Raccoon on the windows of the Bundestag
Beer-loving raccoons have become well more than a nuisance for many Germans.
Several people returning home from their holidays have faced repair bills of up to £8,500 (€10,000) after the animals had managed to break in and destroyed their kitchens as well as eating their pet fish and rabbits.
Their costly escapades may have even been fuelled by alcohol as, mentioning the animals may share a common interest with many Germans, Berthold Langenhorst of nature organisation Nabu claimed raccoons are “funny and clever… and they like beer”.
The “unbelievably adaptable” species, as raccoons have been described by German scientists, have also paid a surprise visit to MPs.
Earlier this summer, the Twitter account of the German Parliament – the Bundestag – shared a video showing a raccoon escaping from an animal rescue worker emerging from one of the building’s windows.
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The man had caught the raccoon after the animal had managed to clamber up several storeys at one of the office buildings used by German MPs in central Berlin.
In the clip, the animal can be then seen treading the narrow steel ledge, only to find another net waiting for it peeping out of another window.
Also sharing the funny video, the German Embassy in London tweeted: “A surprise guest was spotted at the German Bundestag today, but the little raccoon (or Waschbär, as we say in German) couldn’t find its way out. With a little help from colleagues, the cute visitor was brought safely back to nature.”
While the embassy made light of the situation, the issue of raccoons, a species native to North America, is so serious that Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, a German newspaper, branded the animals a “plague”.
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The daily wrote: “These animals, which are so cute at first sight, have become a plague in some parts of the country. But the problem can no longer be eradicated, so we have to learn to live with them. In less than a century this species has made Germany its home. That’s a story of both success and suffering.”
First brought to Germany in the 1920s, the raccoon population has grown exponentially in particular over the past two decades, growing from a population smaller than 10,000 exemplars in the whole country to several hundred thousands.
At least 1,000 raccoons are residing in Berlin alone, where they have been often spotted in buses, high schools and allotment gardens.
In 2022, however, Germany’s National Hunting Association (DJV) said to have culled a record 200,000 raccoons in an attempt to control the population and is advocating for further killing by saying raccoon meat should become part of the national diet and the animals’ fur could be used for “high quality, eco-friendly clothes”.
Raccoons are not just a nuisance to humans as Nabu said they hunt endangered red kites and young lapwings and threaten native wildlife.
Moreover, they have been reportedly caught munching on fish and pet rabbits during their home invasions.
But the German Parliament has so far refused to sanction the killing of the animals, saying it would instead encourage the public to properly lock their bins.
Moreover, allowing the hunting of raccoons may not be the right solution to the problem, as local experts believe attempts to control the population of the species through hunting have had the adverse effect of increasing its already prodigious birth rate.
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