A City Council committee yesterday debated legislation introduced by Councilman Darrell Clarke that would allow Animal Control to non-lethally rid residents of nuisance raccoons.
Many Councilmembers said that they have been inundated with calls from residents who can't pin down a city service to help them with their raccoon problems.
"It doesn't seem to be a concern to anyone unless they wake up with a furry pillow next to them," said North Philadelphia homeowner Jacqueline Johnson, who lives next door to an abandoned property and has raccoons coming through her ceiling.
Though serious, the issue led to some comical discussion about animal civil rights and dropping the critters off in the wild.
"This is the most bizarre public policy discussion I've ever been involved with," Councilman Jim Kenney said at one point, as raccoon-plagued residents and animal rights activists lobbied for and against the legislation.
"I live in the middle of North Philly. What would I look like chasing a raccoon down the street and trying to put it in a trap?" Johnson said.
Brian Abernathy of the Managing Director's Office testified on behalf of the Nutter administration and said that the bill is not only fiscally impossible, but illegal. "State law does not allow us to do non-lethal abatement," he said. "The Pennsylvania Game Commission is very clear: if you trap a raccoon, it must be destroyed."
The bill was passed out of committee and could go for a full Council vote Nov. 3.