Photo of the raccoon in question by Basil Ashmore.
Editor’s note: Police were called to the scene of a “raccoon attack” on Columbus Avenue and 71st Street on Sunday. But far from an attack, the raccoon was simply minding its business when a horde of humans started gathering around, one witness tells us in the account below.
By Kate Koza
I left my apartment around 9 a.m. to procure a bagel at Muffins Cafe on Columbus Ave between 70th and 71st Streets. Upon exiting the premises of the cafe, I noticed a few people pointing towards 71st Street. A raccoon (I’d put him/her at about 12 pounds, medium build, standard raccoon complexion) was casually walking down the sidewalk on the west side of the street.
Prior to reaching us at the cafe, he/she crossed the street (did not look both ways, apparently he missed that unit in elementary school) and climbed up the trunk of a sidewalk tree on the east side of the street. By this time, a small group of onlookers had formed, half of whom seemed sympathetic to the raccoon, and half of whom might as well have been chanting “Lock him up!” There was much talk of the scourge of Central Park distemper.
Humans surrounded a raccoon on Sunday. Some blamed the mayor for the raccoon’s presence.
The raccoon casually climbed down from the tree a few minutes later, strolled a bit, and climbed up and down another tree a few feet up the block on the east side (towards 71st). One woman was very upset that people were stopping to take pictures, vehemently saying it “wasn’t cute” and that it posed a danger. I overheard a few calls to the police and animal control, one claiming an attack that there was absolutely no evidence of. The same person who claimed the attack was bafflingly also blaming the de Blasio administration. There was no evidence that anyone in the vicinity was injured, had been bitten, etc. Everyone was merely intrigued.
I returned to my apartment on 72nd Street after observing the raccoon for about 20 minutes, and when I came back down thirty minutes later (around 10 a.m.), the raccoon had moved to a different tree closer to 72nd Street on the east side of Columbus, and there were police and onlookers everywhere. Three police cars, a police truck, and the sidewalk had been roped-off with crime scene tape. The raccoon was nestled on a branch much too flimsy to support its bodacious physique, and had to readjust multiple times so as not to tumble out of the tree. numerous officers, including one with an animal control wand/stick were waiting below. Twenty minutes later, the raccoon hadn’t moved (its little face was gazing downward at everyone in seeming terror), and the police left and the crowd dispersed.
I would like to emphasize that I feel the suspect has been wrongly accused of any number of crimes including, but not limited to, assault on a homo sapien.
Photos (except for top one) and videos by Kate Koza.
Poor little guy! Can’t a raccoon go for a walk on the UWS without being the center of attention? And I thought that relative anonymity was one of the hallmarks of living in Manhattan!
This raccoon has a head tilt- possibly indicative is a neurological disorder.
The suspect was wearing a mask when accosted – proof positive of criminal intent!
I wanna know what UWSHebrew makes of this whole situation. He is really our go-to guy for this kind of thing. I hear that local law enforcement is thinking of bringing him in as a “consultant” on these types of neighborhood disturbances.
His keen eye and insightful analysis is always appreciated. My guess is that this raccoon was probably from one of the outer boroughs and possibly a gang member.:)
I kid because I love…:)
Homo sapiens only, I’ll leave any purported animal criminal activity to Dr. Dolittle.
Fair enough. It seems that you have a better sense of humor than many around here…even the censors sometimes.:)
We can all still joke around and have fun despite some of our minor political differences. That’s one of the things that makes this community a community…if it even is anymore.
Wild life, especially rascally ones, bridge all political and ideological divides.
Please do not call the police or animal control about a raccoon exhibiting normal behavior. They will be euthanized at the city shelter if brought there. Take the presence of wildlife as a sign of a healthy park system. And lock down your garbage, if you don’t want them in it.
Folks, that was Rocky Raccoon.
I love nearly all animals even trash pandas, especially tradh pandas, but I’ve heard that since they’re nocturnal, if they’re awake and out during the day that means they’re sick.
NYC Parks released a video explaining, although raccoons are usually nocturnal, they *can* be seen during the day and that it doesn’t mean they’re sick.
The time of day is a bit unusual – as is being that far from the park – I don’t usually see them west of CPW – unless of course they are Riverside Raccoons.
But if the damn thing didn’t attack anyone – then trap and release.
“The same person who claimed the attack was bafflingly also blaming the de Blasio administration.”
Thanks for the voice of reason.
I saw the raccoon and after he/she looked around, seemed pretty bored with those on the UWS. I wrote a blog post about and included a link to your article. Here’s the link to my entry:http://www.thelastleafgardener.com/2018/09/mondays-musings-its-not-just-for-birds.html
I love your blog post, Patricia! Thank you for adding another dimension to the story. I hope our furry neighbor made it back to his home turf with minimal trauma. Big day for the little guy!
In a day of big news, this article wins.
Thank you, Kate. This story made my day.
For anyone who’s interested in really taking the subject matter of this story to the next level, September 30 is Raccoon Awareness Day, and there are a couple of events happening in NYC Parks to mark the occasion: