Dangerous raccoon dogs spotted in Britain as public urged not to approach them

People in Wales are alarmed as the invasive and 'extremely smelly' beasts have been spotted roaming the wild. The creatures previously placed a village in England 'under siege', terrorising locals and attacking their animals    

A potentially dangerous and invasive wild species normally found in East Asia is roaming the UK countryside.

Rural people are alarmed at warnings not to approach the wild raccoon dogs which have mysteriously appeared in Wales and previously terrorised locals and attacked animals in Nottinghamshire.

And today one of the wild, fox-like creatures was captured and "humanely destroyed" in Carmarthenshire.

In 2019, Mirror Online reported that a village in Nottinghamshire was “under siege” after two "absolutely mad" raccoon dogs had escaped from an enclosure. The local police said at the time that the dogs were “potentially dangerous” after villagers spent two hours chasing off the snarling and hissing creatures after they were woken by a "blood curdling scream".

The raccoon dog is closely related to the fox and is a member of the canine species despite having a face similar to that of a raccoon. It is the size of a medium-sized dog.

They could bite if they feel threatened by approaching humans and today Natural Resources Wales and Dyfed-Powys Police’s warned people people not to approach the animal if they see it but instead dial 999.

The animal is regarded as an “invasive species” that is native to the forests of China, Japan, Korea, Siberia and Vietnam.

It is particularly distinctive due to being “extremely smelly”. Authorities fear people have been keeping them as pets which has led to them roaming the countryside.

There have been two spottings so far in Wales, including in the Pumsaint area of Carmarthenshire, near the border with Ceredigion.

Today, Natural Resources Wales said: "We have taken swift action to capture a racoon dog in Carmarthenshire, following a recent request from the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths.

 

“The Raccoon dog is an invasive non-native species (INNS) and can be harmful to our wildlife, competing with native foxes and badgers for food and shelter and predating amphibians and ground nesting birds.

“The Welsh Government has a duty under EU legislation to apply rapid measures to remove any raccoon dog. NRW staff worked with Government officials, the Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat and a qualified vet to trap and humanely destroy the reported racoon dog earlier this week.”

It is unclear where this particular raccoon dog came from or how it came to be in the Carmarthenshire countryside, but people have been known to keep the animal as a pet despite the RSPCA “strongly advising” against it.

While it is not illegal to keep a raccoon dog as a pet, the RSPCA “strongly discourages people” from doing so, and since February, 2019, it is actually illegal to sell the animal because they pose a risk to native species in Europe. It is also illegal to breed them.

 

According to the RSPCA, the dog - also known as a ‘tanuki’ - is “not suited to life as a pet in a domestic environment”.

A spokesman for the charity said: “Raccoon dogs are not domesticated pets. They need a great deal of space and their needs simply cannot be met in a typical household. They’re also extremely smelly, as they use scent to communicate with one another.”

Raccoon dogs are omnivores and therefore feed on insects, rodents, amphibians, birds, fish, molluscs and carrion, as well as fruits, nuts and berries.

The RSPCA has said that it has taken in ‘pet’ raccoon dogs in the past after the animals were no longer wanted by their owners, most probably the result of the raccoon dog “becoming unmanageable”.

“There has been a confirmed sighting of a raccoon dog in Carmarthenshire,” confirmed a spokeswoman for Natural Resources Wales.

“This is the second confirmed report of a raccoon dog in the wild in Wales, although the species has previously been reported elsewhere in Britain.

“The raccoon dog is regarded as an invasive non-native species in national and European law. Welsh Government has a duty under EU legislation to apply rapid eradication measures to remove the raccoon dog.

“Natural Resources Wales is supporting Welsh Government, the police, and the Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat.

“If you think you might have spotted a Raccoon dog (dead or alive) please report this as soon as possible to the NRW incidents telephone line on 0300 065 3000 (this is a 24 hour line) along with the location/grid reference and, if possible a photo or video footage.

As with any wild animal, their behaviour may be unpredictable and they should not to be approached.”

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Government also confirmed it was aware of the situation, saying: “We are aware a raccoon dog has been sighted in the Carmarthenshire area - officials and Natural Resources Wales are taking action in line with the EU Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.”

A village 'under siege'

In May 2019, villagers told Mirror Online that they were under siege by two escaped raccoon dogs that were terrorising locals and attacking their animals.

Police became involved after residents reported a two hour stand off with the bizarre-looking creatures.

Mandy Marsh, 53, and her husband Dale, 54, said they were woken at around 4am by a "blood curdling scream" and ran outside.

They spotted a dog-sized animal which they had never seen before in a stand off with their pet goat Betty and pony Peaches.

The couple - armed with planks of wood - said it took them two hours to chase off the snarling and hissing creature.

While the RSPCA does not describe them as dangerous. it does make it clear that raccoon dogs are wild animals which have “complex needs”.

But it returned minutes later to corner a dog walker outside their home in Clarborough, Nottinghamshire, before scarpering off.

Police confirmed two "potentially dangerous" raccoon dogs which were "not domesticated" had escaped from a nearby enclosure.

Locals reported further sightings and attacks on animals in the village.

Mandy said at the time: "It was actually terrifying.

"We were laid in bed at about 4am and I heard such a terrifying noise like I had never heard before. It was screaming.

My husband went out and opened the door and the dog shot out.

"The dog was barking like mad and my husband went out after her.

"He came back and he said to me 'you are going to have to come and see this, there is something in the field attacking the pony and I have absolutely no idea what it is'.

"We ran out and this animal - we now know it's a raccoon - was trying to attack our goat .

"The pony was standing in the way trying to protect the goat. The raccoon was trying to kill it.

"This raccoon was absolutely crazy. It was hissing and screaming and snarling. It was going absolutely mad

"We ran in with two great big pieces of wood to try and shoo the raccoon off and try and get it to go away so we could get the animals out of the field.

"The animals wouldn't move because they were terrified and this raccoon wouldn't budge either and was just hissing.

"It kept coming up and we couldn't get near enough to put something on it. The goat and pony were going crazy.

"It went on for about two hours. We couldn't get rid of it."

Mandy, who lives in a bungalow surrounded by fields, said vets said the goat was left with a sore shoulder and scratches.

She called the RSPCA who told her because it was attacking livestock, they should call police, she said.

The animal returned, and Dale ran out to confront it once more when it cornered a dog walker, after 6am.

"My husband heard this noise and shot out again," said Mandy.

"A woman came along with a dog, not on a lead, and saw the raccoon. She thought it was a cat at first.

She called the RSPCA who told her because it was attacking livestock, they should call police, she said.

The animal returned, and Dale ran out to confront it once more when it cornered a dog walker, after 6am.

"My husband heard this noise and shot out again," said Mandy.

"A woman came along with a dog, not on a lead, and saw the raccoon. She thought it was a cat at first.

She called the RSPCA who told her because it was attacking livestock, they should call police, she said.

The animal returned, and Dale ran out to confront it once more when it cornered a dog walker, after 6am.

"My husband heard this noise and shot out again," said Mandy.

"A woman came along with a dog, not on a lead, and saw the raccoon. She thought it was a cat at first.

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