Gaze of Raccoons Sneak Onto White House Grounds

By Lindsey Ellerson

Feb 5, 2009 12:17pm

The Jonas brothers are not the only cute ‘n cuddly ‘n unexpected guests spotted at the White House in recent days.

As first reported by the Washington Post’s Michael Shear, ABC News has learned that a gaze of raccoons — one large one and several medium-sized ones — have invaded the 18 acres of the White House grounds and are currently in hot pursuit by the National Park Service.

Live traps bearing ulteriorally-motivated gifts of cat food, apples, and peanut butter (hopefully salmonella-free) have been set up throughout the grounds to capture the raccoons without hurting them, with the goal of releasing them into a more wooded area of Washington, D.C.

White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton tells ABC News that "the idea of raccoons on the White House grounds give us great paws." (Cue rim-shot.)

Combined with the 36-acre Ellipse to the south of the White House and other surround lands, the 18 acres of White House sits on "President’s Park" which has been designated Park Reservation Number One and is maintained by the National Park Service.

The raccoons were spotted by National Park Service personnel on the grounds; they do not seem to have invaded any White House trash cans. Yet.

– jpt

UPDATE: ABC News’ Brian Hartman reminds us that raccoons in Washington, DC, can be dangerous. Last October, the Washington Post reported that the District Department of Health was trying to locate a Latino male teenager seen holding a rabid raccoon. "Metropolitan police officers found the raccoon in an alley unable to walk and sneezing in the 700 block of Kennedy St. NW…The raccoon was euthanized and then tested for rabies, a fatal disease that attacks the central nervous system…A boy told the officers that he saw a teen playing with the raccoon earlier…"

The first human death due to a rabid raccoon was in 2003 in nearby Northern Virginia, I might add.

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