Scrappy little scavengers now in the hundreds are making the German capital Berlin their own. They now find even Berlin’s spacious squares, like Alexanderplatz or Breitscheidplatz, more attractive than a forest.
The growing raccoon population is leading to more calls to the wildlife hotline. On average, 50 citizens a month have questions about raccoons, reports Derk Ehlert, a consultant at the German capital’s environmental department. One of the most common: Are they lost?
Raccoons have recently become Berliners without the capital noticing much. “The population was underestimated for a long time because raccoons were hardly ever seen,” says Ehlert. Unlike martens or foxes, they could climb well and hide above sight lines.
About 20 years ago, there were hardly any raccoons in Berlin. Over the past decade in particular, the animals have multiplied so much that their population is now slowly becoming noticeable, says Ehlert.
At the moment, inquiries are piling up. In the autumn, raccoons build up a cushion for their winter hibernation – and they also like to access gardens for this purpose.
The reason for the spread and increase of raccoons in Berlin is mainly the good food supply, the warmer climate and the lack of predators, explains the wildlife expert. Professional hunting is generally prohibited in populated areas.
The little bears with their black snub noses and curly tails are not only brave, curious and intelligent, they are also omnivores. Raccoons are mostly on the move at dusk and at night.
“They use rubbish bins like supermarkets,” reports Ehlert. “They have gone from hunters to gatherers.”
While not yet a problem in Berlin, the Italian capital has a similar movement in the fauna department. Rome is swarmed by boars that have a fondness for dumpster diving.