Normally annoying people and sanitary departments alike in the U.S., the raccoon has invaded Europe and Japan thanks to Nazis and anime.
They make peculiar bedfellows.
In Europe, the raccoon plague started when the Nazis' Reich Forestry Service decided that it would "enrich the fauna" by introducing raccoons into the German wilderness, a move bewildering to even the most steadfast Nazi supporter. Raccoons were also kept in fur farms in the German countryside.
As for Japan, it all started with a popular anime show in the 1970s called Rascal the Raccoon. As a result of the show, Japanese kids brought in raccoons as pets at the rate of about 1,500 per year. Most of these pets either escaped or were tossed out by their owners, because a raccoon is kind of a pain in the ass to keep indoors.
The perfect pet for the communicable-disease-loving child in your life.
"MY GOD ... WHAT HAVE WE DONE?"
As you should've learned by now, introducing a nonindigenous animal into an ecosystem can have terrible results. The raccoons caused staggering agricultural losses with their insatiable appetites. In fact, at one point they had pretty much wiped out the German winemaking industry by eating the harvests of numerous vineyards. They've even been known to damage UNESCO World Heritage temples in Japan.
Germany has declared raccoons to be a game animal and encourages people to hunt them, while Japan has made it illegal to import them or to keep any as pets.
You can't blame them, when they carry umbrellas and wield their scrotums like clubs.
Karl Smallwood and Danny Vittore are both freelance writers. You can follow Danny on Twitter here.
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For more ways we've boned up with Mother Nature, check out 6 Animals Humans Accidentally Made Way Scarier and 6 Natural Disasters That Were Caused by Human Stupidity.
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