Raccoon injuries plague Oak Bay neighbourhood

Reward offered for pertinent information following multiple injured raccoons

A pair of images on the website showing a racoon photographed in May missing a paw and another spotted this month missing its other front paw.

A pair of images on the website showing a racoon photographed in May missing a paw and another spotted this month missing its other front paw.

Concern continues after another raccoon was spotted missing its paw in Oak Bay.

One resident reported injured raccoons in the spring and started a small neighbourhood poster campaign that quickly grew to include the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

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Seeing a reduction in raccoon population and a series of injured animals, the resident contacted Oak Bay police, BCSPCA Wild ARC in Metchosin and the BC Conservation Service and posted signs in the Haultain Street and Kings Road area.

“Nobody has come forward (with information) yet and at the time things looked like they were starting to slow down,” said Adrian Nelson, director of communications for the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals.

“Just this morning I got a new email that there is another injured raccoon.”

Oak Bay resident Marla Berchard and her husband Henry spotted the latest amputee in mid-August.

“A mother with four very small babies … she’s lost a lot of her left front paw so it’s really difficult for her to manoeuvre,” Marla said. “It’s really sad to see and it’s a concern for her babies’ survival.”

The couple canvassed the neighbourhood with Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals pamphlets and other information.

The Vancouver-based organization deals with wildlife issues across the nation, and trap injuries aren’t new.

It’s currently dealing with a similar case in Lumby, B.C. where a cat came home with injuries believed to be from a hold trap, Nelson said.

“We hope that we bring awareness to the community that raccoons are here to stay. They’re ubiquitous, they’re everywhere and they fit in with the urban landscape. They’re part of it and we need to learn to live with them,” Henry said.

“Really we hope people are vigilant against cruelty.”

The campaign includes a website seeking information and eventually a reward that grew consistently to today’s $4,500 offered for information that leads to apprehension and conviction of a perpetrator.

“The reward is now $4,500 which is basically made up of compassionate citizens,” Marla said.

“We’re just hoping some money is enough of an incentive to come forward,” Nelson said.

“The biggest concern for us is this is somebody that’s taking nuisance wildlife into their own hands … there are a lot of other ways of dealing with raccoons and skunks and other small mammals and we’d really urge them to look at some of those alternatives.”

The Berchards got involved with the Urban Wildlide Stewardship Society this summer, an organization primarily concerned with deer in Greater Victoria.

“I think they want to expand to include raccoons,” Marla said.

Working with that group and Nelson’s organization, they may approach council in the fall with suggestions on wildlife bylaws in general, and raccoons specifically.

While it’s not illegal to trap humanely, even that could be avoided during nursing and mothering season, Henry said.

“The population has just been decimated here,” said Marla.

With a treed yard and high fence that appears to be a raccoon thoroughfare, the Berchards note the injured animals.

“As far as we can tell this is about the fifth one that is missing a paw. We can tell because they have different levels of paw removal and different (appendages),” Henry said.

“There were more raccoons in the neighbourhood, they do seem to disappear. Somebody is trapping them for sure, what type of device they’re using we don’t know. We’re concerned about that.”

His hope is that residents come to respect the intelligent creatures.

“Our concern is really for the welfare of the animals,” Henry said. “Most people are appalled when they hear about the situation. Most people are animal supporting and loving of the animals.”

Visit savetheraccoons.weebly.com for more information and photos.

Police ask anyone with information to contact the Oak Bay Police Department 250-592-2424 or Crime Stoppers, 1-800-222-8477.