By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – Raccoons are becoming a serious problem in the city, resident Don Clinton told the city council at its July 5 meeting, and he is worried that children will get bitten.
“They are a nuisance, and they are coming out during the daytime,” Clinton said of the normally nocturnal animals.
Police Lt. Robert Kennaley said the Department of Natural Resources has recently changed its regulations, and trapping wild animals is restricted and illegal under most circumstances.
“If they are out in the daytime, and they are rabid, and can’t get food, and they are all over the neighborhood, it is not safe for kids to be out there,” Clinton said.
“Our hands are tied,” Kennaley said. “It is something that the DNR has come up with. What they are doing is protecting the wild animals.”
“I understand that,” Clinton said. “But they don’t live here. You’ve got kids that are out of school for the summer now, and when (raccoons) start going out in the daytime, that is when they become rabid, because they cannot get food.”
“If they become rabid, then you call us and we will take care of things,” Kennaley said.
Clinton said he talked to a city ordinance official who told him the DNR said raccoons could not be trapped.
“To me, that’s wrong,” Clinton said.
Councilman Carl Louvet said he contacted the DNR, which told him no animals can be live trapped unless they are inside a dwelling. But before you trap them, you have to get a permit from the DNR, which he said has a lengthy application.
“It was like 30 pages long that they wanted you to fill out in order for you to trap the skunk that is in your garage or something,” Louvet said. “It was ridiculous.”
Signs of rabies in a raccoon include unexplained aggression or lethargy, disorientation, and being unaware of noises that would otherwise startle it.
For more information about DNR wildlife damage and nuisance control permits, go to: michigan.gov/documents/dnr/IC2004-3_Wildlife_Damage_and_Nuisacne_Control_Permit_368507_7.pdf.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)