Philadelphia Councilman Wants Health Department To Resume Wild Raccoon Control

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia city councilman says the city’s wild raccoon population is out of control, and he has introduced a bill that forces the Health Department to start catching them.

Councilman Darrell Clarke says that in parts of his district, next to crime, wild and possibly rabid raccoons are the top issue. And he says that at upwards of 35 pounds each, they’re out of control.

“Killing cats, pets, rummaging through debris, turning over people’s trash cans: seeing a family of raccoons walking down the street in an urban environment is just quite, quite scary,” Clarke told KYW Newsradio.

Clarke says that until 10 years ago, the city would catch raccoons reported by residents, but since then, the residents have been required to do the catching.

That would change under a bill he has introduced, which puts the responsibility squarely back in the hands of the Health Department.

His bill will be debated in committee.

Reported by KYW City Hall Bureau Chief Mike Dunn

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One Comment

  1. Humane Options Pittsburgh! says:

    Raccoons have such a bad rap in PA, it’s ridiculous…. Philadelphia, work with us to help put a stop to this kind of idiocy, state-wide!

  2. Sandra Girman says:

    I do not believe that Mr. Clarke has ever seen a family of raccoons walking down the street. First of all, he would have to be looking for them at night since they are nocturnal animals. Secondly the babies would be sleeping back in the nest at the time that this was written, unable to walk the streets of Philadelphia. It’s all ridiculous. Raccoons do not scavenge in gangs. A rule of thumb is to never make a law about wildlife until you have consulted experts in the field. Several experts have been named in the comments.
    It is a matter of public education.The media should help with this by presenting facts, not scare tactics. Raccoons will not come to your garbage if they can not get into it. They are simply looking to feed their babies as all mothers are. If you do not enloy wildlife, do not leave food out for them, and they will not come. A raccoon sees an unsecured trash can as a food source. They are not looking to have an encounter with humans.

    1. DFW says:

      They have been seen at night walkihng across 58th street in West Philly. 2 adults and 3 young ones. I had to have my porch roof removed and replaced, as well as the siding. I saw one entering my home from the porch roof, it was an adult. Once I had my porch roof repaired they moved on to the next house two doors away. We spotted a baby raccoon sticking its nose out of that home, leaving it and re-entering it for about 2 weeks and this was during hours before dusk. You obviously do not live in Philly. To meyour disbelief matters not.

      1. Katherine McGill says:

        Raccoons do not “eat” wood, and so what if they are seen? Seriously, what is big deal? Is our society SO far removed from knowledge about animals beyond our domestic pets that we’ve forgotten about wildlife and farm animals? Lost all sense of wonderment at viewing wildlife?
        All we are capable of “knowing” anymore is sensationalized propoganda spoon fed us by media and myths?
        Are we THAT self centered today that we don’t realize sharing this planet, along with having empathy for others is not an option for our own survival?

        Leave the raccoons alone. Secure your garbage, take good care of your property, seal off openings and learn empthay for ALL living beings.

  3. Sandra says:


    …The City’s Fifth Council District is all about promise and problems….in the district continue to have quality of life issues, gun violence, and drugs problems that must be addressed. (from the Committee of Seventy
    So. Mr. Clarke, you constituents do have bigger problems than a “family of raccoons” roaming ” your District 5. Your “experts and advisors” should be getting information about educating people on how to better their life and neighborhoods by picking up trash, and putting it in trash cans (what a concept!) to avoid inviting rats, raccoons, and other animals.
    Furthermore, it is so incendiary to have the news repeating nonsense such as raccoons are 35 pounds or more, and that they are out of control. I do not know who was the person who came out with such information but it is false and denotes great ignorance; please do get the actual facts right and then broadcast them; Mr. Clarke are you this gullible?
    The solution to a nuisance situation is not to kill the poor animals, it is to teach the very intolerant, un-informed, uncivilized – and some other adjectives I cannot say out loud- humans about waste management, peaceful cohabitation with nature and loving the place where they live.
    I truly hope Mr. Clarke that you call Deb Welter who is an expert on Wildlife whose forte are raccoons, she can inform you about better solutions to manage the situation.
    Finally, I am just curious about the solutions your experts and very des-informed advisors are providing you on regards of street violence, gun management and drug trafficking… because your district is plagued with it. Are they calling the exterminators too? Maybe getting educated and calling educators is a better problem solving approach, do not you think?
    Just think about your priorities and the demagogic approach to your May 17 elections.
    p.s. Mr. Dunn, I expected better journalism from you.

