BETHALTO, IL - A warning tonight from the Bethalto Police Chief, an unusual number of raccoons with signs of distemper are showing up in that Metro East community.
“This is a situation in which I feel individuals are potentially in danger if they would encounter one of these animals,” said Bethalto Police Chief Mike Dixon.
Dixon says in less than two months his department has taken at least 10 calls about raccoons in the community.
That high number prompted Dixon to post a Facebook message about it.
One of the latest cases, a raccoon spotted in a neighborhood near Bethalto Drive on Saturday in the middle of the day.
The raccoon was just outside of the Davidsmeyer`s home.
14-year-old Tyson Davidsmeyer saw it acting strangely.
“It went around the tree a couple of times and then it went over to our neighbor`s house. Then it went to the trash cans and had a seizure and it just flopped around like crazy. And then after that like I said it went to the sign over there and then it just passed out,” said Tyson.
His mom Diana Davidsmeyer added, “I`m shocked. I can`t believe they found that many. I mean this is the first one we had seen but ten in a small town like Bethalto that`s a lot.”
Chief Dixon says raccoons with distemper become disoriented, wander aimlessly and are often out during the daytime.
Dixon says while the animals are lethargic and can appear friendly, they can still quickly become very aggressive.
“My big worry was kids in town, young kids, approaching one of these raccoons suffering from distemper in their backyard or in the front yard or in the street, wherever it may be, and one of these raccoons aggressively attacking one of these children,” said Dixon.
Anthony Garrett lives right by where the Saturday sighting happened, he’s concerned for his kids.
“We would try to keep an eye on the area as well as explain it to the kids, you know, how it`s important to not go and try and approach these animals that may be looking like that,” said Anthony.
Chief Dixon says there is also concern about the sick raccoons possibly infecting unvaccinated dogs.
“If you do find a raccoon that is acting unusual in the daylight hours around your house, won`t run from you, is approaching you, sitting on your porch, sitting in your yard, and appears to be delusional to best describe it call the police department,” said Dixon.
Diana added, “everybody needs to look out for them.”