It’s Mating Season at UBC!

Afraid that you’ll die alone? Don’t worry, raccoons have this same problem from late February to June, mating season. These animals are one of the many prowlers on the UBC campus, looking for love wherever they can find it. Their activity is increasing and so should your knowledge about the wildlife in your neck of the woods.

Raccoons scavenging for food.

Raccoons are a species native to north america. These creatures are primarily nocturnal, with a diet consisting of bugs, plants, and our food scraps. They are omnivorous and will eat practically anything left for them. They also have a tendency to douse their food in water before eating it if a source is readily available.

They travel alone or in small groups of less than four. Raccoons mate during a period of increased daylight which comes between February and stretches to June. This makes them far more active throughout the night as they search for food and lovers.

Humans have a direct impact on raccoon life. Forestry professor Peter Arcese says how they have “benefited by the fact that we have removed cougars and wolves from the area, and provided them with huge amount of food incidentally. As a consequence they are very abundant”

A raccoon that chased Myke, our photographer, after this photo

This large population of raccoons has many implications. Arcese goes on to say that “many researchers have shown that their abundance has big negative effects for nesting birds” this is because raccoons can easily climb trees and eat the birds eggs. The dean of forestry and professor at UBC John Innes also sees potential adverse effects from these animals saying that “Raccoons can be affected by rabies, which can be transmitted to people” and that “ and raccoons and crows may rip up the turf looking for the beetles”.

Torn up grass from alleged raccoon foraging

When asked about the effects raccoons have on the campus, UBC Building Services declined to comment.

The criticisms of raccoons should be taken lightly as they are not a threat if left unmolested. Innes compares the ones at UBC to those elsewhere and says “the raccoons in Stanley Park are fed a lot, and very tame, but don’t seem a problem for people… However, they are wild animals, and best left alone”.

As far as action UBC should take to mitigate raccoon damage, Professor Arcese says “ I am not sure why they would do anything. If they are a hazard they can be removed, but there are so many ready to replace any that are removed, that is not much of a solution. One could modify habitats to reduce the quality of the habitat we provide for them, but as long as we have people feeding feral cats, leaving garbage out, and allowing unlimited access to fruit in summer (unattended trees), we are likely to have lots of them for a while”

Just another night in the life of a raccoon

While experts say that raccoons are not a big issue for UBC, students have mixed feelings about them:

Whether you’re a lawn-care advocate or nature lover, everyone agrees. Don’t bother raccoons, especially during their mating season. How would you like to be walked in on?

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