City hopes to get test results on raccoons

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By Joe Gorman


Health department officials say test results may be available Friday on what the ailment was of several raccoons euthanized by city police over the weekend.

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Bob Coggeshall, with the camera he used to take pictures of a raccoon in his yard, one of several in the city over the weekend that appeared sick. Coggeshall said the raccoon was very aggressive during the daylight hours toward him and his dogs.

The raccoons, which police put down with their departmental-issued shotguns, appeared to be lethargic and often had to be reeled in with snares or lassos before they were shot, because they were in the middle of a road.

Tara Cioffi, head of the city health department’s environmental division, said whenever police run across a raccoon they are forced to euthanize, they bag it and place it in a freezer at the police department.

The raccoons are then taken by local United States Department Of Agriculture staff to be tested for rabies or any other type of illness, Cioffi said.

Bob Coggeshall, a former naturalist for Mill Creek Park who still does some work there, said he first encountered one of the raccoons when he was walking his dogs at his home on Old Furnace Road during the daylight.

Coggeshall said the raccoon followed him and the dogs around his house, and he managed to get inside with the dogs. He said the raccoon then went to his door, stood on its hind legs, hissed, then fell on its back as if unconscious before getting back up and repeating the cycle.

“He repeated this same behavior several times,” Coggeshall said. Coggeshall said he has never seen a raccoon exhibit such aggressive behavior, especially in the daytime.

“I’ve never seen one that acted like this,” he said.

Coggeshall said the animal’s coat and weight appeared to be normal but the animal was also drooling excessively.

City police took six reports of raccoons that were euthanized from March 30 through Monday; four of those were on the West Side on Mahoning, Wilkinson and two on Belle Vista avenues. The other two were on Glenwood Avenue on the South Side and the Eastview apartments on the East Side.

Cioffi said the fact that city police had to put down six is unusual.

Of the six that were put down, one fell into the Mahoning River and officers were not able to retrieve it.

On Sunday, an officer was called about 6:15 p.m. to Mahoning Avenue for a report of “a half-dead, possible zombie-like raccoon,” in front of a home. The report said the raccoon appeared to be “clinging to life” against a curb. The officer lassoed the raccoon and took it behind the home where it was safe to use his shotgun on the animal.

All officers had to ask for permission from supervisors before they could euthanize the raccoons.

Officers called about 8:45 p.m. Monday to the 3000 block of Eastview Avenue found a raccoon “wobbling in one of the doorways and had a rough time walking.” The officers followed as that raccoon stumbled to a nearby woodline, where they used the shotgun to euthanize the animal.

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