Nature: Raccoon Nation on WXXI-TV

Nature: Raccoon Nation on WXXI-TV

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 8:00pm

Credit: Courtesy of Laurie Peterson

When the lights go down in cities across North America, another world is revealed, populated by shady little characters that live alongside us, but exist in the margins.

These pint-size problem solvers are smart, adaptable and omnivorous, and they love a good challenge. Welcome to the world of urban raccoons. With their busy little hands, they can do what other would-be urban animals can’t –open doors, get into attics, and raid secured trash cans. And they are especially fond of big cities, like Chicago, New York, and Toronto – the raccoon capital of the world. In cities everywhere, wherever they’ve been introduced, they have done very, very well. Using both night-vision cameras and raccoon-proof radio collars, scientists set out to learn about their hidden, intimate world. Nature: Raccoon Nation premieres Wednesday, February 8 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV/HD (DT21.1/cable 1011 and 11).

Originally from the tropics, where they could be found foraging along riverbanks, over time raccoons moved north, adapting to new environments, predators, and foods. In the process, they developed a real taste for big city life. As a result, raccoon populations have grown twenty-fold in North American cities over the last seventy years, and there are now fifty times more raccoons living in Toronto than in the same area in the surrounding countryside. Following a family of urban raccoons over the course of six months as the young leave their den high in a tree and head down dark alleyway and haunts with their mother, high-definition cameras and intensive GPS tracking reveal new insights about a species that is far more elusive and wily than most people ever imagined, and more destructive.