Saturday, November 26, 2011

Fat City no more for the raccoons

So the city or the park administration finally took the feeding of the raccoons at the belvedere on Mont Royal seriously and put up some permanent signs.

The situation was out of control, with people bringing bags of cat food and dumping them on the ground.  According to the local group Les Amis de la Montagne there was something like twice the amount of raccoons on Mont-Royal than the land could actually support.  I always wondered what happened to them in the winter.  Did people still come by and feed them?  Did the fat they had built up all summer help them make it through?  Or did a bunch die off every winter?  If the signs work and people really do stop feeding them, than I guess we will have a bunch of dead raccoons over the next year.  What happens to their bodies?

Maybe the raccoons who are so used to humans doing their bidding will get aggressive now that the food is not forthcoming.  It will start off small, with them approaching people, tugging on their pant leg.  Then one day one of them will climb up some little girl and yank her ice cream sandwich from her hands.  Then they'll start ganging up, pulling down small children and frail older people.  Or maybe they get sneaky, chewing brake lines on people's parked cars as they roll a joint or make out at night then following the car down Camillien-Houde until it crashes where they jump in and feast on the bodies before the ambulance arrives.

That fine has some teeth.  How will it be enforced, though?
I also like the "Je suis porteur de maladies" line.  It's basically untrue, at least to the extent that anybody would ever get sick from feeding a raccoon.  Obviously, it could happen, but the rate would be so minimal that there would be no real social cost.  It's just that our society has become so obsessed with health and safety (and our own individual well-being of course), that that simple line will probably be incredibly effective.  All the ignorant people who are only capable of thinking of their own pleasure will get that message quite quickly, especially the freaked-out parents of today.  Really, it's quite clever.

Next time I see somebody from Les Amis de la Montagne, I'll ask them about the story behind the sign.  The last time I talked to them, they lamented about how hard a time they were having educating people about not feeding the raccoons and how they had put signs up only to have them all torn down.  I'm curious how they got real action to be taken and how effective it actually is.

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