“There is a raccoon stumbling around in my yard. It looks drunk.” This is a frequent call we get here at Creature Control. It can be very alarming to wake up in the morning and see a strange looking raccoon or skunk stumbling around the yard, apparently drunk and not afraid of humans. People often assume these animals are rabid, but more often than not this activity is caused by a disease called distemper, which we have written about elsewhere.
One small town in Texas has been overrun with distempered coons, which witnesses are describing as “zombie raccoons.” White Rock Lake, outside Plano, has reported over 250 raccoons dead or dying raccoons since January, 2013. Seventy distempered coons have been found in Plano, and more in Garland, TX. Nor is it restricted to raccoons; over a dozen distempered foxes have been found in the town of Flower Mound. One animal removal technician who picks up distempered animals for the Dallas Animal Services describes the phenomenon as “an entire population of zombie raccoons.”
Distempered animals tend to wander around aimlessly, sometimes sitting quietly, and demonstrate no dear of humans. Sometimes they appear lost and often will not put up any struggle when captured. Distemper is a tremendously contagious virus that has canine and feline forms and is akin to the disease that causes measles in people; it poses no threat to humans, although any animal can be dangerous so long as it can still scratch and bite.
Raccoons are especially susceptible to distemperment, and once the disease is introduced into a raccoon population, it can spread quickly, as the residents of White Rock Lake are discovering. If you believe you have a distempered animal hanging around, don’t attempt to approach it or apprehend it, and warn children that, even though the animal may seem tame or even friendly, it is sick and must not be touched. Call a local animal control company to have the animal picked up and removed.
If you are in Washtenaw, Livingston, Ingham, Oakland or Kent County, MI, give Creature Control a call at 800-441-1519.