- Mark down another thing you can hold against the Nazis.
We think Germany might need some help. Not only are their railroads in a complete tangle while radioactive boars encroach on southern German towns but there’s yet another problem threatening to get out of hand.
It’s raccoons. Hordes of them.
Germany’s raccoon population has exploded in the past couple of decades. The crafty, adaptable furballs have found a so-far unfulfilled niche in Germany’s ecosystem that they fit in perfectly.
That is, a city-dwelling, garbage-eating, mayhem-causing pests.
The raccoons are slowly starting to take control of the areas they’ve moved in. They rummage through trash cans and make a mess as raccoons are wont to do, but they’ve also reportedly killed and eaten household pets.
They’ve also developed a taste for getting smashed on stolen beer. At least they seem to be adapting to the German lifestyle.
Understandably, Germans aren’t very happy about their unwanted guests. The country’s hunters’ association is trying to eradicate the pests, but there’s little they can do.
In some cities, officials are directly telling them not to kill the raccoons. And even when they can try to make a dent in their numbers, the raccoons simply spawn two new ones when one falls.
A Public Menace
Raccoons are kind of adorable in their own way. That has caused some people to intentionally feed the raccoons, leaving food scraps out for them to eat.
But as anyone who knows anything about raccoons knows, the cute factor carries only so far. After the raccoons realized German cities were nice places, they decided to settle there in huge numbers.
And with the raccoons came all the usual problems they cause. The grabby little critters have no qualms about dumpster diving, knocking over Germans’ trash cans and spreading garbage everywhere.
The raccoons are more than just a nuisance, though. They can cause some real damage.
Many German homeowners have found — probably much to their horror — that raccoons like to nest inside their roofs. It’s not that they’re scared of the raccoons themselves but the bill to fix all the pried-open roof tiles and destroyed insulation.
Raccoons want more from people’s homes than just their roof space, though. Local German news report of raccoons breaking into homes to kill and eat house pets, like rabbits and fish.
They’re also drunkards. According to the nature conservation organization Nabu, raccoons living around campgrounds like to steal and break beer bottles to get to the alcohol.
On another occasion, a raccoon managed to get stranded on a high steel beam on the side of the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. Rescue workers had to remove the animal that couldn’t get down on its own.
Kind of cute? Yes. A waste of the public’s time and money? Absolutely.
But raccoons are native to North America. How did they even get to Germany?
Well, Germans can thank the Nazis for the raccoon plague. There’s a common story of how Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Germany’s propaganda minister and Hitler’s #1 man, ordered raccoons to be released into Germany’s forest to improve the country’s biodiversity.
That story isn’t true, however. Yes, Germany did release two raccoons into the woods in 1934, but it’s unlikely Goebbels had anything to do with it.
But it’s not that raccoon duo that caused the problem. It’s the 20 raccoons — being raised for their furs — that ran off when the side of their enclosure got torn open during WWII bombings.
Perhaps the Nazis didn’t intentionally release the raccoons. But they did cause WWII, so we’re still blaming them.
Thousands Upon Thousands
Those original 22 WWII-era raccoons quickly found German woods, and cities in particular, a veritable paradise. The climate, the plentiful rain, the friendly people… Germany’s perfect for raccoons.
So, those raccoons decided to settle down. It’s hard to say exactly how many raccoons there are, but we can get some indication of how many of them are hunted in an effort to rid Germany of their grabby paws.
At the beginning of the 2000s, German hunters brought down about 9,000 raccoons. A decade later, the number had swollen to almost 68,000.
Last year, in 2022, hunters killed a record number of 200,000 raccoons. Yet, there is still more to go around.
Part of the problem is that some cities, such as the capital Berlin, have prohibited raccoon hunting. Instead, they’re encouraging people to lock up their trash.
Clearly, these city officials don’t know much about raccoons. If there’s trash, there’s a way — that’s the raccoon creed.