WILDLIFE

Madrid government approves “capture and killing” of raccoons and parakeets

Region says exotic invaders are threat to endemic flora and fauna

A raccoon in an animal recovery center in Soto de Viñuelas.
A raccoon in an animal recovery center in Soto de Viñuelas.MADRID REGIONAL GOVERNMENT

The regional government of Madrid has declared war on raccoons and two kinds of parakeets it considers to be a threat to endemic flora and fauna.

In just five years, these exotic species, which were being sold as pets until December 2011, have gone on the government’s “most wanted” list. The Popular Party administration of Ignacio González has approved “the capture and killing of any specimen” of raccoon, monk parakeet and rose-ringed parakeet before they become a fully fledged plague.

“There is still time to control their population growth,” says Felipe Ruza, deputy director general of the nature conservation department. Authorities also considered adding American mink to the list of unwanted pests, but thought better of it because of the animal’s physical resemblance to other species such as European polecats and the beech marten.

The parakeets are particularly aggressive with pigeons and sparrows, who are forced to migrate, and they are carriers of ornithosis, also known as parrot disease. As for raccoons, they push otters out of their homes, and are potential carriers of rabies and other diseases. The government of Madrid has captured 300 of them in the last four years.

The decision to let these animals be hunted down was published a week ago in the regional gazette, which established the rules for doing so during the 2013-2014 season. Citizens without a regular hunting license will not be allowed to take part in the hunt, and chemical pest control systems may not be used. The use of firearms will require prior authorization.