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Rare albino raccoon sightings cause sensation in Point Edward

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Cathy Dobson

Meet Whitey, Point Edward’s newest celebrity.

Whitey has been climbing trees in the west end, was briefly inconvenienced inside a live trap, and has become a popular target for village paparazzi.

He’s an albino raccoon, a rarity with genetic odds pegged at one in 10,000. According to the odds-makers, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning during your lifetime than ever spot such a critter.

Yet, a growing number of Point Edward residents have encountered Whitey over the past two months.

Renee Mootrey saw him in her tree two weeks ago and managed to take some cell phone photos. By the time she ran inside to get a better camera, Whitey had disappeared.

When Mootrey posted her photos on the Facebook page “Point Edward Loud and Proud,” it prompted a stream of comments from others who had seen the raccoon. Some thought it was an opossum or even a white cat, then realized they were looking at something really unusual.

“When I saw it I couldn’t believe it,” said Tim Mondoux, who lives a few blocks from Mootrey.

He and wife Barb were sitting in front of their home around 10 p.m. one night when they heard a rustle in their big maple.

“It was coming down head first out of our tree and crossed our front yard,” said Mondoux. “One of my neighbours had mentioned an albino raccoon to me. It’s a good thing I had a heads-up because otherwise I would have freaked out.”

Whitey ran to the back of the house where the couple lost sight of him.

“It was really neat to see it,” he said.

A Maud Street resident posted a video of Whitey being released from a live trap. When the cage opened, Whitey wasted no time tearing down the street and out of view.

At least eight village residents have called Peggy Jenkins at Heaven’s Wildlife Rescue in Oil Springs with a sighting this summer.

“They wanted to know if it was hurt or if there was something wrong with it,” said Jenkins. “It looks very healthy to me.”

A recessive gene causes albino animals to have white fur and often pink eyes. Sometimes their eyesight is poor, but Jenkins has seen no evidence of that in Whitey’s photographs.

She urges residents to leave the raccoon alone and let him – or her – go about its business. Though nocturnal animals, raccoons do occasionally come out during the day to look for food, especially females caring for young.

“Trapping and relocating is a bad thing for any animal because they often have babies,” Jenkins said. “Just let it be as long as it’s not injured or sick.”

She added raccoons are common in urban centres but this one stands out because it’s so rare.

“It’s awesome, really, to have an albino raccoon because there just aren’t very many.”

But she cautions against feeding Whitey.

“I know residents in Point Edward are happy to see it and just want the best for it. But if you give them food they can become a nuisance,” she said.

“Just don’t do anything. Just be glad it’s there. It’s a privilege to see one.”

 

 

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