Vancouver neighbors concerned after possibly poisoned raccoon found

Raccoon tracks can be seen in recent snowfall in a Vancouver neighborhood. (KATU Photo)

When Carl Smith found an injured raccoon dying a slow and agonizing death in his Vancouver backyard this past weekend, he says he thought it had been hit by a car. He called animal control and was told it appeared that the animal had been poisoned.

Smith posted on a neighborhood web page how concerned he was that someone poisoned the animal, whether on purpose or by accident. He was even more concerned that a child may come across the animal and be in danger if the animal "lashed out to protect itself."

Clark County Community Development Manager Susan Anderson says Smith did the right thing calling animal control.

According to the Washington Fish and Wildlife website, it's illegal to trap and relocate a raccoon or other wildlife without a permit.

And it's not legal to put poison out where other animals can get to it.

Anderson says the one case of a possibly poisoned raccoon in the Riverridge neighborhood isn't really a cause for alarm, and is not as serious as recent poisonings in Fishers Landing, the Hough neighborhood, and especially Fircrest Park, where several dead and apparently poisoned raccoons had been dumped.

Not only raccoons, but cats too, and that's what concerns people who live around Riverridge in Southeast Vancouver -- their pets could get into the poison inadvertently.

"No, I’d be heartbroken for my dog, but also heartbroken for wildlife. If you’re having a problem, I think you contact the appropriate government agency and figure out a different way to take care of that," said Teresa Boyd who walks her dog at Biddlewood Park. "I would be worried about that. I would be worried if someone is putting poison out. "

Jerry Clauson walks his dog in and around the park as well, and he's used to seeing raccoons roaming around his house.

"If you go out at night, a lot of times you can shine a flashlight and spot their eyes, or they’ll be up in the trees on a fairly regular basis" said Clauson. "Coyotes -- we used to see a lot of, and hear a lot of, but haven’t for the last 6 months or so. Which is actually very strange."

The Washington Fish and Wildlife web page answers just about any question you can think of when it comes to living with wildlife.

Raccoons in particular don't hibernate in the winter, and food is in short supply, which is why you're more likely to see them roaming around your property.

Rather than using poison to get rid of them, wildlife experts suggest using a barrier like a fence or screen to keep them away; getting rid of the food source that's attracting them, like a garbage can or outdoor pet food, and if that doesn't work, call an animal control or pest expert.

Rachel Morrow, a Clark County animal control officer, says many people are worried about coming across a rabid animal, but Morrow says that is rare. It's more likely the animal has distemper, much more common and not as dangerous to people.

Even then, it's better to call animal control than to try to get rid of the animal yourself.

What wildlife experts and animal control say about living with wildlife, and what you should do when you come across a sick or injured animal:

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