INTRODUCTION Raccoons are one of the most successful and widespread North American mammals. They also have economic importance as the harvest of raccoons (about 5 million pelts/yr) generates the greatest revenue (about S90million/yr) of any furbearer species in North America (Shieff and Baker 1987). Raccoons are also one of the most commonly cited nuisance furbearer species in North America. They are members of the family Procyonidae, and have a characteristic facial mask, which portrays them as bandit-like in appearance. Their mischievous nature often results in conflicting relationships with humans. On one hand, raccoons can be a nuisance, guilty of predating on waterfowl eggs, raiding garbage containers, or causing extensive damage to residential dwellings, lawns and gardens. At the other end of the spectrum, many people elevate raccoons to a status equivalent to companion animals, hand-feeding them and often illegally keeping them as pets. Although their popularity with humans is often questionable, one fact is certain - despite human alteration of many North American habitats, raccoons are continuing to flourish exceptionally well. HISTORY/DISTRIBUTION Fossil evidence suggests raccoons (Procyon lotor) existed more than 1 million years ago during the Pleistocene (Kaufmann 1982). Today, raccoons are distributed over an approximate 9
Mammalia - International Journal of the Systematics, Biology and Ecology of Mammals – de Gruyter
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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