Raccoons to be trapped, removed from park

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LIDO KEY, Fla. - They may look cute, but raccoons at Ted Sperling Park on Lido Key have become a problem for visitors. Now, Sarasota County has hired a wildlife removal service to trap the critters.

The animals can be seen on picnic tables, eating out of trashcans, and at times, even begging for food from humans. They are very tame, mainly because humans are feeding them, even though there are signs posted throughout the park asking people not to.

"One time we came out here during sunset and there had to be 50. It was unbelievable. It was scary there were so many," said Bonnie Turgeon, a park visitor.

In some cases, the raccoons have even ruined people's picnics.

"We had an experience when we were frying fish and the next thing I know, all of the stuff disappeared from the table," said park visitor Rose Roma. "Took all of our food when our backs were turned."

Sarasota County has heard enough. Citing safety concerns, officials have agreed to hire a company to trap and remove the raccoons. It's a move some park visitors are applauding.

"It makes things safer for the kids," said Roma.

"They could be a nuisance. You never know if they are rabid or something like that," Turgeon said.

Unfortunately for the raccoons, they may be out of luck. Since they have adopted to life with humans, it's likely they would not survive if released into the wild. The trapper has the authority to humanely euthanize the animals.