Environmentalists’ Mandatory Green-Bins Succeed at Breeding Smarter Raccoons

(p. A1) TORONTO–Last fall, Suzanne MacDonald spent a week tempting raccoons into her Toronto-area backyard every night with rotisserie chickens locked inside organic-waste bins.
At one point, “I had like 12 raccoons on one bin trying to get in,” said Ms. MacDonald, an animal behavior researcher who was testing bin prototypes for the city. None succeeded, she said, but “they did try mightily.”
. . .
The battle between the city’s residents and its backyard wildlife is increasingly playing out over the disposal of organic waste. Residents’ green bins–which the city collects weekly at the curb–offer a smorgasbord for raccoons and have helped their numbers increase. Torontonians say it is tough to keep the (p. A8) bins sealed and the animals away.
. . .
“The members of Raccoon Nation are smart, they’re hungry and they’re determined,” Mayor John Tory told reporters in April when he unveiled the new green bins. The bins, which feature a turn lock, will cost the city 31 million Canadian dollars ($23.6 million) and are to be rolled out next year.
. . .
Toronto was one of the first North American cities to introduce a mandatory green-bin program, as part of an effort to keep local landfills from overflowing and after years of a highly contentious cross-border garbage-disposal program in Michigan.
. . .
Ms. MacDonald believes the growing intelligence of Toronto’s raccoons may be linked to the efforts people have put into outwitting them.
Her research, which has received financial backing from the National Geographic Society, suggests urban raccoons are smarter than their “country cousins,” driven to new heights of intelligence by the humans working so diligently to outsmart them by creating obstacles.
“We’re creating our environment in such a way that they have to be able to figure them out in order to survive,” she said, “and those that figure them out will be smart and survive and pass on to their offspring.”

For the full story, see:
JANE GERSTER. “Toronto Vows to Outsmart Its Raccoons; Hoping to stymie critters, city will roll out new green bins; ‘Defeat is not an option’.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Aug. 24, 2015): A1 & A8.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story was updated on Aug. 23, 2015, and has the title “Toronto Vows to Outsmart Its Raccoons; Hoping to stymie critters, city will roll out new green bins; ‘Defeat is not an option’.”)

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