Campus bandits: The effect of raccoon at Iowa State


Photo: Courtesy of (Ingrid Taylar)

Raccoon on campus have taken a small toll on Facilities Planning and Management, which has 49 incident reports involving control of the furry critters.

By: Lissandra Villa

“I was on my way to pick up a friend from campus at, like, 10:30 at night. … I hadn’t noticed him until I was about three feet away from the trashcan. I heard it kind of growl at me.”

Justin Hayes, junior in pre-business, recounts his encounter. But the tale is far from the horror movie setting it appears to have.

“[The raccoon] picked the quarter out of my hand, kind of looked at me, and ran off into the bushes,” Hayes said. “Since then, I’ve seen the same raccoon about four or five times. … It always kind of walks up to me, looks at me, holds out his hands, [and] I give it another quarter or a penny or whatever I have that’s shiny on me, and it runs back into the bushes.”

Hayes, who has affectionately named the raccoon Walker the Raccoon Ranger, is not the only one who has stumbled across the nocturnal animals on campus.

There have been 49 work orders related to raccoon as of Nov. 15, according to a report by Facilities Planning and Management that started in 2000. The total amount spent on these has been $9,876.24. The report also states that responses to the calls have come to total 213 hours.

A large part of this spending has been attributed to repairing roof leaks caused by raccoon and trimming trees to avoid having raccoon climb them to reach buildings.

Other calls have included raccoon sightings during the day, something out of the norm for the raccoon.

Facilities Planning and Management often has to remove the species from their habitat, like when it turns out to be a dumpster or an empty building.

The species, considered a nuisance by both Les Lawson, manager of campus services, and Curtis Johnson, pest control operator, is inevitably a permanent resident of Iowa State’s campus.

“It’s almost impossible to get rid of them because we’re close to a river plus a crick,” Lawson said. “They’re all in the sewer system throughout Ames.”

Students shouldn’t fear raccoon — “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them,” Lawson said — but should be cautious of the fact that there’s always a possibility of rabies.

Statistically, however, a meeting with a raccoon will have no consequence.

“Enjoy the encounter,” Johnson said.