METRO VANCOUVER -- More concerns are being raised after another vicious raccoon attack on a cat in Richmond was reported on the weekend.
All of the incidents — most of which have resulted in family pets being attacked, dragged away and bodies never to be recovered — have happened in the last few weeks and are concentrated in the south-west corner of the city, close to the west dyke.
Wildlife experts in B.C. have said fights between the two species do happen from time to time, but that instances of raccoons hunting and attacking cats are rare.
But the latest owner to contact the News, Karen Reynolds, isn’t convinced after seeing her cat, Coco, cornered and mauled by a pack of raccoons.
Reynolds, who lives on 7th Avenue in Steveston, was woken up at 2 a.m. Sunday by the sound of Coco the cat screaming.
“I heard all this noise out my backyard and when I went downstairs, I could see Coco was fighting off four raccoons over the other side of my neighbour’s fence,” said Reynolds.
“I was concerned about going outside when I seen the raccoons, but they were attacking my cat, so I had to do something.
“One of them backed off slightly and I managed to open the door long enough for (Coco) to get inside. I managed to rescue her but her injuries are unbelievable.”
Coco is in Richmond Animal Hospital recovering from multiple puncture wounds, scratches and bruising all over her body, face and ears and a dislocated tail.
“Her wounds are weeping so much that she is on an IV for dehydration, has a cone on her neck and a splint on her tail,” added Reynolds.
“Her body has been shaved so they can treat the wounds. She is a mess, but thankfully alive.”
Reynolds lives less than half a mile south from where the majority of the recent attacks — said to be rare by wildlife experts — have taken place.
She said she’d never had a problem with raccoons in four years of living in Steveston.
“When I was rescuing her from the attack I was throwing things at the raccoons and they didn't budge,” she added.
“(The raccoons) just looked at me and continued the attack, it was awful. They are vicious animals.
“It seems to be a problem in this area, these raccoons are roaming around, not only at night, but during the day as well attacking folks’ pets.”
On Wednesday, the Wildlife Rescue of B.C.’s Yolanda Brooks advised cat owners to keep their pets in at night.
“I understand comments about keeping pets indoors and looking back, I wish now I did, but it is sometimes difficult to do,” Reynolds said.
“I have my sliding door open to my backyard almost everyday for fresh air. What do I do? Lock the cat in a room while the door is open?”
Although Brooks acknowledged that raccoon and cat fights do happen occasionally, Richmond’s cat owners and residents are now wondering what’s causing the apparent spike.
One theory is the recent advent of the city’s Green Can program, which encourages residents to recycle food scraps — a common source of food for raccoons.
Some believe the scraps are more accessible in the new Green Cans and more odorous than they were previously in regular garbage cans, providing a greater attraction for the raccoons.
“Raccoons are attracted to garbage and if it’s more accessible, then, yes, it might attract more of them,” said Brooks.
“They’re basically scavengers. And the more food they’re getting, the healthier they will be and the more babies they will produce.
“We’ve also had a longer spring, due to the weather, so there might be more newborn raccoons to protect at this time of the year than normal. That might explain why there are more attacks.”
However, Linh Huynh, of the City of Richmond’s Environmental Programs’ department, said they’ve received no complaints about raccoons getting into the new green cans.
“It’s been a year now and we’ve had no problems that I know of,” Huynh said.
“People can wrap up the scraps in newspaper and most of the cans being used have tight fitting or snap-on lids.
“Plus, we’ve talked to other municipalities that have the same programs and they’ve not experienced any rodent problems.”
Huynh pointed out that people have always put food scraps into their garbage and that plastic garbage bags can actually increase the smell, as opposed to containing it.
Brooks also suggested that it could, in fact, be just one group of rogue raccoons that are causing all the misery for the area’s cat owners.
“It could actually be the same raccoons, because they do have their territories,” she said.
The News reported earlier this week how the owner of a dead cat has posted warning notices in her neighbourhood after raccoons dragged away her family pet of 17 years in front of her mom.
Just a week before that, a family in the same south-west Richmond neighbourhood suffered the loss of their pet, when a pack of raccoons were spotted in an apparent feeding frenzy on a cat they had killed.