The Raccoon Club

{fun fact no. 1: a group of raccoons is called a gaze.}

Arkansas State Act 1352 of 1995 changed the state’s nickname on the grounds of,

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Art by Angie Freese

“our unsurpassed scenery, clear lakes, free flowing streams, 20 magnificent rivers, meandering bayous, delta bottomlands, forested mountains, 21 and abundant fish and wildlife.”

From 1995 on, Arkansas became known as The Natural State. The name fits, there is a lot of natural beauty to be found in this fair state.

There is also a lot of wildlife to be found. Everywhere.

Including the metropolitan campus of University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) where we have a very real raccoon problem. If you are a lucky soul who doesn’t know about city wildlife, let me inform you that the adage, “they are more scared of you than you are of them” does not apply.

City wildlife creatures are fearless, arrogant, angry, and ready to steal food from your garbage and your hand if you aren’t careful.

On campus I have heard students talk about raccoons approaching them because they had food. My old boss on campus told me about her grad school years and how a raccoon tried to climb on her for pizza. It may sound cute, but they are still wild animals that have no intentions on becoming domesticated.

Students take pictures of the raccoons, some brave enough to get close enough to try for selfies, others send videos on SnapChat of raccoons chasing people who got too close to their trashcan.

The raccoons don’t care if you are a student, faculty member, or the Chancellor. At this point, when the sun goes down, campus is theirs.

You may be wondering why no one has done anything about this issue. Campus isn’t safe for students and the raccoons would be safer somewhere without round the clock traffic.

Facilities has been trying to use live traps and catch and relocate¬†the animals but they only manage a few here and there and there are as many as one hundred raccoons on campus. Calling in professionals would be the next choice, but estimates are that it will take $150 per raccoon which adds up really fast and is not an expense any department’s budget can take.

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Raccoon at UALR taken by Tanner Sullivan

Taking initiative, Ross Bradley, a Graduate student and Communications and Special Projects Coordinator for the Provost called up his friends (including me) and asked if we wanted to start a club.

Strings were pulled, a constitution was drafted, and I am now happy to inform you that UALR will be starting The Raccoon Club (name subject to change). Our hopes are to raise money in order to have specialists catch and relocate the animals on campus.

In Arkansas raccoons are considered ‘nuisance wildlife’ and may be trapped and relocated at any time as long as the traps have the trappers information on them, are not a danger to dogs or other animals, and the raccoons caught must be relocated and released within 24 hours of capture.

I am aware that relocating raccoons can be risky and many frown on it. Raccoons that have adapted to the city may not do well in the wild and sometimes babies are left behind with no mother. However, raccoons carry infectious diseases that are transmittable to humans and pets including: distemper, roundworms, salmonella, leptospirosis, and rabies. Our group is going to work with Arkansas Game and Fish and the best group we can find to help us relocate the raccoons.

We are hoping to make campus safer for those living there and while we know that we will never be able to eliminate the problem, it is our hope that with the funds for a caring specialist who has success for locating raccoon families and relocating them, we can make UALR a little safer for humans and critters alike.

If you are a UALR student interested in joining, feel free to comment and I will send you an email with me more information. Or you can contact me on Twitter @mdhendricks12. 
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