Nature: Raccoon Nation
Airs Wednesday, October 31, 2012 at 8 p.m. & 11 p.m. on KPBS TV
Originally published February 2, 2012 at 4:53 p.m., updated October 29, 2012 at 12:31 p.m.
When the lights go down in cities across North America, another world is revealed, populated by shady little characters that live alongside us, but exist in the margins. These pint-size problem solvers are smart, adaptable and omnivorous, and they love a good challenge. Welcome to the world of urban raccoons.
With their busy little hands, they can do what other would-be urban animals can’t — open doors, get into attics, and raid secured trash cans. And they are especially fond of big cities, like Chicago, New York, and Toronto — the raccoon capital of the world. In cities everywhere, wherever they’ve been introduced, they have done very, very well.
Following a family of urban raccoons over the course of six months, and using high-definition cameras and intensive GPS tracking systems, “Raccoon Nation” reveals new insights about a species that is far more elusive and wily than most people ever imagined, and more destructive.
It seems that the more obstacles you throw in their way, the smarter they get. In an effort to outwit raccoons, we may be pushing their brain development and perhaps even sending them down a new evolutionary path.
One biologist who has been studying raccoons for 25 years believes the city life is in fact cultivating “über-raccoons,” ready to take over the world. Only time will tell just how advanced this “nation” of urban raccoons will become.