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ActivismNature

Raccoons Move into White House– Should Obama Let Them Stay?

A raccoon at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic SiteLast week news surfaced that several raccoons had been seen repeatedly in areas around the White House grounds. Humane traps have been set to capture them, and if caught, the fuzzy-looking bandits will be released in a forested area by the National Park Service.

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Forget the need for economic stimulus, Barack, can you come up with a better plan for the raccoons? The Obama family is always looking for opportunities to put action behind their beliefs, so would it be better for them to send out a pro-wildlife message by letting the raccoons stay?

As someone who is fascinated by urban wildlife, I think this is an issue that merits thought, if in the end, “staying the course” with the current plan is the best option. The presence of wildlife in cities is becoming more common than a lot of people realize, mostly because of habitat loss. Certain animals like raccoons, possums, foxes, and deer are adapting successfully though to urban life. Of course, many of us know that when we move it can be nice to get some help during the transition.

For this reason, the Obamas would serve themselves well by checking out this article about 3 unique ways they can help protect urban wildlife. For instance, they could make the White House grounds an official urban wildlife sanctuary, give the White House a “green roof,” or have Sasha and Malia Obama become citizen scientists by studying the lives of the raccoons.

In the end, the White House might be a dangerous and stressful place for the raccoons to live, given the foot and car traffic around the area (not to mention the headaches associated with thinking about economic stimulus packages and international diplomacy). The Obamas could definitely seize the moment though to bring some fun, light awareness to the challenges many animals now face as city dwellers.

Photo Credit: Public photo courtesy of Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site/National Park Service




4 comments
  1. Sharon McEachern

    It’s hard to take the stories about the raccoons literally — as wild animals caught in an urban squeeze — with the racial undertones and bigotry evidenced in the news stories, particularly when you understand the historial significance of the word “raccoon.” It’s bigot code for a Black person and it’s one of the most insulting and dehumanizing of all anti-Black caricatures. The Washington Post headline read: “Raccoons Invade White House Grounds” on February 5th. However, the next day that headline was suddenly changed online to “Masked Intruders Roaming the White House Grounds” on February 6th.

    I wrote a post on the Ethic Soup blog about the blatant racial undertones in this story and journalism ethics at:

    http://www.ethicsoup.com/2009/02/raccoons-at-white-house-america-still-waits-for-postracism.html

    Please read and comment.

  2. Devona Wyant

    The Obama family wants to get a dog. Dogs and raccoons are not a good mix and a big raccoon – let alone a group – could kill a dog. Especially a puppy.

    That said, should they decide to try it and plan to never let the dog off the leash outside, then they should drop food for the raccoons that contains vaccine for rabies as raccoons are known carriers.

    Now, for trapping them, they’re using the wrong bait. As a former wildlife rehabilitator who has worked with raccoons, possums, skunks, squirrels, etc.,
    I can tell you that I have yet to meet a raccoon that will turn down a marshmallow.

  3. Sash

    One thing that we must keep in mind is that Virginia (and D. C.) is a high risk rabies area. I know in my corner of Va, any raccoons spotted in daylight or acting too comfortable around humans are caught and euthanized. And that’s just assuming the agency collecting the animals actually takes the time to wonder if the animals are sick. More often than not, raccoons, foxes, bats and other high risk animals are euthanized immediately.

    I am definitely glad to see the White House trying to relocate the raccoons. I just don’t think in Virginia they have the option of letting them stay.

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