Torontoians are many things, Canadian, polite, even patient, but they are not known for their love of raccoons. That’s because the pests live in all parts of the city, have adapted to city life, love the contents of recycle bins, defecate all over the place, and sometimes destroy property. One raccoon climbed 2013 meters to poop on top of a crane. Think of them as fury motorcycle gang members on crank.
How many raccoons does the city have? Nobody knows since there has never been a census but an estimate from the 1980’s put the number in the tens of thousands. Ask a home owner and he will tell you there are more raccoons in the city than people. I knew one resident who hoped the advent of coyotes within the city would curb the raccoon population.
However, this story is about one raccoon, which has been named Conrad for no apparent reason. At 9:05 AM, Conrad was reported dead at the corner of Yonge and Church, This is one traffic light north of Bloor and Yonge, and only minutes from the heart of the financial district. It’s right downtown.
Conrad’s body was reported to the City Services which responded that animal services had been contacted and the raccoon would be removed shortly.
At 3:15 PM, Conrad’s body was still on the sidewalk. However, some mourning member of the public had laid a flower on the poor raccoon’s body and left a condolence card. A framed picture of a raccoon stood at the body’s head.
About that time Councilor Norm Kelly became involved as he tweeted “Please have staff pick up this raccoon at 819 Yonge St.”
At 4:50 PM the body remained unclaimed and the memorial had grown.
At 8:37 PM the body remained and the memorial now contained several bunches of flowers as well as notes from people.
Getting into the spirit of the Dead Raccoon movement Norm Kelly tweeted “Residents are being asked to keep their green bins open tonight in honour of #DeadRaccoonTO,” at 9:12 PM.
At 10:23, after the sun had set on poor dead Conrad, his body remained on the sidewalk. Kind people had added several lit candles to his memorial. Perhaps they held a vigil for him. Someone added a donation box. The message on it read, “The proper authorities will only move the little fella when enough funds are raised. Please donate generously…”
Finally, after 11:00 PM, the city workers arrived to remove the dead raccoon body, but left the memorial on the sidewalk.
In Toronto, the city won’t help it citizens with live raccoon issues. The official position is that humans are the problem, not the raccoons. The new mayor, John Tory, thought the solution would be a new green bin that is raccoon proof. I’m certain I heard the same thing about the previous bin. If the new bins work raccoons will be forced to return to digging in compost bins.
Since raccoons carry diseases such as Raccoon Roundworm, Leptospirosis and Rabies, a dead raccoon on the city street isn’t just a laughing matter. It is a health hazard, especially when the cause of death isn’t apparent.
The impromptu memorial and tweets have traveled all over the place. You might have seen the story in the Belfast Telegraph, Minnesota Public Radio, or on Colorado’s 9News. This is the kind of media you can’t buy and certainly the City of Toronto never wanted.
Maybe the next time the public reports a dead animal carcass on the public sidewalk someone will respond in less than twelve hours, but don’t count on it.
To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net