Raccoons Run Amok In West Philly Neighborhood

Raccoons Run Amok In West Philly Neighborhood

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The abandoned house where raccoons have taken up residence. The abandoned house where raccoons have taken up residence.
PHILADELPHIA -

Scenes like this are all too common in some Philadelphia neighborhoods: families of raccoons, running amok!

There's the damage they do, plus the possibility of spreading of rabies!

FOX 29's Bruce Gordon spent the day in West Philadelphia, where raccoons have taken over one block in particular, the 1400 block of North Hobart.

83-year-old Frances Drake is the center of attention at this impromptu meeting of Hobart street neighbors. She's lived on the 1400 block for more than half a century. She knows what it once was, and what it's become.

"My heart is aching. My heart hurts," says Drake. "I see blight. I see frustration."

The immediate problem, raccoons. They've set up shop in the vacant and crumbling home at 1412 Hobart. Those who live on either side feel like prisoners in their own homes.

"When you're sleeping at night, you can hear all the scratching- like they're tearing at the wood. And this was scaring me," describes neighbor Sandra Berry.

"They can come through my house and I have a one year old daughter, and my daughter can't come outside and play-- that's my whole concern is," explains another neighbor.

Blighted neighborhoods like these are a magnet to raccoons: they are drawn to the readily available trash that lines the streets.

And they nest in long-abandoned structures. For example, a hotspot in the neighborhood is a house that burned down a few months ago.

"If you put your window up with the screen, it walks the roof. We call each other, 'Put your window down! Something's going to happen!' And you can see them walking the roof," says Drake. "We are invaded."

Blocks like this are full of vacant houses, whose owners have either died or simply moved away.

Frances Drake says there are far fewer home owners here than there used to be. There are far more renters, whom she fears, do not seem as invested in fighting to save their neighborhood.

"I'm very frustrated," says Drake.

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