Raccoon clan terrorizes native animals in rural Austria
The hunters have tried to capture the creatures on several occasions, however, this never seems to work as they are very intelligent.
A group of playful raccoons has been rampaging around the small Austrian town of Wies for weeks now. Hunters have tried and so far failed to catch them with traps, as raccoons are a threat to native species, especially small game like pheasants and ducks.
According to a report by the ORF, the animals were spotted on a hunter’s camera following a particularly poor hunting season. A clan of four raccoons roam the Austrian countryside in search of food.
The American invasion
Raccoons are native to America and given the relative absence of large predators in Europe, they have a particularly good time hunting. In addition, raccoons are also very intelligent. Numerous studies have placed them at the high end of the mammalian intelligence scale.
According to researchers at Vanderbilt University, they have 483 million neurons in a relatively small brain. By the number of neurons alone, they should rank somewhere near smaller primates. Researchers also believe that raccoons are smarter than dogs.
For example, in a test, scientists placed stones in a tube with water, to raise the water level and bring a treat to the top. The raccoons were able to replicate the movement by watching the scientists and even come up with a better solution – invert the tube and empty its contents. This is a solution that many other animals would not try.
Catch Me If You Can
Charming and intelligent predators arrived in Europe centuries ago, as part of the fur trade, and this is still the main reason people still keep raccoons in farm conditions. However, according to the Huntmaster (LandesjÃ¤germeister) Franz Mayr-Melnhof Saurau, many people also keep them as pets or in small private zoos. In these situations, it is very difficult to keep track of the escaped animals, as many cases go unreported.
He also explained that despite their obvious charm, raccoons can hunt certain species of low-branched nesting birds to extinction. In addition, a notable lack of top predators in Europe leaves them unchecked and hunters must intervene.
According to ORF, they managed to capture one several times, however, the cunning mammal managed to open its cage door and escape. A local hunter explained that the raccoons enter the trap, eat their fill of apples, rest, then they lift the hatch with their heads and exit.