While walking their dog in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, Marc Estoque and his son were confronted by a pack of raccoons in an encounter he described as “surreal” and “like out of a movie.”
They were on a trail next to North Lake near 43rd Ave. and Fulton last week when the animals started coming out of the bushes alongside the trail, as reported by SFGate.
In a photo Estoque took, 10 raccoons stare at his son while four others hang out in the bushes.
“We were both a little shocked,” Estoque told NBC Bay Area.
“It was so surreal…a posse of bandits…like out of a movie,” Estoque told SFGate. “And then two minutes later there was a coyote. I was waiting for the unicorn to pop out.”
Matthew Schweitzer, a San Francisco City College professor specializing in urban wildlife, told NBC the raccoons are likely becoming accustomed to humans and that it’s not unusual for the animals to travel in packs and start begging for food.
People have been warned against feeding the animals but wildlife ecologist Jonathan Young knows people still do.
“I’ve seen it first hand in that area and people were feeding them in broad daylight,” Young told SFGate. “And there were at least this many people huddled around that person. It’s not good. It’s really bad.”
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The raccoons can be aggressive. There have been reports of attacks, and Young’s colleague recently was bitten by one on her patio.
“Unfortunately, it’s a big problem in San Francisco,” Amy Corso of S.F.’s Animal Care and Control told SFGate. “Feeding wildlife alters their behavior and can cause lots of problems. Animals that are fed by people become dependent on human food and may lose their natural fear of humans and their ability to forage for natural foods.
“There’s a saying, ‘Fed wildlife is dead wildlife.’”
As for Estoque, he told NBC, “I think we’re going to be a little cautious going down there again.”
Photo courtesy of Marc Estoque.