A ‘plague’ of beer-drinking raccoons ransacking people’s homes and eating their pets is causing a ‘disaster’ in Germany.
Homeowners are being hit with repair bills of up to €10,000 (£8,600) after returning from their trip to find the pesky creatures have badly damaged their kitchens.
A video posted on social media by the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, shows a raccoon trying to escape from a rescue worker’s net exiting the window of a high-rise building.
When he rushes to the windowsill to avoid being caught, another net emerges from the other side.
The encounter took place in an office building used by MPs in central Berlin earlier this summer after the creature climbed several floors.
A video posted on social media by the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, shows the raccoon trying to escape the net of a rescue worker emerging from the window of a skyscraper. When he sneaks along the windowsill to avoid being caught, another net emerges on the other side of the other rescuer
The German Embassy in London tweeted: “A surprise guest was spotted at the German Bundestag today, but the little raccoon (or Waschbär, as they say in German) couldn’t find his way.” With a little help from colleagues, the cute visitor was safely returned to the wild.
As well as drinking beer, the animals have also been seen munching on fish and pet rabbits during their invasions, The Telegraph reports.
The German National Hunting Association (DJV) says it killed a record 200,000 raccoons in 2022 in a bid to reduce the population, which had fallen from less than 10,000 two decades ago.
Scientists say the increase in population is nearly exponential, and attempts to reduce it through hunting have actually increased the birth rate.
“These animals, so cute at first sight, have become a scourge in some parts of the country,” the Frankfurter Allgemeine wrote this week.
“But the problem can no longer be eradicated, so we have to learn to live with them. In less than a century, this species has taken up residence in Germany. It is a story of both success and suffering.
Animals have been linked to the Nazis due to the period in which they were introduced.
There is a popular belief that they were released in Germany on the personal orders of Hermann Goering, the founder of the Gestapo, in his role as the head of the Reich’s Master of the Hunt, but this has been disputed by historians.
Raccoons were first released in Germany in the 1920s at a time when their fur was highly sought after.
In the video, the raccoon can be seen on the windowsill of the skyscraper when the first net appears. He can then be seen snooping around the corner as a second rescuer tries to capture him
An estimated 1,000 of the animals now live in Berlin, where they have been spotted residing in boarding buses and public high schools, as well as allotments in the city.
Berlin’s 2022 senate refused to sanction the killing of raccoons, noting it would rather encourage residents to properly lock their bins, while hunters complained they represented “a real disaster for native wildlife”.
It comes as Belgium fends off an invasion of raccoons, with at least 60,000 flooding Wallonia in the south and heading to Flanders in the north.
The animals are native to North America, but started appearing in Belgium in the 1980s.
The country’s environmental agency has issued raccoon warnings in an attempt to stop locals feeding them.
Frederik Thoelen of Natuurhulpcentrum, a Belgian conservation and environmental charity, told The Times: “Ten years ago we sometimes received a report, but often it was about escaped animals from people who were illegally keeping a raccoon as a pet, but now we’re seeing a lot more sightings coming in, and these are raccoons that were born in the wild.
“You can shoot them, but nobody likes to do that. In Flanders we are now trying to limit the damage by catching them and then castrating them or sterilizing them,” Thoelen said.
“Because they can have such a negative impact on nature, as a country you need to do something about it. Raccoons must not be able to escape. Europe is very careful when it comes to allowing raccoons on (its) territory.