Wild Raccoons Terrorize The Streets Of Harlem

New York's storied African-American neighborhood is being beseiged by a furry, four-legged invasion. 

By Benjamin H. Smith

The dangers of big city life are legion. Crime, drugs, pollution, long lines at the DMV can all set people on edge. Residents of America’s storied African-American neighborhood Harlem, have another kind of worry. Wild, feral raccoons.

According to an article on DNAinfo, the oversize varmints have been wreaking havoc, rummaging through garbage, breaking into people’s homes looking for food and in one case eating a pet turtle. The website first reported about the problem two years ago and it seems in the interim nothing’s changed.

For its part, the City of New York says reports of raccoons have increased since last year, up to 1,400 reports so far, but they seem powerless or unwilling to slow the tide of the four legged invasion. The city’s Department of Health in fact will only intervene if the animals exhibit rabid behavior.

Residents of the city’s more open outer boroughs have long known the nuisance of raccoons foraging in their backyards, but their presence in denser urban areas is seen as part of their natural evolution. Raccoon Nation, a 2012 PBS documentary, showed how the ample food sources of living amongst humans has made raccoons smarter than ever before and led to a population explosion in inner cities. Next time you hear something at your backdoor, it might not be a robber but a raccoon. 

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