WildSafeBC said Cranbrook and Kimberley are seeing a rise in raccoon sightings, more than typical for the mostly nocturnal animal.
WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook said that when raccoons become familiar with a certain food source, they can become a nuisance within city limits.
"Food-conditioned and human habituated raccoons become bolder around humans and when this happens, conflict often ensues," said Danica Roussy, Community Coordinator with WildSafeBC Kimberley-Cranbrook. "Racoons are omnivores and will exploit a wide variety of food sources within city limits including aquatic animals found in shallow streams and ponds. They can also cause significant damage to gardens, buildings, crops, and livestock in their search for food and denning sites."
Roussy said the public sometimes feeds raccoons with the thought that they are helping them, but that the practice actually further increases the problem, noting that it's best for the raccoons to feel uncomfortable in someone's yard.
"Raccoons can become aggressive towards humans if cornered or handled. Given their small size, they do not pose a serious threat but are capable of inflicting minor injuries."
Offering pointers to the public, Roussy said garbage should be stored indoors until the day of collection, that pets should be fed indoors, that bird feeders should be taken down until the winter, and that BBQ grills and grease traps should be kept clean.
If approached by a raccoon, Roussy said people should scare them away by yelling, making noise, or clapping.
"Like all wildlife, raccoons can act aggressively if they feel threatened," added Roussy. "Never attempt to approach a raccoon."
Any aggressive raccoons should be reported to the B.C. Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.