Trash panda alert: Safety tips for raccoon encounters

Apr 23, 2021

MARION — Marion Police, Animal Control, and the Board of Health are sharing safety tips and guidelines for residents encountering raccoons after an uptick of sightings in recent weeks.

According to an April 23 press release, police and Animal Control have received 16 calls regarding raccoons since April 5.

Two dogs and one person were involved in incidents of exposure to three different raccoons that did not result in serious injuries, the release stated.

The three raccoons involved were found to pose a public safety risk and were humanely euthanized by responding officers.

All three subsequently tested negative for rabies.

The raccoons are not reported to be overtly aggressive.

But Police Chief Richard Nighelli, Animal Control Officer Susan Connor and the Marion Board of Health reminded residents that humans or pets can be exposed to diseases carried by raccoons if they come into contact with bodily secretions such as raccoon waste, or through a bite or scratch.

"It is important to never approach, feed or handle wild animals, and ensure children know to do the same," Connor said. "Always call the police department if you notice an animal behaving aggressively or unusually, or if a person or pet has an interaction with a wild animal so that we can assess the situation and determine what action needs to be taken."

Residents are urged to immediately contact the Marion Police Department at 508-748-1212 for:

Any animal that behaves oddly or aggressively

Human or pet interactions with wild mammals

A scratch, bite or other exposure from a wild animal

Contact Animal Control Officer Connor with any non-emergency animal-related questions.

Safety Tips and Guidance:

Never feed or handle wild animals. If you should find a young or injured animal, leave it alone and contact the Animal Control Officer via the Marion Police Department for assistance. Teach children to never approach animals they don’t know even if they appear friendly.

Make sure your pet's vaccinations are up to date, including pets that are not outside. Leash your pet when walking outdoors and to not leave pets unattended or restrained outdoors.

Keep food sources inaccessible to wildlife. This includes trash, pet food, compost and discarded bird seed from feeders.

Remove brush and secure areas under sheds and porches. Make sure trees and vines do not give access to your roof. Secure the top of your chimney using a safe and appropriate method.

This will reduce the areas that an animal may make a den or nest.

Wildlife is active at all times of the day and night, and often busy during the spring and summer. Daytime activity is not an automatic indicator of disease for any Massachusetts mammal.

Keep the wild in wildlife by making loud noises to discourage contact with humans. It is illegal to trap and move wildlife to another location. They must be released in the same location or be euthanized.

"Wild animals can carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to humans and pets," said Dr. Edward Hoffer, Board of Health Chair. "It is always a good idea to wash your hands when returning from outside to prevent exposure to any illness that may be carried by wildlife. If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, be sure to wash the wound well and call your health care provider and animal control."

To learn more about wildlife and preventing problems with wildlife, visit the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website.

To learn more about protecting yourself from diseases carried by wild animals, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.