Highlands & Islands

Bid to trap raccoon loose near Alladale in Highlands

Raccoon spotted near Alladale Wilderness Reserve Image copyright SSPCA
Image caption It is not known at this stage if the Alladale raccoon was the same animal as the one spotted at Garve

An animal welfare charity has attempted to trap a raccoon that was spotted several miles from where one was filmed in the Scottish Highlands.

The Scottish SPCA set a humane trap after the creature was seen near the Alladale Wilderness Reserve near Bonar Bridge on 11 March.

Last week it emerged that a raccoon was filmed by wildlife detection equipment near Garve on 17 March.

This sighting was made about 30 miles (48km) north of Alladale.

A mystery

It is not known if it is the same animal.

Raccoons are listed as one of the top 50 invasive, non-native species in Scotland. Kept as pets and in zoos, there have been several escapes in the last few years.

Image copyright SNH
Image caption The raccoon caught on a wildlife camera near Garve

Scottish SPCA senior inspector Dougie Campbell said it was a mystery how a raccoon, or raccoons, had ended up living wild in the Highlands.

He said: "We haven't received any reports of a local wildlife park losing a raccoon and we aren't aware of anyone in the area that keeps them.

"I set a humane trap at Alladale Wilderness Reserve around three weeks ago but we've not been able to catch the raccoon yet.

"It isn't completely out of the question that the raccoon seen at Alladale is the same as the one seen in Garve but it is a huge distance for it to have travelled."

'Being bitten'

Mr Campbell said people should contact the Scottish SPCA if they spot a raccoon.

He added: "If someone is able to contain the creature without putting themselves at risk of being bitten, for instance in a shed or outbuilding, this would be ideal.

"If we are successful in rescuing a raccoon we will be looking to re-home it to a zoo or wildlife park which has suitable facilities."

Snout and about: Scotland's furred and feathered escapees

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Wild boar are among Scotland's escapees

Raccoons join a list of animals that have escaped or been illegally released in Scotland.

For several years, sightings have been made in the Highlands of wild boar and also free-roaming pigs believed to be a mix boar and domestic pig.

In 2012, boar were seen in the Strathnairn area near Inverness after escaping from a farm.

Feral wild boar were spotted searching for food in the gardens of homes in Invermoriston, near Loch Ness, in 2011.

Residents told of seeing the pigs on their properties and nearby roads.

In 2002, police were involved in efforts to catch a wild boar roaming between Newtonmore and Laggan. It was later shot by a local landowner.

Beavers have also been found in Tayside and in 2008 a beaver was found dead on a beach at Eathie in the Black Isle north of Inverness.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Beavers have been found in Tayside and the Highlands

Three years ago, a large Eurasian eagle owl spent several days on the loose around Inverness city centre after escaping.

Three men claimed to have been attacked by the bird of prey, a species of owl not native to the UK.

Escaped eagle owls were previously caught in Inverness in 2009 and in 2006, when an owl was seen feeding from bird tables in people's gardens.

And in 1980, a puma was captured at Cannich, Inverness-shire.

It was taken to the Highland Wildlife Park, at Kincraig. Nicknamed Felicity, it spent five years at the park.

After the cat died it was stuffed and is on display at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

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