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Fairlington Residents Are Being Terrorized By Pugnacious Raccoons

28th Street S. in Fairlington, scene of a raccoon attackA Facebook page for Fairlington residents is abuzz with renewed fears about raccoons attacking people and pets.

The latest attack happened Sunday night on the 4800 block of 28th Street S.

“Last night my husband and I were in our living room when we heard HORRIFIC screams coming from outside,” a resident wrote. “We went outside and learned a woman was being attacked by a ‘cute’ raccoon. The paramedics were called.”

Raccoons usually don’t attack humans unless they are rabid or defending their young. So far, authorities have not warned about the Fairlington raccoons potentially being rabid, although victims have received rabies shots.

The latest attack followed another incident in June, in which a raccoon attacked a woman and her dog, prompting a community meeting. That attack was said to be the result of a raccoon defending its young against the dog.

A third raccoon attack in Fairlington was reported last August.

Photos of a family of raccoons uploaded to the Fairlington Facebook page (photo by Lilia Ward)Sunday’s attack came just two days after a nearby resident posted photos of a raccoon family of five on her third floor balcony; reaction to the photos was split between those who found the raccoons adorable and those who found the encounter terrifying.

WJLA’s Stephen Tschida reported on the attack during last night’s 11 p.m. news broadcast. Two raccoons “jumped on [the victim] and mauled and scratched her head, arm, and her leg,” Tschida reported. The broadcast showed a photo of a raccoon attack victim with numerous deep, bloody gouges on her arm.

Since the attack was first reported, at least one other raccoon sighting has been posted to Facebook.

“We were just walking our dog and spotted two raccoons in the parking lot where our neighbor was attacked yesterday,” a resident wrote. “They were on the front porch of a building and weren’t even bothered by the porch lights. One of them made a loud screeching sound then they scurried away. Please be careful if you are outside!”

“Something needs to be done,” said another resident in response, echoing the sentiment of others. However, the Facebook chatter has split those who want the raccoons to be trapped and euthanized and those seeking a more humane solution.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, meanwhile, says it is encouraging the management of Fairlington’s condo associations to re-examine its trash collection system. Currently, residents are instructed to leave bags of trash out in front of their homes in the morning for collection. Still, some ignore the instructions and take out the trash at night.

“The latest attack involved raccoons foraging in trash bags that were left out at night for pickup the following day,” said AWLA’s Susan Sherman. “We have advised Fairlington’s management that the way to curb future attacks is to make sure that all trash is secured in closed bins rather than being left on the curb in plastic bags.”

“Residents should keep their distance from wildlife and should keep their immediate outdoor area free of attractions such as trash, pet food, and bird feeders,” Sherman added.

AWLA is also directing residents to a recap of the July meeting it held in Fairlington on the topic of human and wildlife interactions.

Photo (bottom) by Lilia Ward

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