City Testing ‘Sickly’ Raccoon Found Near Playground in Riverside Park

The city is testing a raccoon found last week near Neufeld Playground near 76th Street in Riverside Park to determine if it has canine distemper, a virus that has killed more than 100 raccoons in Central Park this summer. (Neufeld Playground is also known as Elephant Playground.) After two humans were bitten while attempting to separate their dogs from raccoons, the city told dog owners not to let their dogs off leash, even during off-leash hours before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m.

Canine distemper does not impact humans or dogs that have been vaccinated against it, according to the city. In general, it makes raccoons lethargic, though other health agencies have warned that it can make them aggressive if they are approached.

A tipster told West Side Rag that she saw the raccoon on Monday morning.

“On Monday at about 915 am in Riverside Park on the path outside Neufeld Playground we spotted a sickly racoon. It was an awful site, tripping over itself and finally settled in a bush off the path. A passerby called 311 that connected to 911 and we stayed long enough until we found a parks person to handle. Parks person thought it could have been a baby that fell from a tree, or maybe a victim of recent pesticide, but as dog owners that have been avoiding Central Park we are nervous it could be a distemper spread.”

Urban Parks Rangers did pick up a raccoon in Riverside Park and take it for testing, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department confirmed. She said she’ll get back to us when the test results come back. There have been no confirmed cases of canine distemper in Riverside Park, she noted, and the city has not made any recommendations about keeping dogs on leashes.

In Central Park, “the finding/collection of sick raccoons has slowed,” the spokeswoman wrote. But the city is still telling people to keep their dogs on-leash.

NEWS | 1 comment | permalink
    1. laura says:

      Please give us an update on the raccoon