CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Video that Corpus Christi Animal Control Services posted online shows a nightly ritual for several people: feeding an estimated 75 to 100 raccoons in the Victoria Park area, off of Oso Parkway.
Norman Hosey doesn't take part in the feeding, but living nearby, he said he's seen the animals' behavior change over the years.
“The raccoons seem like they’re becoming more civilized," he said. "They can come between two and three feet from the person that’s feeding them."
Getting that close to wild animals has Animal Care Services concerned. Agency program manager Joel Skidmore said he posted the video to discourage the feedings.
“This is not something that we’re advertising for people to come and view," he said. "This is a public-safety risk."
While Skidmore isn't aware of any raccoons testing positive for rabies in Corpus Christi, he said the possibility is always there. And, he said, they can carry other diseases as well.
He's also concerned the people who feed the raccoons are causing the animals harm by making them dependent on people for food.
Then there's the traffic. Depending on the night, there can be more than a dozen carloads of people coming out to see the raccoons.
"You have to realize there’s 75 to 100 raccoons living in an area that’s right across from a neighborhood," Skidmore said. "And the people that live there that don’t feed the raccoons don’t appreciate the traffic constantly."
Hosey isn't bothered by the traffic, but he has had a close encounter with one of the neighborhood raccoons.
“One night one was in my trash can,” Hosey said. “I heard him in there, so I just opened the door and stepped back and he jumps out and runs back across (the street)."
Hosey said he hopes that will be his only encounter with a raccoon.
Skidmore hopes people will listen to his public-health warning and stop feeding the animals, which, he said, should cause them to find homes elsewhere.
"Let us take care of the raccoons, and hopefully, they’ll naturally disperse once the feeding source is taken away," he said.