeling a little guilty about spending a fleeting moment glancing at the raccoon yesterday and then driving past a person with a broken down car by the side of Highway 52.

  • Guest

    Why do we humans have the capacity to CARE about one animal with more time and attention than other humans?

    • Not covered by any news organization yesterday were the millions of people who go to work each day and do just that.

    • Jim in RF

      It is weird. I think I’m a decent-enough person who puts a lot of time and resources into helping others, but I got caught up in it too. Crowds are funny. If it happened daily I certainly wouldn’t, though, and don’t ask what happened to the squirrels I caught in my shop.

      • Kellpa07

        In other words, you’re a decent, normal person. There is no sin nor shame in temporarily being entertained by something goofy or unusual. We could all keep saying “why aren’t you paying attention to the issue I think is important” or we could allow others to enjoy a moment or two without scolding.

    • Jeff C.

      I sometimes think about that while I’m working in my garden in the evening. Why am I working in my garden instead of volunteering at a homeless shelter? Why am I caring more about these plants when there are people who need help? And then I decide that it is about balance. I work somewhere that helps make the world a better place. I try to show some care and compassion to strangers at times – but I don’t stop and help everyone who I see who needs help. My flowers bring some joy to some of the people walking past them. We need to help and care about humans, but it is OK to sometimes not care about them and to care about animals, plants, the environment and/or one’s self. The important thing is finding the right balance. You shouldn’t care about yourself all the time and you shouldn’t care about others (and never yourself) all the time either. At least that’s what I think.

      • I have the same thought every Monday morning, when the great Mike Dougherty (formerly of the Rochester Post Bulletin and now MNDot) writes about his Sunday night volunteer work at the homeless shelter.

        I just turned 64 and I am constantly nagged not by the prospect of mortality, but by the feeling that I am running out of time to make any kind of a difference.

        • Jack

          You have made a difference with this blog – don’t overlook that.

          You challenge us with topics that make us look inside ourselves. You lift our spirits on tough days. You’ve created a community.

          Thank you!

  • AL287

    Raccoons always wash their food before eating it.

    My maternal grandfather from Louisiana used to set out sugar cubes and a pan of water and then sit back and watch the show.

    The sugar cubes would fall apart and the raccoons would circle the pan of water wondering where their snack went. They would continue to wash the sugar cubes until every last one was gone.

    He did put out food preparation scraps for them, too on occasion so they didn’t get totally frustrated.

    Raccoons are champs at opening lidded metal garbage cans, too and making an ungodly mess.

    • merry_rose

      My mom had a coworker who had a raccoon she’d rescued when he was just a kit. She named him Wuffle because that was the sound he made when he ate his oatmeal and fruit. She did give a sugar cube once to see if he’d wash it. He did and looked very confused and disappointed when it went away. He made her help him look for it in the water bowl. She made up for it by giving him a treat he could wash.

  • Jim in RF

    Waiting for The Athletic to do a foot-by-foot synopsis of Rocky’s tendencies, and how they could be improved with modern analytics.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz
  • Rob

    Has social media settled on a name for this intrepid critter?

  • Al

    I’m actually quite relieved to get a reprieve from #MPRraccoon over here on NewsCut.

  • Ben Chorn
  • Ben Chorn