First They Came for the Trash Cans: Nazi Raccoons in Europe
The story begins in 1934, when a breeder asked the Reich
Forestry Office, then led by future top Hitler aide Hermann Göring, for permission to release the masked-faced mammals to "enrich the local fauna" outside Kassel, a small city north of Frankfurt.
"Raccoon pelts were a popular trophy for hunters back then," biologist Ulf Hohmann said. "They were also raised for their fur at special farms" after they were imported from North America early last century.
Seventy years on, the furry critters are now as populous in some areas of Germany as in the major urban centers of North America -- a whopping one per hectare (2.5 acres), Hohmann said.
A raccoon's urban paradiseBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: A raccoon's urban paradiseSomewhere between 100,000 and one million raccoons are estimated to live in Germany, making them prime targets for hunters. Some 20,000 were shot during the last season, according to official statistics. But unfortunately for the denizens of a growing number of European capitals, they like cities.