[UPDATE BELOW] Raccoons have taken over this city's subways, public parks, and official Twitter accounts, and now they're coming for the neighborhoods—the Post reported this week that "a gang of food-grubbing raccoons" have been trying to break into apartments in West Harlem.
The Post spoke to several residents who say the raccoons are in full force, especially on West 125th Street. "I came home and one was trying to get in the window, and when I tried to shoo it out, it bared its claws at me," one area resident told the paper. Another, Rodell Lee, noted, "They come around 3 a.m., all over the outside and up the fire escape. If you put on a flashlight, all you see are those eyes staring at you. If a window is opened even a crack, they’ll push right in and make themselves at home."
Raccoons have been a problem in the neighborhood for some time now. In July 2016, DNAinfo reported on a slew of bold raccoons who were terrorizing area residents and eating their pets. One resident, Nia Bediako, said a raccoon made a snack out of a turtle living in former mayoral candidate Bill Thompson's backyard. "It ate the turtle and left the shell," Bediako told the website.
The raccoon invasion has been heavily documented on social media:
Today I tracked a raccoon through a Harlem airshaft. Sleep well America. 🙂 pic.twitter.com/UjKLsHiDWG
— Lou Young (@LouYoungNY) February 10, 2017
— Steven Portericker (@sdotporterl53) January 30, 2017
— rcolly (@rcolly) February 9, 2017
BRUH A RACCOON IN HARLEM WTF pic.twitter.com/10LqRRxvdX
— Nicolas Consalvo (@nickconsalvo) September 25, 2016
Lee told the Post he's been calling Animal Control to complain about the raccoons, but so far they haven't done much to alleviate the situation. It doesn't help that his neighbors appear to like the raccoons. "One lady was giving them tamales," he said.
Earlier this year, the city's Parks Department released a video offering tips on how to peacefully coexist with raccoons, who are notoriously drawn to Central Park (and often unwisely fed by tourists):
— NYC Parks (@NYCParks) May 18, 2017
We contacted the city's Health Department for more information and will update when we hear back. Meanwhile, Animal Care & Control directed us to the Mayor's office of Community Affairs, whose website has a form where you can report various wildlife sightings, not that that will do you much good when a raccoon attaches itself to your face. At least they make nice lunches for swans.
Update 1:28 p.m.: The city's Health Department says they have not seen any evidence of a raccoon population uptick, but say they will respond to 311 complaints if a spotted raccoon appears ill or injured.