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Mayor Ford has another 'run-in' with city's masked bandits

Mayor Rob Ford says he had another run-in with the city’s notorious masked bandits.

“I just had a run-in last night with another raccoon,” he told reporters on Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Toronto’s mayor said he’s had some “standoffs” with raccoons outside his home and that his wife and children refuse to take out the trash because they’re scared of the urban animals.

Ford said he doesn’t know how many are in the city but that he lives in a ravine and believes there’s an increasingly aggressive raccoon population.

“But last night and again we had a standoff. And they’re brave. They just sit and stare right at you. And they’re not going anywhere. And they’re not afraid of you,” he said.

The City of Toronto says it doesn’t track wildlife, only the number of wildlife injured, euthanized or found dead. The Toronto Wildlife Centre, which rehabs sick and injured city wildlife, told CityNews it has no official count. But executive director Nathalie Karvonen said in an email “from our perspective (hotline calls and admissions), the raccoon population absolutely has not increased.”

If anything the population could be down because raccoons are battling a distemper epidemic which is killing them, she said. Distemper is a contagious and serious viral illness that affects some animals including raccoons.

Ford said “we have to do something” but he’s not sure what the solution is.

A 2011 documentary said the raccoon population has grown twenty-fold in North American cities in the past 70 years and that Toronto is the raccoon capital of the world.

Click here to view the Nature of Things’ Raccoon Nation which follows a raccoon family over six months in the city.

The City of Toronto’s website offers some suggestion on keeping them away from your yard, lawn and garbage. Click here for more details.

Here are five things to know about raccoons:

  • They’re omnivores, meaning they can eat anything. They feed on grubs, insects, rodents, fruit and vegetables. And they’re dumpster divers which is why they’re often in your garbage cans.
  • In Ontario, they breed from January to April with pups being born from March to June after an eight-week gestation period.
  • are mainly nocturnal.
  • have very flexible front paws which allows them to get into many things.
  • make many sounds including purrs, whimpers, snarls, growls, hisses and screams.

Raccoon stats compiled with information from City of Toronto website.