December 2, 2021

City to evict family — of raccoons

Raccoon stock illustration

The city of Cortland is hoping to evict a family from an over-occupied rental property — wild raccoons that have taken up residence in a garage on Grant Street for the last couple of months.

Complaints have been made to Councilman William Carpenter (D-6th ward) about raccoons living in the garage of a two-family rental property. The garage abuts properties on Charles Street, and Carpenter said that trees are covering the garage “to the point where you can’t see it.

City Deputy Police Chief Paul Sandy said he believes it “could possibly be a family of raccoons.”

Carpenter added that the complaints from Charles Street residents he has received have been mere sightings of the raccoons, and that this is an “isolated incident and not a city-wide issue.”

Sandy recently sent in a request for a permit to the state Department of Environmental Conservation to help take care of the matter. This will result in a nuisance wildlife trapper coming in to trap the raccoons and relocate them in nature.

Carpenter added that the raccoons will not be tested for rabies once they’ve been captured.

The hope was to get an approval for the request as soon as this past Thursday, said Sandy, who noted “requests during the COVID-19 pandemic can result in delays.”

“Once (the raccoons) are removed from the property, they will move to another area,” he said. “They will not be harmed or abused.”

The Cortland Community SPCA has not been involved in the situation, Sandy said.

“They don’t have a program for wildlife animals,” he said. “They simply take care of stray dogs or cats.”

Sandy has spoken to the landlord who owns the rental property, saying the owner has been cooperative and understands the situation needs to be taken care of.

“I’m bringing all of the necessary parties together to get this taken care of,” he said. “The burden falls upon the landowner to get this (raccoon issue) situated.”

Carpenter said the raccoons have not gotten deep into the properties on Charles Street, and have not entered houses or garbage cans.

“I would like to see this situation wrapped up as soon as possible,” he said. “You can’t let it continue to happen because the raccoons will create damage to other properties in the neighborhood.”

Carpenter and Sandy have urged residents in the neighborhood to steer clear of raccoons if they come in contact with them.

“You have to be very careful,” Carpenter said. “If you encounter them in the day, it could be dangerous. Just don’t get near them.”

“If and when they come out, they get nasty and could potentially be ridden with diseases,” Sandy said.

When it comes to pets, said Carpenter, making sure they’re safe from wildlife is important as well.

“Animals can be protective when it comes to wild animals so that’s a whole other thing to be on top of everything else,” he said.

Carpenter recalls “a rash of rabid raccoons” consistently popping up in the city during his time with the Cortland city police department in the 1990s.

“We had calls every day about raccoon complaints,” he said. “It got out of hand at times.”

Carpenter added that the raccoon sightings are common in the city and “happens every couple of years.”

“They especially become active during the summer,” he said. “We really don’t know why this occurs.”