White House Raccoons: Stay or Go?


The Obamas are not the only new family in residence at the White House.

A family of raccoons has also moved in, according to a news report last week in the Washington Post.

Not since First Lady Grace Coolidge kept a pet raccoon in the White House in the 1920s (see Library of Congress photo below), has there been such a fuss about raccoons at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“With permission from the Secret Service, the National Park Service has been in hot pursuit of a pack of raccoons spotted roaming the manicured grounds near the White House,” said the Post‘s report “Masked Intruders Roaming the White House Grounds.”

“Obama White House sets traps for its newest First Family,” said The Los Angeles Times in a blog report.

“Groundskeepers have set out several traps for the nocturnal creatures, using bipartisan bait — cat food, apples and peanut butter, presumably untainted. So far to no avail on the well-manicured acreage that resembles any welcoming urban park, save for the lack of blowing refuse, the heavily armed patrols, motion detectors, secret tunnels and video surveillance of every square inch.”

First-Lady-Coolidge-and-pet-raccoon-picture.jpgRaccoons Invade White House, Local Trapper Offers Free Service,” was the headline in Washington’s City Paper.

City Paper consulted Tim McDowell, owner and operator of AB & BE Animal Bat & Bird Extractors. “This may be news, but it’s no surprise to McDowell the White House grounds have raccoons,” the paper’s Web site said. “They’re all over D.C. … There are 90 raccoons per square mile. And this probably isn’t the first time the president’s address has had a problem.”

Watch an MSNBC television interview with McDowell at the bottom of this blog entry.

White House Raccoons Fan Club

Not everyone wants the raccoons removed from the White House grounds.

“President Obama: Please Keep White House Raccoons,” was the headline on the Web site of the African American Environmentalist Association.

“Raccoons are wily and know when and how to come and go without scaring or threatening humans,” said the Association.

“We believe First Lady Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha will be perfectly safe with the raccoons around. We are sure the raccoons simply enjoy the well-manicured South Lawn. They are probably just foraging for food if they can find any late at night. And imagine the thrill if you look out the window and see a raccoon scurrying across the South Lawn (or front lawn) late one night. You will know that Washington, D.C. wildlife is healthy and thriving in our nation’s capital.”

Fans of the White House Raccoons on Facebook also don’t want the new raccoons to be trapped and removed.

By midday Washington time today Fans of the White House Raccoons had 69 fans, including several who say they share the experience of raccoons living on their properties.

“I guess it doesn’t matter who you vote for,” wrote one member of the group. “There always will be crafty bandits lurking around the White House!”

I signed up too. It seems to me that the President’s Park, as the 18

acres around the White House are known, is big enough to allow the raccoons to join the squirrels and many birds already living there.


Changing Planet

Meet the Author
More than forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Max Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. In his 22-year career at National Geographic he was VP and editor in chief of National Geographic Digital Media, and the founding editor of the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directed the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. A regular expert on National Geographic Expeditions, David also lectures on storytelling for impact. He has 120,000 followers on social media: Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn