Raccoons Claim Wrigleyville
LAKEVIEW—From the bustling metropolis of the Loop to the vibrant storefronts of Wicker Park, the entire city of Chicago is experiencing a significant decrease in foot traffic due to the shelter-in-place currently being enforced. Now, several weeks in, Mother Nature is starting to take notice. Coyotes have been spotted galloping down the Magnificent Mile. Squirrels are venturing into new parts of Humboldt Park. And as of this past week, the raccoons of Chicago have officially claimed Wrigleyville as their own sovereign territory.
“Keep in mind, these are northern suburb raccoons,” says Dr. Chloe Graft, 40, an animal behavior expert from the Lincoln Park Zoo. “We’re talking Wilmette, Lake Forest, Winnetka. These little guys have spent generations up there with no desire to leave. But now that the streets are emptier at night, they feel emboldened to wander south for the first time. And, naturally, they’re going to be attracted to the neighborhood with the most garbage.”
According to local security camera footage, three raccoons were spotted by Hotel Zachary on the very first night of the shelter-in-place order. The next night, that number tripled to nine. The following night, 27. The tripling trend continued to occur night after night.
“You have to understand: in the raccoon world, word travels fast,” explains Graft. “We don’t know the exact number of raccoons currently in Wrigleyville since they have now located the security cameras and destroyed them all, but it’s safe to assume that there are now hundreds of raccoons roaming Clark Street, possibly thousands.”
What makes matters worse is these raccoons appear to be highly organized. One week after the first raccoons showed up, they started erecting barricades surrounding the common entry points to the neighborhood. Each wall contains checkpoints that are supervised by armed sentinel raccoons who will refuse access to anyone who is not a raccoon. This makes entering and leaving the neighborhood quite the challenge for residents!
“I just wanted to see if Dimo’s was doing curbside service,” says Scooter Scott, 29, a Lakeview resident. “But those little guys wouldn’t even let me get close. All I did was approach the little wall they built and they hissed and pointed these huge guns at me until I went back inside my house. For such tiny paws, those raccoons have major firepower.”
Days after the barricades were built, the raccoons hung a large banner over the famous Wrigley Field sign that reads “It’s Raccoonville Now” smeared in blood, as can be seen from the Southport Corridor Demilitarized Zone. It’s pretty clear that these little bandits don’t intend to let go of the area any time soon. And their conquest might not end there.
“‘Raccoonville’ is just the beginning,” warns Graft. “Now that they’ve gotten a taste of city garbage, they’re just going to want more. If action isn’t taken, I think it’s very likely we’ll see neighborhoods like Raccoonswood, Raccoon Square, and Raccoon North by May.”
If you wish to preserve your neighborhood, now is the time to take up arms. Don your facemask, pick up your pitchforks, and storm the gates of Addison Street. Go, Cubs, go!