"Raccoons can reproduce in the wild in Flanders"

Could Flanders have a problem with wild raccoons? There are more and more indications it's a 'yes'. The Institute for Forestry and Nature Research (INBO) announced there are strong indications that the animal can reproduce in the wild, after analysing autopsy data from raccoons that died in Flemish woodlands.

Last year, the cadavers of 5 raccoons were found in Flanders: 4 in Flemish Brabant and 1 in Antwerp province. The animal in Antwerp was a young female of about 5 months and had been in excellent condition. The contents of her stomach revealed she assembled her food in the wild. "This means there's a big chance the animal was born in the wild", researcher Koen Van Den Berge of INBO explains.

One of the raccoons found in Brabant, was a female that had cubs in 2014. The reason that Van Den Berge does not want to draw final conclusions, is that it's always possible the animals were released by someone raising them in captivity first.

Raccoons are an invasive species which is not wanted in Flanders. The EU recently issued a list containing 37 names of plants and animals which are not native to Europe, and which could harm other species here. Raccoons are part of this list. The animal has already created a habitat in the area south of the Sambre and Meuse rivers, in Wallonia.