Raccoons in Germany

75 years ago, on 12 April 1934, forest superintendent Wilhelm Freiherr Sittich von Berlepsch released four raccoons (two males and two pregnant females) into the German countryside at the Edersee reservoir in the north of Hesse. He released them two weeks before receiving permission from the Prussian hunting office to “enrich the fauna”, as the request of their owner, the poultry farmer Rolf Haag, stated.

In the attached photograph you can see Rolf Haag with one of his pet raccoons. I don’t know, however, if it’s one of those released to the wild.

Rolf Haag and one of his raccoons, photo taken by Christoph Haag

Rolf Haag and one of his raccoons, photo taken by Christoph Haag

A second population was established in East Germany in 1945 when 25 raccoons escaped from a fur farm at Wolfshagen to the east of Berlin after an air strike. Today, the estimated number of raccoons in the whole of Germany is between 200,000 and 400,000 animals. Contrary to popular belief, the raccoon experts Ulf Hohmann and Frank-Uwe Michler, who currently leads the research project „Project Raccoon“ (German) in the Müritz National Park, have found no evidence that a high population density of raccoons has had negative effects to the biodiversity of the examined areas.

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