A local resident in Kambja, Tartu County, recently spotted a raccoon climbing a tree. Experts hope that the mischevious animal escaped from its owner, but it is likely just a matter of time when the raccoon will naturally nest in Estonia.
When a young child in Kambja took her family's dog out for a walk in Kambja recently, she was able to snap a picture of a raccoon climbing a tree. After receiving the picture, hunter Veljo Jalak was stunned. Now, hunters have gone to the woods to hunt the animal down, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Wednesday.
How did the North American alien species end up in a forest in Kambja? This is where the opinions of local hunters differ from that of environment officials.
Environmental Board hunting department chief Aimar Rakko said it is likely a pet that has gotten away from its owner.
Veljo Jalak, however, does not believe this to be the case. "No. Not from this region, no one in this village or municipality. Because the information has already spread and we would have gotten a call," the hunter said.
Keeping raccoons as pets has been banned in the EU since 2016, but all previously owned pets can stay with their owners until the animals pass.
There are two recorded cases of raccoons in Estonia, both from 2019, when one raccoon was spotted on the streets of Kalamaja and another got into a chicken coop in Tartu County.
Environment Board officials do not believe the animal has begun to nest in Estonia, but they fear the day when it happens, because in addition to endangering local species and spreading disease, they can also cause major issues for humans.
"A raccoon, considering their skills in opening doors, opening boxes and getting into wherever they want, they can become a headache for all homeowners. You can see that from American movies, raccoons demolish garbage bins, no one wants to see such a situation in Estonia," Aimar Rakko said.
Raccoons already nest in Germany and Lithuania naturally, causing quite a bit of trouble. Since Estonia's climate is getting more and more suitable for the species, Rakko said raccoons will likely end up populating Estonian nature in the next decade.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste