The rise of the ‘uber-raccoon:’ A recent study suggests that by trying to control the animals, humans are making them smarter.
“One of the things we’re doing is providing them [raccoons] with bigger and bigger challenges so we’re actually shaping an uber-raccoon that is going to be able to compete in an urban environment,” said Suzanne MacDonald, the study author and a behavioral psychologist at Toronto’s York University.
MacDonald tagged five raccoons with GPS systems and traced their movements over several months. She found they stuck to a territory of about three blocks, which was usually defined by busy streets. She said they rarely crossed streets, and when they did it was at around 5 a.m., when there was no traffic. MacDonald suggests that the animals have learned what time is best for avoiding cars, which remain their biggest threat in urban areas.
CAPTION: In this file photo, a raccoon that can’t be returned to the wild likes to lie on it’s back in it’s cage. Toronto has seen a rise in the city’s raccoon population. (Jim Damaske/Newscom)