Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Eurasian raccoons

With their distinct masks and striped tails, raccoons were introduced to Europe, The Caucasus, and Japan. Raccoon dogs (Tanukis) are raccoon-like canines native to East Asia and were also introduced to Europe. Tanukis are even native to Japan. In Japan, up to 1,500 raccoons were inported as pets each year after the success of the anime series Rascal The Raccoon (1977). True raccoons are actually closely related to bears, not canines. If it weren't for human intervention, the 2 would never have met. In 2004, the descendants of discarded or escaped animals lived in 42 of 47 prefectures. The population of raccoons in Japan grew from 17 prefectures in 2000 to all 47 prefectures in 2008. All Procyonids are native to North America so raccoons are supposed to just live in North America. In Germany, where the raccoon is called the Waschbar (Literally wash-bear or washing bear) due to its habit of dousing food in water, 2 pairs of pet raccoons were released into the German countryside at the Edersee reservoir in the North of Hesse in April 1934 by a forester upon request of their owner, a poultry farmer. Coypus (River rats) were also introduced to North America, Eurasia, and Africa. Coypus and raccoons became extinct in England but both of them were nonnative. He released them in 2 weeks before receiving permission from the Prussian hunting office to enrich the fauna. Several prior attempts to introduce raccoons in Germany were not successful. A 2nd population was established in Eastern Germany in 1945 when 25 raccoons in Germany escaped from a fur farm in Wolfshagen, East of Berlin. Raccoons are also extinct on the Caribbean island of Barbados and may have been introduced there. Raccoons of the USSR were introduced from 1936 to 1962. The 2 populations in Germany are distinguishable: 70% of the raccoons of the Hessian population are infected with the roundworm Baylisascaris Procyonis, but none of the Brandenburgian population has the parasite. The estimated number of raccoons was 285 animals in the Hessian region in 1956, over 20,000 animals in the Hessian region in 1970 and 350,000 animals in the whole of Germany in 2008. By 2012, it was estimated that Germany had more than a million raccoons. Common raccoons are found everywhere throughout the United States and Mexico. The raccoon was a protected species in Germany, but has been declared a game animal in 14 states since 1954. Hunters and environmentalists argue the raccoon spreads crazy, threatens protected bird species and supersedes domestic Carnivorans. Predation is not a significant cause of death in the North American raccoon population. True raccoons and raccoon dogs both belong in the suborder Caniformia along with Bears, Mustelids, Red pandas, and Skunks.

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