  4. says:

    Councilman Clarke – what trapping company wormed its way into your pocket? Please check out what the Council in D.C. achieved last year, the Humane Wildlife Act 2010. It was what the PUBLIC agreed to as a majority; opposed to by a mere few who feared loss of profits (e.g., trappers stealing money from residents via tactics that guarantee repeat business! and selling “humanely” trapped animals to coon hunters for their dogs to shred).

    Sir, you are the reason that pro-animal voting blocs are organizing at a rampant, overdue pace in every state and community. I encourage all Philly voters to seek organization and ensure this weak man is not elected any where animals exist.

    Google PA humane league of voters, PAC for animals… Get involved politically! :) We are terribly delinquent in getting involved effectively.

    Excellent comments here from many wise souls. Good to see that Now let’s call & comment to the council members and attend that public discussion if possible!

    1. Katherine says:

      Our Health Departments know as little about managing wildlife (and surprising very little about rabies) as Clarke apparently does.

      We need (and need to get involved to accomplish) humane resolution and coexistance programs. Clueless lawmakers simply can’t do this, but yet those that can are not the people who typically get involved politically…

      Animal people must take their passion and skills to the lawmaking offices, if not to sit in the office then to offer their services, and to endorse and support animal friendly lawmakers. The enemies of animals know this game well, they have been in those offices for decades and THEIR voices are being heard.

      Are you Frustrated yet?

      Know thy Enemy. Now go copy him.

  5. carol says:

    this is ridiculous. what drug are you on are if you see 35 pound raccoons? its the trash that the trashy people leave is a hard life being wild and how easy it makes it for wild creatures to eat discarded fast food. just like it is no good for people it is not very good for wildlife either. nothing is smarter or cuter than a raccoon. leave them alone and try to straighten out the idiot people. here in pittsburgh they killed hundreds of geese because a few stupid mothers were afraid their children would eat goose doody. if the children are that stupid maybe they should. then they tried to force the homeless people to eat all the geese

    1. DFW says:

      the “wild creature” living in the porch roof of my home was not eating”fast food”, he was eating the wooden joists of my home’s porch roof.

  6. Rebecca Reid says:

    I live in Pittsburgh where there IS a trap-and-kill program. It has done nothing at all to “control” the raccoon population here and there are no fewer rabies cases on a comparative population level in Allegheny County than there are in Philly. The same situation exists – wherever you have resident(s) who leave accessible garbage, raccoons will come and multiply and there will be conflicts like this. In my own inner city neighborhood (not upscale at all) we have no problem with wildlife because everyone keeps the garbage under control. Go up the street a few blocks and you find a different situation – along with landfill-type lots. City Animal Control refuses to promote a sensible approach (clean up your trash…) and just pushes it’s trapping program. So while we pay huge parking fines here, you get individuals who repeatedly use Animal Control services free of charge to them (not to other taxpayers…) because either they or a neighbor is too darned lazy to keep their back yard tidy, Animal Control is too stuck in its old routine to change anything and council reps are too scared of the “squeaky wheels” who complain about wildlife to do the right thing. Don’t be fooled Philly, this will not help your raccoon issue.

  7. Rosemarie Curcio says:

    I agree with all the statements made previously. The problem is not with the raccoons but with people. They are the ones who leave their garbage out and raccoons are just taking advantage of this opportunity. We need to teach peop le humane methods of control. Once again some one came up with a plan without carefully thinking it through. If we eliminate raccoons then some thing else will fill the niche IE rats.

  8. Martina says:

    The first thing that struck me was the shameless exaggeration to inflame the public. Raccoons do not kill cats/pets. They are not “upwards of 35 lbs.” They weigh 10-15 lbs usually. I can’t find a report of the last rabid raccoon in Philadelphia, but the vast majority of raccoons are not rabid, They are like alll animals, including us, trying to live. They need food and shelter to live, If it is available, they move in. If it is not available, they move out. It makes no sense to treat the effect. Killing raccoons only frees up the food and shelter for other animals. You need to treat the cause which is food/garbage readily accessible and abandoned and deteriorated buildings. Killing raccoons makes absolutely no sense and is a waste of time and money along with being inhumane. This is not rocket science. It is basic Public Health protocol. Consult the experts.

  9. Pat Barbosa says:

    Councilman Clarke, why is seeing a family of raccoons “scary”? They’re a part of the urban/suburban landscape. The incidence of rabies in raccoons is minimal and, as pointed out, they do us a valuable service by keeping the rat population in check.
    I scanned the “Inquirerer” headlines today: a bankruptcy fraud, a vicious attack in a parking lot, testimony in a coffeehouse rape, a state representative arrested on DUI charges. Nowhere did I find any mention of a band of marauding raccoons terrorizing a neighborhood and killing cats and pets. Mr. Clarke, you need to re-think your priorities.

    1. Val Nasetta says:

      100% Accurate…. Please do some actual, factual research before you start legislation such as this. People are the problem, not the animals.

  10. Jean says:

    Regarding Darrell Clarke’s concerns about raccoons, I think there is a bit of an over-reaction going on here. Raccoons are scavengers, not vicious predators. They don’t kill pets; they want your garbage. Rabies occurs, but in a very small percentage of the population. They are really not scary animals. When I was a kid in Ohio, my friend across the street found an orphan and kept him as a pet for years, often carrying him around on her shoulder. Raccoons adapt to and live in many environments, and cause very little serious trouble. You are much more likely to be bitten by your neighbor’s dog than by a raccoon. “Control” usually means killing, and there is no need to do that. How about live and let live, for a change?

  11. Sarah says:

    I live in the city of Philadelphia and my neighborhood is home to people, pets, raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and birds. Our neighborhood’s trash is not rummaged through, turned over, or raided. Why???, Because our cans are secured with snap on lids, curbs are swept clean and pets are fed indoors.

    Many a evening I have had the pleasure of seeing a wild animal pass through my property, sometimes they stop to sip from my bird bath or nibble on dried corn, slugs, water bugs and mice. For the later I am grateful, but the encounter is uneventful, each giving way to the other with a respectful “how do you do”.

    With understanding and respect, NOT poison or traps we humans can overcome our fear of living with wildlife in the city.

    1. carol says:

      i agree with you completely

  12. Chris Jones says:

    The City of Philadelphia has two valuable resources readily available to them to resolve this issue: they have Ms. Welter of Malvern who commented above and Mr. Rick Schubert at the Schuylkill Wildlife Rehab Center in Roxborough; both are licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Any decision to address the “raccoon problem” should include extensive consultation with both of these trained individuals. Ms. Welter in particular specializes in Rabies Vector Species, which includes the raccoon. She understands raccoon behavior and has worked with them for many years. She has a deep appreciation for the raccoon’s intelligence, curiosity and ingenuity and she is ready, willing and able to share what she knows with anyone who has the wisdom to ask.

    Killing wildlife indiscriminately is never a good idea in my book. Please contact Deb and Rick before you destroy even one of these remarkable creatures or any other wildlife for that matter. As someone mentioned above, they were here first. It is up to us to learn to live with them, not the other way around. We are supposed to be the smarter species. Prove it.

  13. Sharon Warner says:

    Just one more politician who shows his common sense went out the door when sworn in. How about contacting experienced individuals who deal with wildlife in many ways to get various ideas to approach the problem? Also, would you hire anyone to go around and shoot the slobs who cannot be bothered to dispose of their garbage appropriately??? NO, I didn’t think so, therefore, find a viable solution to keep the garbage/free food contained and the wildlife and mooching critters won’t have a place to come visit (unless you can tax them for something and they have ability to pay). Too many studies have proven the fact if you remove one ‘link’ from life’s circle, you’ll get something nastier moving in to take its place and expand. Listen to Ms Welter and find a CORRECT, humane and appropriate way so animals and humans win!!

