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Raccoons on the Verge of Disease Outbreak

Andrew Norton

I just read an interesting article from the Dowagiac Daily News about the recent population boom of raccoons here in southwest Michigan. I have seen the increase firsthand this year with our garden constantly being attacked and damaged by raccoons either searching for grubs or just bent on destruction. They broke one of our tomato plants, ripped up a row of green beans, and devoured or smashed our first wave of strawberries. We have always had problems from time to time with raccoons, but this summer is different. They just seem to have greatly increased numbers this year and not enough of them are getting hit in the road.

The problem with raccoons when they become too numerous (in addition to being a nuisance to gardeners) is the transmittal of disease. Most notably is distemper which can be passed to pets. The nastiest threat is raccoon roundworm which can be passed to pets, birds, and even humans. It is transmitted through the worm eggs which are found in the raccoon feces.

If you see raccoon feces anywhere in your yard or where kids are known to play you must get rid of it to prevent the transmission of disease. I found a pile of coon poo in our yard and just dug up the grass underneath the pile to make sure that everything was as clean as possible.

Raccoons are disease carrying garbage pickers and should never be kept as pets. The only good thing about raccoons becoming overpopulated is that they tend to die off in large numbers as various diseases rage throughout their population. It is just part of the circle of life and the checks and balances necessary for a healthy environment.