Creepy critters on the prowl

They may look cute, but these critters have been causing mayhem in parts of North Philadelphia, invading attics and crawlspaces, and destroying garbage cans.
They may look cute, but these critters have been causing mayhem in parts of North Philadelphia, invading attics and crawlspaces, and destroying garbage cans.
Posted: July 23, 2013

TERRELLE GREENE isn't ashamed to tell about his run-in with a raccoon that gave him a stare-down one day in his North Philadelphia neighborhood: "I ran!"

Greene, 19, said the raccoons are so bold and unafraid, they practically stand up on their rear legs, hold their front paws up, at the ready, and "look at you as if to say, 'Bring it on!'

"If you go up to 19th and York around 11 p.m., I guarantee you a raccoon is going to grab your leg," he said.

Greene was one of several residents on 18th Street near Susquehanna who said roving packs of raccoons have taken over.

"They come out in groups," Greene said last Friday. "There's about four or five in this house here and there another group of six or seven down at the end of the block."

Neighbors said the raccoons are all over the area, which has plenty of vacant, overgrown lots and abandoned houses, especially along 18th and 19th streets between York and Susquehanna.

In addition, many of the alleys have huge trees growing on top of the houses. These conditions - along with easy access to garbage bags - attract raccoons, the city's top animal-control official said.

Harriet Taylor, the block captain on 18th near Susquehanna, said raccoons have bitten a hole in her plastic garbage cans.

One day, she was standing on her front porch, looked out and saw a raccoon on the sidewalk.

"I got a broom and started beating [the broom] against the porch railing, just trying to make noise, but it looked at me like it didn't care. It just stared at me a while, then jumped over my fence and ran into the side yard."

Taylor said she cut back the trees in her yard, but said many of her neighbors have allowed trees to grow out of control.

Susan Cosby, the executive director of the city-supported Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia, said raccoons frequently climb up trees and try to get into houses.

A family of raccoons got into the space above the ceiling in one woman's house, who has since moved out.

The woman, who only would give her first name, Yolanda, said she called the city for help but was told she had to hire someone.

One company told her it wasn't licensed to take raccoons out of houses in the city. So she bought a cage used to trap raccoons, but hasn't captured any.

Cosby, the city's animal-control chief, said the city can only remove raccoons that get into a common area of the house, such as a bedroom or living room, but the city can't remove wild critters that are inside walls or in crawlspaces.

The city would retrieve a raccoon if a homeowner captures it.

For more, go to the animal-control website: http://ph.ly/nx0FB.


On Twitter: @ValerieRussDN

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