Sunday, June 5, 2011

City too broke to help with raccoons: Councillor

There is no way the financially-strapped city can afford to compensate residents for damage caused by raccoons, says a city councillor. 
And Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker knows what it’s like to fall victim to the masked bandits.
He recently shelled out $4,000 to fix his roof after ridding his attic of two raccoons.
“People need to take a deep breath and calm down a bit,” said  De Baeremaeker, who represents Scarborough Centre (Ward 38). “We all have to realize that raccoons happen, foxes happen, squirrels happen. Face it, nature is in the city.” He urged homeowners to have unwanted animals removed in a humane manner and to take steps to keep them out. 
De Baeremaeker said the city is “broke” — it faces a $774-million budget shortfall next year —  and to compensate people for raccoon removal or for damage done to homes by the animals is unrealistic. 
“It doesn’t make sense. These are acts of nature, so to speak. If a tree falls on your house because of a wind storm, you’re not going to (call the city for compensation).” 
Residents in a Bloor St.-Lansdowne Ave. neighbourhood held an anti-raccoon rally over the weekend, calling on the city to step in with assistance. One of their neighbours, Dong Nguyen, was arrested for bashing baby raccoons with a shovel in his back yard. 
Back decks, uncapped chimneys, loose roof vents and damaged, floppy shingles are all places where raccoons can infiltrate, said Joe Brouno of Snap Pest Control. 
“If you have old or loose shingles on your roof, they will take those little hands and rip through those shingles,” Brouno said. “It can be pretty nasty once they get in there, too.”
Raccoon proofing an average sized, detached house could run anywhere from $400 to $1,000, depending on how much needs to be done, Brouno said.  
Some work could include sealing the back deck with steel mesh, applying spike strips to the tops of wooden fences that come in contact with the house and capping the chimney.
The removal of raccoons could cost anywhere from $350 to $550.

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