Saturday, September 1, 2018

"Toronto built a better green bin and — oops — maybe a smarter raccoon"

Star:

MacDonald knows one thing for sure: our raccoons are very fat. The difficulty of tracking raccoons means we have little comparative information about their size, but urbans tend to be much larger than their rural cousins and, anecdotally, Toronto’s are known to be largest of all — “or at least we like to think so,” MacDonald said. This fits with Toronto’s proud vision of the city as “the raccoon capital of the world,” a distinction popularized by the 2011 CBC documentary Raccoon Nation.

...

The largest raccoon recorded over the two-year project was 15 kilos, roughly the size of a coyote.

...

Designed with a special raccoon-resistant lock, Toronto’s new organic waste bins, which the city began distributing to great fanfare in 2016, were perhaps the greatest human effort in what we like to call our “war” against the raccoons.

...

Toronto’s new organic waste bin had to meet strict design requirements. It had to be suitable for temperatures of 40 C, above or below 0. It had to withstand rain, snow, flash freezing and water pooling. It had to have a handle with enough resistance to keep raccoons out, but still suitable for people with disabilities. It had to be light so as not to cause injury, but heavy enough so as not to be easily toppled over. And most importantly, the lock had to be raccoon-resistant.

...

The mama ignores the kits tugging helplessly at Caroline’s bin and goes straight for mine, easily pulling it to the ground. She pops a piece of my chicken-skin bait into her mouth. Then, in one swift motion — no fumbling, no struggle — The Smartest Raccoon in East York turns the handle and opens the bin. Just like that.

...

Raccoons don’t learn through teaching, she said, quashing my theory of genius raccoons leading seminars. They simply go to where they’ve had success before. “So it’s not like it’s suddenly going to spread like wildfire,” she said.