Mississauga considers plan to help residents deal with raccoons, foxes, other critters


Published March 8, 2023 at 12:10 pm

People and foxes continue to cross paths more often in Mississauga

Mississauga is reconsidering its animal services regulations so that it can be more helpful to residents who find that a family of critters has suddenly and without permission moved in with them.

City of Mississauga Ward 11 Councillor Brad Butt asked staff at today’s (March 8) meeting of general committee if it can look at ways in which rules might be amended so that the City can be more responsive to residents’ wild animal issues.

Butt said his hands were tied, in terms of being able to help out, when one of his constituents contacted him seeking guidance after a family of foxes decided to move in with them.

Currently, unless an animal is “sick, injured, distressed or deceased,” according to City officials, it’s not the City’s place to respond to circumstances in which critters have encroached on people’s homes.

In those situations, where an animal has decided to call someone’s property home or if they’re being a nuisance on the property, residents are told they must “contact a licensed and reputable wildlife removal company” if they want things dealt with.

That’s not good enough, said Butt.

“Can we re-look at things so that City staff can be involved in taking action and removing animals in a humane way?” Butt asked of City staff. “Not to belittle the private companies that do that, but I have a little more faith in our staff” to do animal removals in a safe, humane manner.

Ward 5 Councillor Carolyn Parrish supported Butt’s ask of staff, saying her Mississauga home is also home to two foxes under her deck, a raccoon and an opossum.

“It’s something we should be looking at; I’d like to see a report (from staff),” Parrish said, adding she’s shared her property with the raccoon for three years now. “In a city built along ravines and (with the) Credit River, we might have to do something with wildlife to be humane.”

City staff noted that its current role in dealing with such resident/wild animal matters is one of providing education and awareness, but that it will study the matter and return to council with a detailed report on how Mississauga Animal Services might have its role expanded.

Two weeks ago, City officials took to social media to warn residents that raccoons, while an important part of the ecosystem, can easily become a major nuisance if they take up residence in homes and businesses.

Mississauga Animal Services receives hundreds of calls each year related to raccoons on private and public property, last year taking 644 such calls, officials said in an earlier news release.

Animal Services staffers say raccoons, nocturnal creatures that can weigh between 14 and 23 pounds, are found everywhere in Mississauga and have adapted to urban living.

“They are intelligent, curious and clever animals who play an important role in our ecosystem. They help with the population control of insects and other small rodents, disperse seeds for plants and they are nature’s clean-up crew–eating remains of dead animals,” officials say, noting the masked critters don’t hibernate in winter and wake up, mostly evenings, to go rummage for food.

But “if you see a raccoon in your yard during the day, it’s normal. Raccoons can be active throughout the day, especially during certain times of the year,” officials add.

Problems for business owners and homeowners arise, though, when the ring-eyed creatures begin sifting through garbage bins looking for a meal.

While raccoons are, for the most part, found in forests, they also make their homes in neighbourhoods on properties that have sheds and underneath decks.

Animal Services officials say that if you see a raccoon on your property or find one lurking around your home:

  • avoid physical contact
  • don’t approach, disturb, scare or threaten a raccoon
  • avoid feeding or petting
  • don’t intentionally try to hurt it
  • call a licensed and reputable wildlife removal company that can safely capture and relocate it
  • keep pets indoors

If the raccoon appears to be sick, distressed or injured, call Animal Services at 905-896-5858.

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