  14. Linda Camac says:

    P.S. If you think you have a raccoon “problem’ just wait until the city, in its ignorance, exterminates the raccoon population; a huge rat infestation will ensue. You will long for the days raccoons roamed. These kind of decisions made by politicians instead of wildlife experts is the reason there is so much imbalance and the reason our rivers are nothing more than open sewers.

  15. Lisa Hasbrouck says:

    If you think raccoons are a ‘problem’ wait until the athorities, in their ignorance, eliminate raccoons; a huge rat problem will ensue. Be glad that raccoons are holding the rat pupulation at bay! Philadelphians have no idea what they would be in for if the raccoons are exterminated. This kind of ignorance is why our rivers are nothing but open sewers!

  16. CaroleAnne says:


    I agree with Deb. I live on 8 acres surrounded by 100 + acres of preserved land. If I don’t put my garbage in a secure area the hungry night critters come and feast. As long has the garbage in contained they don’t come.

    I think Darrell Clarke needs to contact someone like Deb Welter to find the proper solution.

  17. Jenny says:

    When people leave garbage out and available to wild animals, it’s an open invitation for animals to move in. You can’t blame the animals for accepting the invitation – blame the people for extending it in the first place. If garbage is properly disposed of, in containers that can’t be opened by raccoons or other animals, they’ll move on. Killing them won’t solve the problem – there are more where those came from. Spend the money and time to make it an unattractive place for them to live instead. Without solving the real problem of easily available garbage, you won’t be able to “control” the raccoon population. Once you do solve the real problem, the “problem” of raccoon will solve itself, without killing anything.

  18. kate says:

    it is up to the resident to catch the animal? i don’t know i must be crazy because all i do is pay taxes not only real estate but city wage and wonder what the money goes for. the city has limited police, rolling brownouts at fire houses, fineing for improper? recycling. money coming in from the automatic cameras for red light violation, Sugarhouse predicts 16 million revenue to the city this year and we the residents are suppose to pay, pay , pay and now i hear catch a wild animal. when we do where do we take it? i don’t understand nor at this point do i want to.

    1. Deb Welter says:

      First of all, trapping & killing raccoons WILL NOT SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM. Nature abhors a vacuum: if an animal moves out, another one moves in. You can only solve your problem by eliminating the things that are attracting the raccoons to those areas: food, water & shelter. As a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, I have done a number of educational programs in different areas of the city & suburbs, and have ALWAYS seen overflowing trash cans with food in alleys & around the houses, as well as easy access to abandoned buildings, sheds, basements, etc for the animals to den. If you can eliminate those problems, you will eliminate your “raccoon problem.” If you just proceed to kill off the raccoons, you will have killed many innocent – and NOT rabid – animals, plus you will have a NEW animal problem: you will be overrun with rats. The same things that attract the raccoons will attract the rats. And the raccoons are keeping thgse numbers under control now. This whole idea is very short-sighted and not well thought out AT ALL.

      1. Linda Camac says:

        The comments by Ms. Welter are ‘right on’ ! Nature does not tolerate a vacuum. People who live in the city must take responsibility for their trash cans and secrue the lids tightly, each and every time. In addition, people must be responsible for keeping their homes repaired so that animals don’t see compromises in structure as a ‘hotel’. Raccoons are very misunderstood and maligned unfairly. The property where your home sits, was theirs first – let’s have a little respect for wildlife What kind of world do you want; one made up of just people, cement, and malls? That is not the world that we want!

      2. Linda Leonelli says:

        I absolutley agree with everything you have said on here Deb. Politicans and professional exterminators are NOT wildlife experts and should consult with people who understand the behavior of wild animals before they lay down their plans of destruction that will NOT work. I remember, well, the plan set in motion to kill the ‘rats’ via mass poisoning in Rittenhouse Square – poisons were accessible to children and pets! Many squirrels and other wildlife died agonizing deaths from ill-planned bad ideas!

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