The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) fined a Wyoming County couple for unlawfully possessing a raccoon as a pet.
Earlier this month, an officer received an urgent call from the Erie County Department of Health requesting assistance locating a potentially rabid raccoon. Raccoons are a rabies vector species and therefore considered a dangerous wild animal in New York State.
According to the county, a man and his girlfriend took the animal to a pet store to get food and supplies, and one of the store’s employees contacted authorities.
Using store surveillance cameras, a store-issued rewards card, and license plate information, the officer tracked down the raccoon’s owner to Attica in Wyoming County and convinced the subject to turn over the raccoon.
The animal was transported to a veterinary hospital for testing.
The two individuals were charged for unlawfully possessing the raccoon and the owners each face a $500 fine. Rabies test results for the raccoon were negative. DEC urges the public to leave wild animals alone. Possessing wild animals is not only unlawful, doing so can be deadly. Once a rabies infection is established, there’s no effective treatment.