River Cities

Miami Springs kills dozens of raccoons wandering golf course

The 16th hole at the Miami Springs municipal golf course is where legions of raccoons have been spotted climbing into carts and harassing players.
The 16th hole at the Miami Springs municipal golf course is where legions of raccoons have been spotted climbing into carts and harassing players. For the Miami Herald

A legion of raccoons is raising a ruckus at the Miami Springs municipal golf course, and the city has responded by killing dozens of the masked mammals.

“The situation became a danger to humans,” said Paul O’Dell, golf course director. “We had our golfers and maintenance staff being endangered by aggressive raccoons going into golf carts to look for food and hissing at our staff.”

O’Dell said the 150 raccoons he spotted on the course “in the middle of the day” preferred the 15th and 16th holes.

The city hired an exterminator to capture and kill 37 raccoons during December and January, according to records obtained by the Miami Herald through a public records request. The cost of the “service” done “in accordance with state law” was $1,590, or $42.97 per raccoon.

The future does not bode well for the remaining 113 raccoons.

“We just started setting traps again” Friday, O’Dell said.

However, one resident objects to killing raccoons.

“Who gave the execution order to spend tax dollars on killing our wildlife?” said Martin Marquez, who lives near the golf course. “They should be caught humanely and released in other parts of the state.”

Miami Springs became a “tree city” in 1994 and its bountiful tree canopy provides a natural habitat for raccoons.

“Declaring war on wild animals just because they reside in close proximity to humans is both cruel and ineffective,” said Catie Cryar, media coordinator for PETA. “If officials truly want to reduce the number of raccoons in the area, they should enforce wildlife feeding prohibitions.”

Cryar thinks that the city’s trap-and-kill program will backfire and increase the raccoon population. The resulting spike in the food supply, she said, will accelerate the breeding of survivors as well as encourage the inevitable arrival of newcomers.

Instead, PETA suggests other methods of deterring raccoons that include curtailing food sources, trimming branches away from structures, or installing motion-activated sprinklers or electronic sound repellents such as the YardGard.

In the meantime, the city’s trap-and-kill program remains in effect.

“Our trapping program has helped tremendously with raccoons,” O’Dell said. “That is why it is still ongoing.”

The golf course staff warns players not to leave food in the golf carts.

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