Wolves and golden jackals may be in the news for flouting border regulations and finding their way illegally to Denmark, but the raccoon dog crept under the wire some time ago.
Figures from the the Environment Ministry based on kills registered by hunters last year reveal that there are now probably around 5,000 to 6,000 of them in Jutland, and a few individuals have already been spotted in Funen.
Originating in Asia, the first raccoon dog sightings were registered back in 1980, but they were very rare until comparatively recently, with only 25 being recorded between 1995 and 2003, reports TV2 Nyheder.
The population is now mushrooming alarmingly from an estimate of around 2,000-3,000 last year to doubling this year.
Wiping out endangered species
Raccoon dogs are undesirable because they are good swimmers and can wreak havoc in ground-breeding bird colonies. They eat anything from insects and reptiles to small mammals, eggs, corn and maize. The animals have also been seen in private gardens in the centre of Aarhus.
Due to the vast increase in numbers, a plan was set in motion with the intention of exterminating the animal in 2015. As the latest figures reveal, this has not worked and it is an open question whether it can now be achieved.
“I wouldn’t say it is impossible, but it is going to need an enormous effort. It is our expectation that over the next few years we will see more than 10,000 individuals,” a special consultant in species and nature protection, Mariann Chriel, told TV2 Nyheder.
All guns blazing
Hunters have been given permission to shoot them all the year round, and in November six individuals were caught and fitted with GPS transmitters in the hope they will lead the authorities to potential mates that will then be shot.
Over 60 volunteer groups of hunters in Jutland have banded together with the intention of preventing the animals establishing themselves on Funen, but they may be fighting a losing battle.
Puma – or Addidas?
A number of citizens in Jutland also claim to have seen a big cat on the prowl. Several people contacted police in March, and in May a jogger saw a large cat-like animal cross a path north of Vejle, reports DR Nyheder.
“The ears and body shape were like a cat, and it was broad and muscular. It was obviously a wild animal,” the jogger told DR.
While taking the reports seriously, a police spokesperson said after an initial visit to the scene didn’t turn up trumps, they didn’t have a clue where to look. The Environment Ministry was also sceptical, but said if the animal was a puma, it couldn’t have got there on its own. The possibility that an animal has been imported illegally and escaped could not be ruled out.