Wildlife sighting: Raccoons in Brooklyn.

Sorry, no pics. I did not see them. But our tenants, while eating dinner in the backyard last night, saw two raccoons, which came within about six feet of them. From their description, they sound like juveniles.

To set the stage, here's a photo of the backyard:

The tenants were seated in the Adirondack chairs. The raccoons were at the log in the foreground.

Melanie, a next-door neighbor, has been vindicated. Several months ago, I saw an opposum in our backyard. Right out the back window, nosing around the leaf litter and bags of mulch. And all the neighbors said "Oh, yeah, we've see the opposum." Like there would only ever be one. Where there is one opposum, there be much opposa. In that conversation, Melanie said that she'd seen a raccoon in her backyard. At which the neighbors scoffed "Maybe it was a cat." For none but Melanie had seen a raccoon.

Until last night.

Note the compost bin in the photo above. There is another directly behind where the photographer is standing, against the garage. I think this is what is attracting the raccoons. The tenants were very excited about being able to compost their kitchen scraps, and I've encouraged this. I've let them know what not to compost (meat, bones, fats or oils) and what to compost (vegetable, fruit, coffee grounds, eggshells, and so on). But the bins do not have secure lids; I sometimes even leave them unlidded if they're dried out.

I've never had to contend with raccoons in 25 years of urban gardening. We live one block from Coney Island Avenue: a seven-lane thoroughfare lined, at our latitude, with auto shops, car washes, gas stations, row houses, and Pakistani restaurants. Granted, we also only live four or five blocks from Prospect Park. But raccoons?!

Is this a problem for you suburban and exurban composters? Should I do anything? What do you do?

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steven said...

Until recently, my best friend lived in Park Slope and I saw raccons less than a block from 5th Ave.

When I lived in San Francisco we had urban raccoons and this was fifteen years ago.

Janet said...

Raccoons are pretty common in Ottawa. I once encountered a mother and her rather large babies as they came to check out the rather messy garbage area in the development where we were living. But then, I was up much earlier than normal that day.

In my experience, raccoons go mainly after garbage. Other gardeners find they clear the fish out of their ponds. But I've never had them do anything destructive in the garden as such, so I suspect you don't really have to do anything. Raccoons actually do better in cities than in the country, because they are omnivorous scavengers.

I've had to deal with skunks and groundhogs and lots and lots of squirrels though. Fortunately no rabbits in this neighbourhood, although they are major pests in some parts of town. More urban fauna around than you'd think...

jlgreen97 said...

I am also in flatbush and I have seen a racoon in my yard. I also have a compost bin at the far end in a corner. I wonder if they are atracted to the bins. I saw the racoon climb over my fence and into the neighbors yard in which he also has seen them walk across a telephone line. Go figure...

Anonymous said...

There was one spotted by my sister's house this week in Marine Park...sleeping on the roof...it left by morning...and one spotted on my neighbor's garage roof this morning in Midwood. They're all over the place.