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Nature of Things documentary on Toronto's raccoons features York researchers

Nature of Things documentary on Toronto's raccoons features York researchers

We all know they’re out there, prying open garbage cans, scurrying across fences and maybe even bunking under your deck, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 10:

But urban raccoons – who look just like their country cousins but live very different lives – are rarely studied, leaving humans in the dark about what the nocturnal animals get up to while we’re sleeping.

A new CBC documentary will change that. “Raccoon Nation”, airing Feb. 24 at 8pm on “The Nature of Things”, was filmed largely in Toronto, the apparent “raccoon capital of the world”.

The film offers a glimpse into the secret lives of city raccoons, street-smart garbage-eaters who have more in common with people than you would think.

. . .

The documentary follows two researchers from York University who embark on a study that produces fascinating portraits of the lives of five raccoons that live in Toronto.

Psychology and biology Professor Suzanne MacDonald and PhD student Marc Dupuis-Desormeaux tagged the raccoons with GPS collars to log their travels throughout the city, recording them at up to 1,500 points over six weeks. They found that the raccoons live in small territories and avoid crossing major streets – which, given the risk of becoming road kill, is a key survival strategy.

For a sneak peak of what's involved in tracking raccoons in urban wildlife, visit CBC's website. More information about the documentary is available on The Nature of Things website.

MacDonald is chair of the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Health.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin