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Furry ninjas cruise south Fargo

It's Raccoon Watch, Day 1. Rick and Lolita Fischer told city commissioners Monday that they want changes in how the city handles wild animal complaints - particularly for roaming raccoons. The couple say they've been spooked by increasingly bold ...

It's Raccoon Watch, Day 1.

Rick and Lolita Fischer told city commissioners Monday that they want changes in how the city handles wild animal complaints - particularly for roaming raccoons.

The couple say they've been spooked by increasingly bold raccoons. Lolita Fischer said she saw one 30- to 35-pound specimen staring down at her and her dog from one of the trees in their yard at 1832 19th St. S. She also recently took photos of a pair cruising for crumbs by daylight. "These two were walking around like it was no one's business," Rick Fischer said. The Fischers worry that the critters may bite a child, or spread rabies, parvovirus or raccoon roundworm to residents or pets.

Rick Fischer said the masked marauders use the storm drain system as a raccoon superhighway to get from Lindenwood Park on the Red River to the Fischers' neighborhood south of South High School. From there, the furry little ninjas treat the residential area as an all-you-can-eat buffet for garbage, dog food and birdseed, he said.

Dorothy Fecske, a fur-bearer biologist with the state Game and Fish Department, said raccoons are adaptable, like the nightlife and love to boogie - in our garbage.

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"They're a pretty opportunistic animal. They're pretty smart," Fecske said.

Terry Stoll, supervisor of the city's animal pound, said he has traps available, but it's up to homeowners to trap nuisance animals. They must also transport and release the animals, he said.

Rick Fischer said he thinks the job is best done by a trained city employee.

Police Chief Keith Ternes said his department doesn't have the resources to deal with each case, but will deal with dangerous animals, such as a rattlesnake or a bear.

The Fischers said they hope city officials will educate residents about raccoons and how to keep them away. They also asked for grills on drains.

Mayor Dennis Walker said drain grates would impede drainage after rains, so they wouldn't be a good option.

Commissioner Brad Wimmer urged the Fischers to work with neighbors to remove the food sources in the area. "I've got a gut feeling, once the garbage is gone, they'll go," he said.

Walaker offered to have the city hire a professional to remove the animals, but the Fischers said they will try Wimmer's suggestion first.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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