NYC’s Riverside Park Raccoons Emerge

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By the end of winter, I’m missing my regular sightings of Riverside Park’s raccoons.

There are a couple of reasons I don’t see raccoons in winter as often as the rest of the year. The first reason is my schedule. Dusk comes so early I’m rarely in the park at the right time to see these nocturnal creatures emerge from their den in the retaining wall. The second reason is that raccoons tend to be less active in the coldest months and, during the coldest days, may stay curled up in the den rather than venturing out to feed and explore.

By mid-March, days are longer and daylight savings time means that dusk comes well after 7 PM. I’m happy to report I’m seeing raccoons again. (Please forgive some blurry photos – it was pretty dark, and I’ve had to enhance the images to make the raccoon clearly visible.)

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On Sunday night, a solitary raccoon lumbered along the wall. I was struck by the pale, silvery color of its front legs and paws.

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It seemed to be moving rather more slowly and clumsily than usual.

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But it eventually made its way to its destination.

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And disappeared into a hole. Look to the right of the large hole to see the tail.

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Based on sightings from past years, there are certainly other raccoons in the wall. Before Manhattan’s raccoon rabies epidemic of 2009-2010, I once saw five or six raccoons emerge from a single hole in the wall. In recent years, I’ve seen no more than three. And this winter, I’ve seen only one at a time.

But spring is coming, and I’ll be watching.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2013, In the City, NYC Parks, raccoons, Riverside Park, Wildlife/Natural History

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2 Comments on “NYC’s Riverside Park Raccoons Emerge”

  1. Andre Says:

    i’m not a fan of raccoons in residential areas because they can be violent nuisances… but they can be useful in the park. They should help cut down on the rat population.


    • Hi Andre, Yes, raccoons are often trouble in residential areas – I’ve certainly experienced that side of them when I lived in Texas and also vacationing in Cape Cod. I’ll have to write about those experiences some day – truly amazing. But I love to see them in the parks, now that the rabies epidemic is history and their numbers are a bit more sustainable. As with so many “pests,” we really wouldn;t have much trouble if we could just keep from luring them, intentionally or unintentionally, with food and trash. And Andre, do they really keep the rat population down? That would be a benefit to their presence, indeed!


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