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Street gangs of raccoons in Alameda…

… the “masks” aren’t “just for show.” :-)

There have been NINE attacks by raccoons on the island of Alameda since June. In the ninth attack, Rachel Campos de Ivanov, 33, was walking her dog, a border terrier, when she saw eyes in the darkness. When she turned away, the raccoon charged.

Then FOUR OTHER RACCOONS dropped from trees and chased the woman and her dog!

Rachel Campos de Ivanov ran about a third of a block, then fell on the ground. Although her 20-pound dog, Dougie, held off four of the raccoons, a fifth grabbed her leg and bit her!

I lived briefly on the island of Alameda during my first year in California. It is a beautiful island, joined to Oakland by short bridges and two underwater tunnels, or “tubes.”

The island nature of Alameda means that raccoons…

“… don’t have enough territory, so they are acting aggressively toward anything out there that looks like a predator,” said Daniel Wilson, community relations coordinator for the Alameda County Vector Control Services District. Alameda has more than 70,000 people on about 10.8 square miles of land.

“It’s a public safety problem,” Wilson said. “You should be able to walk the streets at night with a dog and not worry about being molested by a raccoon.”

Campos de Ivanov is receiving rabies shots to protect her from the disease, even though raccoons RARELY carry rabies in the West. Bats and skunks are the primary carriers of rabies in the American West.

David Gould, a vector control officer who has worked in Alameda for 20 years, said that all of the attacks involved people with dogs, and the dogs probably incited the raccoons. Gould said that PEOPLE need to stop leaving out FOOD!

People can sometimes get hurt when they intervene in fights between raccoons and dogs. Raccoons are known to get dogs of “Labrador size” into swimming pools, grab them by the head, and hold them underwater and drown them! The natural predators of raccoons are mountain lions, coyotes, and great horned owls, although there are no mountain lions or coyotes in Alameda.

Raccoons in Alameda get into houses through pet doors and live in columns on porches. Male raccoons on Alameda can weigh 40 pounds! The vector control agency has suggested that people take walking sticks when they walk their dogs at night! Campos de Ivanov learned that running is the wrong thing to do and plans to take pepper spray with her in the future!

People are urged not to leave food and garbage outside, a behavior that has been blamed for the boom in the raccoon population!

-Bill at

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