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Monday, May 28, 2007

 

‘Nazi raccoons’ tormenting Germans

‘In 1934, top Nazi party official Hermann Goering received a seemingly mundane request from the Reich Forestry Service. A fur farm was seeking permission to release a batch of exotic bushy-tailed critters into the wild to “enrich the local fauna” and give bored hunters something new to shoot at.

Goering approved the request and unwittingly uncorked an ecological disaster that is still spreading across Europe. The imported North American species, Procyon lotor, or the common raccoon, quickly took a liking to the forests of central Germany. Encountering no natural predators — and with hunters increasingly called away by World War II — the woodland creatures multiplied and have stymied all attempts to prevent them from overtaking the continent.

Today, as many as 1 million raccoons are estimated to live in Germany, and their numbers are steadily increasing. In 2005, hunters and speeding cars killed 10 times as many raccoons as a decade earlier, according to official statistics.’




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